To Top

How Menopause Puts Women at Higher Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological syndrome that causes memory loss and deterioration of cognitive functions. The disease currently affects nearly 50 million people around the world, most of whom are women age 60 and above. The cause for Alzheimer’s has been historically linked to old age, but researchers have discovered that women may be at a higher risk for the disease and can become more susceptible to its damaging effects.

Currently, 5.8 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and two-thirds of those affected are women. Though it is already the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it is projected to affect 14 million Americans in the next 30 years. Its fatality rate significantly surpasses the fatality rate of breast cancer, with women in their 60s being twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer. 

Because old age is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers have determined that women are more likely than men to develop the disease because of their higher life expectancy. However, scientists at Cornell University’s Women’s Brain Initiative (WBI) research center beg to differ.

WBI’s mission is to “discover sex-based molecular targets and precision therapies to prevent, delay, and minimize risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Their research is dedicated to uncovering the biological sex differences that affect the aging of the brain and its vulnerability to illness. Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist, and director of WBI theorizes that women are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s for one primary reason: menopause.

During menopause, women experience a decrease in brain-energy levels and overall cognitive ability. The brain cells age faster and lose around a quarter of their primary fuel. This, along with a decreased production of estrogen, leaves the brain at-risk for the dangers of Alzheimer’s. 

“Estrogen,” Mosconi writes, “is a neuroprotective hormone. When it declines, the brain is left more vulnerable. So if a woman is somehow predisposed to Alzheimer’s, that’s when the risk manifests itself in her brain.”

Mosconi doesn’t argue that menopause causes Alzheimer’s, but urges other researchers in her field to seriously consider the relationship between the two. If women are more susceptible to cognitive decline because of a naturally-occurring lifestyle change, more research needs to be done on the prevention and providing women with proper resources and medical attention.

Featured Image by Bev Sykes on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Be Informed

  • Black Mothers: The Risk of Giving Birth

    Serena Williams was not the first black woman to be ignored by her doctor post-partum. Black mothers consistently balance the joy...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 14, 2020
  • No More Bumps: 5 Steps to Smooth Skin

    Ladies, it’s hard to feel nice and smooth after shaving when ingrown hairs and bumps immediately take the spotlight. However, not...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 13, 2020
  • Healthy Social Media Use

    Social media presence has increased for decades, remaining incredibly prevalent in everyday life. Cultivate healthy habits by learning about the effects...

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 12, 2020
  • No Woman was Surprised by What Happened to AOC

    A few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was insulted by Representative Ted Yoho being called a “f—ing bitch” and “dangerous.” Afterwards,...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 12, 2020
  • The Meaning Behind #ChallengeAccepted

    Recently, a trend has surfaced on Instagram where women nominate one another privately to post a black and white picture of...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 11, 2020
  • Why Anti-feminism can be Fatal

    Recently, New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas and her family were attacked resulting in the loss of her son and injury...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 7, 2020
  • Elijah McClain: What to Know and What to Do

    Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old innocent black man killed by Colorado police. Recently, a peaceful protest and vigil in his honor...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 31, 2020
  • What does #FreeBritney Mean?

    Dedicated Britney Spears fans have been in fear of her safety during quarantine. They noticed her social media presence to be...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 23, 2020
  • How The Handmaid’s Tale Remains Relevant

    The Handmaid's Tale seems to reflect our world today. Is Atwood's novel entirely dystopian, or is she warning us?

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 23, 2020
  • 6 False Assumptions about Mental Illness

    There are various stigmas surrounding mental illness, and it is often difficult for affected individuals to feel appreciated. Learning about mental...

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 16, 2020