A study out from Johns Hopkins University suggests that stress affects women’s brains far more severely than men’s, which may explain why women develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, and related illnesses at faster rates than men.
909 study participants based in Baltimore, Maryland, participated in a long-range study at the National Institute of Mental Health. Researchers followed the subjects over a period of 25 years starting in the 1980s and ending in 2005–when the subjects were nearly 60 years of age. A summary of the results found that women experienced more memory loss linked to stress, than men did.
Prior to the study, science found that women develop Alzheimer’s at twice the rate of men. What they didn’t know was why. Cynthia Munro, a professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, wanted to answer the question. “A lot of research looks at sex hormones,” Munroe says. However, Munroe looked elsewhere, focusing her efforts on other hormones, such as cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and memory formulation. Munroe found that the bodies of women in their 60s and early 70s produce up to three times as much as men, and that women’s memories are disproportionately affected by everyday stressors that cause cortisol levels to rise. For women, they found that stressful life experiences correlated to higher rates of poor performance on memory testing.
While everyone experiences stress, and therefore increased cortisol levels, the effects are vastly different for each person. Scientific findings of the harmful, long-term effects of heightened stress hormone levels solidifies the need to reduce stress and keep cortisol at a normal level in hopes of preserving brain health and memory for the future. As science research expands in neurological health, finding the causes, possible treatment and prevention options will become more advanced, allowing the health and wellness industry to better handle diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The World Health Organization provides suggestions that may help in preventing dementia such as, increased exercise, eating a balanced diet, and minimal alcohol consumption. Stress reduction strategies should also be incorporated to help possibly lower the risk of cognitive decline. One of the best strategies you can implement today is BrainTap, and it only takes 15 to 20 minutes a day. Not only will you reap the benefits of less stress, BrainTap helps to promote brain health by building new neural pathways to keep it active and performing at peak potential.
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