Is the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease greater for women than for men?

Liesi E. Hebert, Paul A. Scherr, Judith J. McCann, Laurel A Beckett, Denis A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

171 Scopus citations


A large proportion of people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are women; however, it is not clear whether this is due to higher risk of disease or solely to the larger number of women alive at ages when AD is common. Beginning in 1982, two stratified random samples of people aged ≥65 years in East Boston, Massachusetts underwent detailed, structured clinical evaluation for prevalent (467 people) and incident (642 people from a cohort previously ascertained to be disease-free) probable AD. The prevalence sample was followed for mortality for up to 11 years (through December 1992). The age-specific incidence of AD did not differ significantly by sex (for men vs. women, odds ratio = 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.51, 1.67). Controlled for age, prevalence also did not differ significantly by sex (for men vs. women, odds ratio = 1.29; 95% CI: 0.67, 2.48). The increase in risk of mortality due to AD did not vary by sex. The odds ratio for women with AD compared with women without AD was 2.07 (95% CI: 1.21, 3.56). For men, the odds ratio was 2.22 (95% CI: 1.02, 4.81). These findings suggest that the excess number of women with AD is due to the longer life expectancy of women rather than sex-specific risk factors for the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-136
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Incidence
  • Mortality
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective studies
  • Risk factors
  • Sex factors
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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