September 14, 2010

USA: Aging - Men Face More Forgetting, and Earlier

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NEW YORK, NY / The New York Times / Research / Health / September 14, 2010


Aging: Men Face More Forgetting, and Earlier


By RONI CARYN RABIN

Men develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, earlier and at higher rates than women, according to a new study of almost 2,000 people in their 70s and 80s.

The difference is surprising, since dementia and Alzheimer’s are thought to affect more women than men, said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. People with mild cognitive impairment appear to be functioning normally, but their forgetfulness is beyond what occurs in normal aging. To determine the condition’s prevalence, Mayo researchers conducted extensive neurological examinations of 1,969 randomly selected 70-to-89-year-olds in residents of Olmsted County, Minn.

Nineteen percent of the men had mild cognitive impairment, compared with 14 percent of the women. (The percentages do not include those with full-blown dementia, which afflicts roughly 10 percent in this age group.) The study, financed by the National Institute on Aging, was published in the journal Neurology.

Besides men in general, subjects found to be at higher risk for mild cognitive impairment included those who had never been married, those with less than nine years of schooling and those carrying the ApoE4 gene, which is a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s.

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