Alzheimer’s disease is twice as common in people assigned female at birth than those assigned male at birth. This is mainly due to longer life expectancy, but genetics may also play a role.
People assigned female at birth appear to be more than twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s disease than people assigned male at birth.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that happens slowly over time. As it progresses, symptoms like memory loss and behavioral changes can disrupt daily life.
Read on to learn more about why Alzheimer’s may be more common in women than men, the outlook for Alzheimer’s across genders, and other risk factors for Alzheimer’s to take into consideration.
The simplest explanation is that females live longer than males on average. Since Alzheimer’s typically affects people as they age, you’re more likely to get Alzheimer’s the longer you live.
The National Center for Health Statistics estimated in 2020 that females live an average of
Age is the most evident risk factor for Alzheimer’s. After the age of 65 years, the number of people with Alzheimer’s
Genes and proteins
Your risk for Alzheimer’s has a close link to a protein in your brain called tau. Doctors can test for tau by analyzing your spinal fluid.
When tau builds up in your brain, it can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. And the way certain genes affect tau can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
According to a
Having a variant of APOE called APOE4 can increase your risk of early tau buildup in your brain. An earlier
There’s no clear evidence that the outlook for Alzheimer’s is noticeably different for females or males.
Some research suggests that the effects of stress and female immune system proteins may contribute to higher risk and more severe cases of Alzheimer’s in females, but this research is still inconclusive.
Females also tend to score higher on
In addition to sex, gender may also play a role. A
Having inadequate healthcare and experiencing widespread medical gaslighting can keep women from receiving treatment before the disease progresses. Combined with the increased risk for Alzheimer’s with age, the outlook for women with Alzheimer’s as they age may be less favorable than for men.
There is limited research on how common Alzheimer’s disease is among people who don’t identify as their sex assigned at birth.
Apart from age and gender, other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include:
Alzheimer’s appears to affect females more than males. This is because females tend to live longer. They’re also more likely to have a gene variant that can cause tau protein to spread earlier and wider in the brain.
But there’s also a major gap in the research on how inequities in medical care affect early detection and care in women. More research will help understand the differences in Alzheimer’s symptoms between the sexes, making it easier to identify the early signs.