Alzheimer’s Association International Conference sheds light on why dementia disproportionately affects women.
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is taking place this week in Los Angeles, bringing together leading dementia researchers from around the world. Rev. Cynthia Huling Hummel of Elmira is attending the AAIC 2019 and its satellite events to share her personal story of living with Alzheimer’s and advocate on behalf of all families affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
On July 16, Huling Hummel participated in a discussion on dementia friendly communities organized by the World Dementia Council and AAARP. She also spoke at the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement event chaired by Maria Shriver, the movement’s founder, journalist and an advocate for Alzheimer’s research.
Alzheimer’s dementia disproportionately affects women, both as individuals with the disease and as caregivers. New evidence suggests that there may be sex-specific differences in the biology of the disease that impact risk, progression and resilience. A study of 1,022 people found that women’s brains have better brain glucose (sugar) metabolism than men, suggesting a biological possibility for why women perform better on verbal memory tests, even with the same levels of amyloid as men. Another study found that women have larger and more diffuse connective pathways in the brain than men, which impacts the spread of tau in Alzheimer’s. A third study found 11 different genes that conferred Alzheimer’s risk differently between women and men.
Other key scientific findings presented at AAIC 2019 include:
· Scientists from the United States, Japan, France and Italy compared investigated the accuracy of blood-based markers in the diagnosis of brain cell damage. The blood biomarkers seem to correlate well with existing more expensive and more invasive tests such as brain imaging.
· Reports from two large-scale studies suggest that use of sleep medications may be associated with increased dementia risk in whites but not blacks, and the impact on dementia risk may depend on the presence of sleep disturbance, especially in women.
· One study found that LGBT persons were 29 percent more likely to report subjective cognitive decline than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts in the study.
· Sensory impairments, such as reduced vision or hearing, are associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
· Evidence continues to build that healthy lifestyle habits are powerful tools — on their own and in combination with medicine — to reduce risk, and possibly prevent, Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Five scientists from the Rochester and Finger Lakes area are presenting their research at the AAIC: Benjamin Chapman, Ph.D. (UR Medical Center), Quanjing Chen, Ph.D. (UR School of Nursing), Sabrina Goyal (University of Rochester), Steven Rich, M.D. (Rochester Regional Health and Canandaigua-based QAAM Pharmaceuticals) and Terry Fisher, Ph.D. (Vaccinex Inc.).
“It certainly has been an exciting week here in Los Angeles. Research reported at AAIC 2019 describes how simple technologies—even the telephone—are improving the lives of persons with dementia and their caregivers. A pilot study found that the great majority of callers to the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline experienced reduced emotional distress and anxiety and were able to immediately put action steps into place,”said Teresa Galbier, president/CEO, Alzheimer’s Association, Rochester & Finger Lakes Region.
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest gathering of researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia. AAIC 2019 newsroom: www.alz.org/aaic/pressroom.asp
Founded by Maria Shriver, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to raising awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s and to educating the public — women and men — about lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brain health. Through our annual campaigns and initiatives, we also raise dollars to fund women-based Alzheimer’s research at leading scientific institutions, so that we can better understand this mind-blowing disease and hopefully get closer to a cure.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer's Association Rochester & Finger Lakes Region serves a nine-county region, including Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates counties. Visit alz.org/rochesterny or call 1-800-272-3900.