Women with memory problems that may signal early Alzheimer's descend into dementia twice as fast as men, researchers said Tuesday.
It helps explain why so many more women than men have Alzheimer's disease, they said. Two-thirds of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's are women.
Women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as they are to get breast cancer, the Alzheimer's Association says.
It may have something to do with the biology of the brain, researchers told the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, D.C.
"We haven't done enough work parsing out some of the gender differences," said Kristine Yaffe of the University of California San Francisco. Women are more likely to have depression, a risk factor for Alzheimer's, and women are more vulnerable to stress, another risk factor.
"Probably what this is going to be about is a complicated interaction between genetics, hormones and the way the brain develops," Yaffe said.
Some studies are shedding just a little light on what may be happening.