Last Friday was International Women’s Day, a day to bring awareness to issues affecting women, and also to celebrate the incredible women in our communities and in this world. The majority of our clients at the Amos Institute are women, unsurprising, since Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women than it is in men. In fact, almost two thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women (1). The exact reason for this is still being studied and there are many proposed theories. One potential explanation is that the impact of ApoE4 is greater in women than it is in men. In other words, women who carry the ApoE4 variant have been shown to have greater hypometabolism and brain atrophy than men who carry ApoE4 (2). As a result, women who carry ApoE4 may be more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s than their male counterparts. Additionally, much research has looked at the estrogen loss associated with menopause and how that may increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease (3). Regardless of the mechanism, Alzheimer’s disease is a looming threat to women’s health.
Beyond suffering from the disease themselves, women often also bear the burden of caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women. More specifically, over one third of dementia caregivers are daughters (1). The impact of caregiving for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s on the caregiver’s mental and physical health cannot be overstated. I watched as my own mother acted as the primary caregiver for her mother during the early years of her diagnosis. Our family was forever changed by the experience. Caregiving for a loved one is considered an independent risk factor for mortality, and the devastating toll that caregiving takes is emotional, financial, and physical (4).
At the Amos Institute, we specialize in helping our clients implement the Bredesen Protocol, which is the only program that has been shown to reverse the symptoms of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. Dale Bredesen, MD, developed and began utilizing this protocol following years of scientific research. He has and continues to change the landscape of how we approach Alzheimer’s disease. At least in the functional medicine community, Dale Bredesen is a household name, and more and more people are learning about and implementing his protocol, and even better, seeing incredible results. But many people don’t realize that a strong, intelligent woman has had a monumental impact in his research and on his journey to developing the protocol: his wife. In this video clip, Dr. Bredesen discusses the role his wife played in his work, and the foresight she had into what would become the foundation of the protocol. It seems almost poetic that in a devastating disease that affects so many women, a woman has been working silently behind the scenes to help bring about the first treatment modality that has brought hope and recovery to so many. We will be releasing more of our exclusive interview with Dr. Dale Bredesen in the coming weeks.
1. Alzheimer’s Association, 2019. Retrieved from: https://alz.org/
2. Sampedro, F. et al. (2015) APOE by sex interactions on brain structure and metabolism in healthy elderly controls. Oncotarget, 6(29).
3. Paganini-Hill, A. & Henderson, V.W. (1994). Estrogen deficiency and risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 140(3):256–261.
4. Schulz R, Beach SR. Caregiving as a Risk Factor for Mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects Study. _JAMA._1999;282(23):2215–2219.