According to new research, the risk for Alzheimer's and dementia increases progressively for every additional year that the women remain fertile.
Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, and the number is expected to triple by 2050. Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability and dependence in older people across the world. Dementia is the biggest global health challenge of the 21st century. Now, according to a new study by the research team from the University of Gothenburg, women with prolonged fertility have an increased risk of dementia later in life than those who were fertile for a shorter period. The research was published in the Alzheimer's and Dementia journal. During this research, the researchers examined around 1,364 women between 1968 and 2012.
The reproductive period occurs in the years between menarche (the beginning of menstruation) and menopause when menstruation ends. The team found that 53 of 333 women (around 16%), who were fertile a shorter period, developed dementia, while 88 of 364 women (around 24%), who were fertile a longer period, developed dementia. The results remained the same after adjusting for other factors with an effect, such as body mass index (BMI), cardiovascular disease, smoking, physical activity, and educational attainment.
Moreover, the team found no link between dementia risks and the number of pregnancies, duration of breastfeeding, age at menarche, or exogenous estrogen taken as hormonal replacement therapy. Previously, several studies have examined how estrogen in the form of hormonal replacement therapy affects dementia risk. Whereas some studies suggest that the risk of dementia is low and others suggest that it increases, especially in women who take estrogen later in life. In the present study, the team examined the long-term association between dementia and endogenous estrogen-related factors. However, the research may provide clues as to why women are at greater risk than men for dementia after the age of 85 years.