Why do so many women get Alzheimer's?

Of the more than 5 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia, two-thirds are women. Because advancing age is considered the biggest risk factor for the disease, researchers have largely attributed that disparity to women’s longer life spans. The average life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men.

Yet “even after taking age into account, women are more at risk,” said Richard Lipton, a physician who heads the Einstein Aging Study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

With the number of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States expected to more than triple by 2050, some researchers are urging a greater focus on understanding the underlying reasons women are more prone to the disease and on developing gender-specific treatments.