More women than men are stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. And it isn’t simply because women live, on average, four years longer. Researchers* are investigating if genetic factors and hormonal-related milestones – puberty, pregnancy, and menopause – are triggers.
The brain controls all body functions, gobbling up about 20% of our body’s fuel, glucose. Our brains need glucose to listen, learn, and recall past events. And it’s a decline in these energy-demanding activities that first indicate Alzheimer’s disease is developing.
Some interesting facts:
- Alzheimer’s onset begins about 20 years before it is diagnosed, and diagnosis occurs, on average, around age 72. Which means the onset of Alzheimer’s most likely coincides with the beginning of menopause.
- Between onset and full menopause, the brain’s glucose consumption decreases. Perhaps studying glucose metabolism in the body and the brain will lead to early detection of several forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
- Eleven percent of the population over the age of 65 is predicted to develop Alzheimer’s. Studying changes in glucose consumption probably won’t be the path to a cure – but it may lead to effective ways to delay onset.
Next segment: Learning something new can delay dementia.
*Roberta Diaz Brinton