Alzheimer's Disease More Prevalent In Women Than Men
March 19, 2014

Women More Likely To Develop Alzheimer’s Than Breast Cancer

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

According to the Alzheimer's Association 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they are breast cancer.

Researchers found that a woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is one in six, compared to nearly one in 11 for a man.

"Through our role in the development of The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's in 2010, in conjunction with Maria Shriver, we know that women are the epicenter of Alzheimer's disease, representing majority of both people with the disease and Alzheimer's caregivers. Alzheimer's Association Facts and Figures examines the impact of this unbalanced burden," said Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer's Association.

The facts also reveal that these women are twice as likely to develop the disease over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer. These findings highlight the need to increase fundraising efforts for Alzheimer’s disease.

"Well-deserved investments in breast cancer and other leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke and HIV/AIDS have resulted in substantial decreases in death. Comparable investments are now needed to realize the same success with Alzheimer's in preventing and treating the disease,” Geiger said.

According to the report, there are 2.5 times as many women than men providing intensive “on-duty” care 24 hours a day for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, 17 percent of women caregivers who feel isolated are depressed, compared to just two percent of men.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans, including 3.2 million women and 200,000 people under the age of 65. The total national cost of caring for people with the disease and other dementias is estimated to reach $214 billion this year. However, this number doesn’t include unpaid caregiving by family and friends, which could be valued at more than $220 billion.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, nearly a quarter of men and women believe that the disease must run in their family for them to be at risk, which is false.

"Despite being the nation's biggest health threat, Alzheimer's disease is still largely misunderstood. Everyone with a brain — male or female, family history or not — is at risk for Alzheimer's," said Geiger. "Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's, and America is aging. As a nation, we must band together to protect our greatest asset, our brains."

This is the first time this report has highlighted the striking impact Alzheimer’s disease has on women, as well as caregivers, relatives, friends and loved ones. The Alzheimer’s Association said that it is launching a national initiative this spring that will be featuring the power of women in the fight against the disease.