To say the impact of Alzheimer’s on women has reached epidemic proportions would be an understatement. Alzheimer’s strikes every 65 seconds and approximately 66 percent are women. Upwards of 5 million Americans have been diagnosed, and that figure could exceed 14 million by 2050.
Consider that Alzheimer’s ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in American women over 60. More than 3.2 million women in the United States over 65 are currently suffering. And, 16 percent of all women 71 and older have already been stricken.
While female-oriented conditions such as breast cancer and fertility are taking up much of the healthcare industry’s focus, the odds of having Alzheimer’s is double that of breast cancer in women over 60. Now consider that Alzheimer’s stands as the only Top 10 killer without a viable treatment of cure.
Compounding the incurable diseases high mortality rate, women overwhelmingly find themselves in unpaid caregiver roles. Studies indicate that women provide intensive Alzheimer’s care 2.5 times more often than their male counterparts. They are also far more likely to take a lead role in personal hygiene areas, as well as toileting and incontinence.
More than 50 percent of women thrust into these roles feel overburdened and suffer acute emotional stress and anxiety as a result. Tasked with these additional responsibilities, female caregivers often fall victim to depression.
What frustrates many health care professionals is that despite statistical data that points toward Alzheimer’s being far more debilitating to women than men, the dialogue around women’s health care tends to make brain health a secondary issue. That’s why organizations such as Prime Wellness focus on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, Metagenics supplements and holistic measures to improve women’s odds.
Connection Between Menopause and Alzheimer’s
The significantly higher rate of Alzheimer’s in post-menopausal women compared to those who have not gone through “the change” has prompted researchers to take a closer look at how hormonal changes affect the brain.
A retrospective study conducted by the University of California and San Francisco VA Medical Center reviewed the health records of more than 5,500 post-menopausal women. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, principal researcher Kristine Yaffe, MD, uncovered a strong link between estrogen levels and brain health. Her findings, published by the University of California San Francisco, concluded the following.
“Women who took estrogen in mid-life but not in late life had a 26 percent decreased risk of developing dementia in old age compared with women who had never taken estrogen at any age, whereas women who took estrogen in late life but not in mid-life had a 48 percent increased risk of dementia compared with non-estrogen-taking women,” the report states. “Women who took estrogen in both mid-life and late life had the same dementia risk as women who never took it.”
“Nonetheless,” Yaffe says, “some scientists have wondered if the problem with estrogen and dementia is that you have to expose women to hormones at a certain critical period, during and just after menopause – and that older age is too late.”
Concurring with Yaffe’s conclusions, research by Weill Cornell Medicine determined that the loss of estrogen during menopause depletes specific areas of the brain of an enzyme called “mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase.” The levels in menopausal and post-menopausal women strongly contrast those who are pre-menopausal. The enzyme has been widely linked to memory and other brain functions.
“Our findings show that the loss of estrogen in menopause doesn’t just diminish fertility,” said Dr. Mosconi, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian. “It also means the loss of a key neuroprotective element in the female brain and a higher vulnerability to brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease. We urgently need to address these problems because, currently, 850 million women worldwide are entering or have entered menopause. Our studies demonstrate that women need medical attention in their 40s, well in advance of any endocrine or neurological symptoms.”
Alzheimer’s Prevention Measures for Menopausal and Post-Menopausal Women
Although researchers are closely studying the causes of Alzheimer’s, today’s women need to be proactive about lowering their risks. While estrogen therapy appears to be a strong option under the right circumstances, mothers and daughters can take everyday measures as well. Experts consider these activities helpful in lowering risk.
- Massage therapy
- Proper sleep
- Social activities
- Healthy body weight
- Mind-sharpening intellectual activities
- Cholesterol management
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
At Prime Wellness we urge women to consider age-appropriate BHRT therapy as a key strategy to help avoid the loss of brain function. On the nutrition side of the prevention equation, these and other paleo/ketogenic “brain foods” have proven valuable in the fight against Alzheimer’s and improving overall cognitive function for women and men alike.
- Avocado and Coconut Oil
- Sesame Seeds
- Vegetables such as kale and broccoli
- Quality protein sources
Given the burdens many women shoulder, maintaining brain health can be a challenge. That’s why Prime Wellness offers a holistic approach to overall women’s health. We provide vitamin injections and a full range of Metagenics products designed to help prevent life-threatening conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease within the context of a total health and wellness program. For more information and vital Alzheimer’s prevention resources, visit Prime Wellness.
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