The study findings were published online July 2 in the journal Neurology.
Why the discrepancy between the genders in terms of dementia risk? Although the study didn't look at when the participants started showing signs of senility, it's possible that women may simply live longer with the condition than men, Corrada said. Women, after all, live longer than men in general.
It's also possible that men who manage to reach the age of 90 have "the best protoplasm," said William Thies, vice president for medical and scientific affairs with the Alzheimer's Association. In other words, men have to be in pretty good shape to make it that far.
Corrada and her colleagues also found that women with higher levels of education were less likely to show signs of senility. More education didn't seem to have any effect in men, however.
"Education may mean something different for men and women in this age group," Corrada said.
Other research has linked education to brain health, Corrada added. "People who have more education and more intellectual attainment in their lives are less likely to become demented," she said. "That may be simply because they start out so much better than everyone else (brain-wise) that they can cope better" with aging.
Learn more about dementia from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
SOURCES: Maria Corrada, Sc.D, assistant adjunct professor, neurology, University of California, Irvine; William Thies, Ph.D., vice president, medical and scientific affairs, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago; July 2, 2008, Neurology, online
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