Women who retire earlier in greater danger of developing Alzheimer's compared to men, says researcher

Various risk factors can leave women more vulnerable to developing the condition

Women who retire earlier in greater danger of developing Alzheimer's compared to men, says researcher

Peter Byrne / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Women are naturally more susceptible to developing Alzheimer's disease compared to men, according to a leading dementia researcher.

Dr Sabina Brennan told Chris Donoghue on the Breakfast show today, that age and cognitive capacity are the main contributory factors behind this.

"Age is the biggest risk factor with the risk approximately doubling every five years after 65 because women are living longer than men."

This, coupled with the fact that women tend to retire from the workplace earlier than men, leaves women more vulnerable to developing Alzheimer's. Dr Brennan explains how the additional time at work allows men to maintain better levels of brain activity in later years that effectively, shields them from the impact of Alzheimer's.

Based on previous research, she said:

"Women's cognitive functions are more severely and more widely impaired than men. Basically, they found that men with Alzheimer's consistently outperformed women with Alzheimer's."

"They put forward one possible explanation that men have spent more time in work traditionally, and that this activity gave them a greater cognitive reserve that enables them to better resist the impact of the illness."

She continued:

"The stimulation of an occupation can build a protection, like a buffer in your brain. People who stayed in school longer have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's."

Dr Brennan stressed however, that these generalities are not an exact science and that people who left education early should not be overly worried about developing the disease.

She also outlined a number of simple preventative options including regularly engaging with physical activity, having a strong social network and maintaining good cardiovascular health.