Studies have shown that women are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's than men. Although it is still unknown why the neurodegenerative disease affects more women, a new study reveals the link between the menopausal age of a woman and the risk of developing the condition.

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss, and a decline in cognitive, behavioral, and social skills. It is the most common cause of dementia, a term used to indicate cognitive decline and memory loss.

It is estimated that around 6.5 million people in the United States over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease where the symptoms gradually worsen over years. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's, early detection helps in treatment that can reduce the progression of the disease.

Early signs

  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Forgetting recently learned information
  • Difficulty in performing daily tasks
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Difficulty in solving problems
  • Problems coping with new situations
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as sleeping more during the day
  • loss of spontaneity and initiative

Menopause, hormone therapy and link to Alzheimer's

Researchers observed that a major difference between older men and women is the menopause stage that the latter went through. During menopause, women suffer a dramatic fall in sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. This prompted the researchers to investigate the link between menopause and the onset of Alzheimer's.

A recent study found that the women who underwent premature menopause (before the age of 40) or those who began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) more than five years after menopause had higher levels of tau in their brains, JAMA Network reported.

Tau buildup is a common occurrence in Alzheimer's disease that causes damage to brain cells essential for learning and memory.

The study also revealed that women who were prescribed HRT around the age of menopause did not show an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"We found that the highest levels of tau, a protein involved in Alzheimer's disease, were only observed in hormone therapy users who reported a long delay between age at menopause onset and their initiation of hormone therapy. The idea that tau deposition may underlie the association between late hormone therapy intervention and Alzheimer's disease dementia was a huge finding, something that hadn't been seen before," Rachel Buckley, a corresponding author of the study said.

The findings of the study also gave insight to the relevance of starting hormone therapy at the right time, closer to the menopausal age.

"This is the first study showing a delayed use of hormone therapy seems to be associated with increased levels of Alzheimer's disease markers in the brain," lead author Gillian Coughlan said, CNN reported.

A new study reveals the link between the menopausal age of a woman and the risk of developing Alzheimer's. pixabay