Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Kejal Kantarci, a Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist, says more women have the disease than men. She explains the factors that may affect a woman's risk.
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More women have Alzheimer's disease than men. Researchers want to find out why.
"We are learning that women may have certain risk factors that are specific to them," says Dr. Kantarci.
She says new research focuses on whether reproductive history or exposure to hormone therapy influence a woman's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
"The study I’m enrolled in involves hormone therapy during menopausal transition and how that affects the brain later in life," Dr. Kantarci explains.
She and her team look for markers of Alzheimer's disease in brain scans. They also look for changes in brain structure. Thus far, studies show that normal pregnancies and exposure to hormone replacement therapy do not increase cognitive decline.
"Certain hormonal risk factors exist, and reproductive history is an important consideration for women evaluating their Alzheimer's risk," says Dr. Kantarci.
She says more studies are needed to learn more about risks specific to women.