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New Research Shows Alzheimer’s Puts Heavy Burden On Women

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Kate Sullivan Kate Sullivan
Kate Sullivan is co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago News at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m....
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(CBS) – New numbers released Wednesday show that women have a one-in-six chance of developing Alzheimer’s, and that’s not all researchers here in Chicago discovered about the brain disease.

Cheryl Levin-Folio doesn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s, but her husband, Michael does. He’s only 57 years old.

“Shortly after we’re married Michael experienced some confusion,” Cheryl said.

Over the past 18 months she has become his primary caregiver and part of a staggering statistic: Twice as many women as men provide care for an Alzheimer’s patient.

Women also have it tough because they suffer more from the disease itself.

While it strikes one out of every 11 men, women have a much greater risk as one out of every 6 will get it by age 60.

“Women live longer than men and the number one risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is growing old,” said Erna Colborn, CEO of the Chicago Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Alzheimer’s association says other diseases, like breast cancer, get more research funding and as a result, deaths have dropped.

Yet women in their 60’s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as breast cancer.

At Rush, researchers are studying two promising approaches. One, is an inhaled form of insulin to treat the symptoms.

“The thought here is that insulin in some way is causing a lot of our issues with memory. That insulin is not being regulated properly in the brain,” said Dr. Neelum Aggarwal of Rush University Medical Center.

Another hopes to prevent the symptoms from ever developing by targeting an amyloid protein buildup in the brain.

“It would probably be better from the standpoint that he wasn’t suffering from this illness and the most proud and treasured memories wouldn’t be at risk of being lost,” said Levin-Folio.

5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s today. That number is expected to triple by 2050, unless one of these newer ways to treat or prevent the disease produce results.

For more information or to participate in an Alzheimer’s prevention study, click here.

For more information on Rush University’s SNIFF inhaled insulin study, call 312-942-6596.

For more information from the Alzheimer’s Association, visit www.alz.org for facts and figures, the Illinois chapter website, care giving center and 10 signs of Alzheimer’s.

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