Health

Expert blames huge 'crime' for more women getting dementia than men


A brain health expert has expressed outrage over the stigma surrounding certain medical treatments for menopause, suggesting it could be influencing the number of women suffering from dementia.

Max Lugavere, a diet and brain health expert, recently ventured into filmmaking with his new documentary, Little Empty Boxes, which chronicles his mother’s heart-wrenching battle with dementia.

His mother tragically passed away at 66 in 2018, but Max’s interest in dementia remains strong.

During an appearance on The Human Upgrade podcast with Dave Asprey, the host addressed what he views as “to be sort of a crime against women” in medicine, linking the stigma around hormonal menopause treatment to the disproportionate number of female Alzheimer’s patients.

It’s well-known that the devastating neurological disorder affects more women than men. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Society notes: “Around twice as many women have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, compared to men.”

While many attribute this to the fact that women generally live longer than men, Max disputes this, attributing it instead to changes in estrogen levels during menopause that deplete the brain-protecting hormone.

He poignantly explained: “Being female increases your risk by twofold as compared to men. And my mom…she was a statistic.

“A lot of people have the misconception that it’s because women live longer. That’s not the case. I think part of the (social conditions) that put women at higher risk is that estrogen seems to be protective over the brain. During menopause, that rug is essentially pulled out from beneath a woman’s feet.

“For those who are vulnerable, for example women who might already have preexisting insulin resistance, I think that that just presents a perfect storm for dementia risk. That’s an area of ongoing research and we certainly don’t have all the answers.”

Dave questioned if Max’s mum Kathy, who was 56 when she got diagnosed with dementia, was on hormone replacement therapy and the health and science journalist admitted: “No, she wasn’t. She was actually quite afraid of it because of the early studies that seemed to link it to an increased risk of cancer.”

The podcast host fumed over this stigma, dubbing it the “biggest crime against women” adding: “When people use bioidentical hormones at the right doses, they still think about cancer risk, even though the data is that it reduces cancer risk. So it’s like the old story sticks.”

Max concurred, noting that when it comes to testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, he hasn’t faced antipathy like this. He added: “I think there still continues to be a stigma for women and HRT. And that’s something that we need to actively work to unravel, because we are living longer today and a woman spends more than 50% of her life essentially now in that post-menopausal state.”



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