Sex & Gender Differences in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are among some of the most common forms of age-related neurodegenerative diseases men and women in America face in this day and age, with Alzheimer’s being the most common of them all.

More and more studies are showing that men may be more likely to develop these diseases, but depending on a person’s gender, women may experience worse symptoms. Why is this? What causes it? And what can be done about it?

There are a few important gender differences in the brain that are now being considered as a variable in clinical neurological and psychiatric studies. While this topic remains to be controversial, it is a very interesting topic to research and I am led to believe that sex does indeed play a role in not only the development of such diseases, but also the prognosis and symptoms of each.

Take a look at the results of these sample studies:

  • In Parkinson’s Disease, woman have been found to be more prone to symptoms such as fatigue, nervousness, sadness, constipation, restless legs and pain, while men are more apt to experience  daytime fatigue, increased libido and sexual dysfunction. Women are also more likely to develop tremors as their initial symptom. That being said, research has indicated that the burden of the disease and greater difficulties with Parkinson’s. Overall, researchers analyzed several studies on the incidence and found that men were 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women are.
  • In those with ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, it is said that gender does affect the incidence of the disease, as well as the site-onset of ALS. Studies have indicated that ALS is more prevalent in males than in females, and the proportion of patients with the disease effecting their limbs at the onset of the disease are male.
  • In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, women not only have a higher prevalence, but also so quicker age-related decline than that of men. Many researchers contribute this due to the differences in sex hormones in men and women, the impact from other diseases, such as diabetes, depression and cardiovascular diseases, as well as age-related declination of brain volume and brain glucose metabolism. Clinical studies have shown that females carry an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as a significantly faster decline and deterioration of cognitive function than males.
  • With Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, women are more likely to develop MS, but men are more likely to face worse symptoms and course of the disease. Hormonal effects seem to be the greatest contributor to this difference in both men and women with MS. For example, women produce a wider variety of hormones and experience sex-specific events, such as pregnancy, which is associated with an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as MS.

Are neurodegenerative diseases more prominent in one sex over another? What is important to note here is that nearly every neurodegenerative disease has a different effect on both men and women. What this means is that treatment plans and therapeutic strategies should be tailored to a person’s gender when treating such diseases.

What is also important to note here is that you can be proactive in your health no matter your gender. If you are a female and know you may be more predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, I encourage you to start taking the necessary and precautionary steps to protect your brain’s wellbeing by taking the right nutrients and getting your hormones balanced. If you’re a male and know you may be more prone to developing Parkinson’s or ALS, take the steps now to encourage your immune system and support your central nervous system.

I am a firm believer that it is never too late (or too early) to be an advocate for your own health. Start today by taking my complimentary online assessment to test your symptoms and see how you can get started on a path to health and wellness naturally.

 

 

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Posted in: Neurodegenerative Diseases

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