Lifestyle & Belief

Pregnancy protein could be advanced indicator of Alzheimer's


A woman suffering from Alzheimer's looks at an old photo. Scientists believe they have found one indicator of Alzheimer's in women.



Scientists at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam think they have found a way to detect Alzheimer's - at least in women.

The Economist reports that Dutch scientist Theo Luider discovered high levels of a pregnancy protein in women who developed Alzheimer's over the course of a 10-year study.

The women participants who developed Alzheimer's had levels 60 percent higher than women who did not develop the disease. The levels stayed the same for men, the Economist added.

Much to the confusion of the scientists, they discovered that the part of the brain that produces the pregnancy protein - the same parts associated with Alzheimer's - were present in men, as well., which also reported the findings, said the report concluded that the elevations in the protein occurred in women four years before they developed signs of memory loss. 

The U.S. is estimated to have five million people suffering from Alzheimer's, according to the National Institute on Aging, and approximately 36 million cases worldwide. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that the costs of dementia exceeded $604 billion in 2010, worldwide.

With this finding, doctors are hopeful that Alzheimer's and dementia could be detected early, and patients can be given proven treatments before it's too late.

More from GlobalPost: Lifestyle changes can reduce risk of Alzheimer's by half, new study shows