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Women’s brains appear ‘years younger’ than men’s: study

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Women tend to outlive men and stay mentally sharp longer, and a new study out Monday could explain why: female brains appear on average about three years younger.

The study enrolled 121 women and 84 men, who underwent PET scans to measure brain metabolism, or the flow of oxygen and glucose in their brains.

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Like other organs in the body, the brain uses sugar as fuel. But just how it metabolizes glucose can reveal a lot about the brain’s metabolic age.

Subjects ranged from their 20s to 80s, and across those age spans, women’s brains appeared metabolically younger than men’s, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

A machine-learned algorithm showed that women’s brains were on average about 3.8 years younger than their chronological ages.

And when compared to men, male brains were about 2.4 years older than their true ages.

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“It’s not that men’s brains age faster,” said senior author Manu Goyal, assistant professor of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

“They start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life,” said Goyal.

But why?

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One theory is that hormones might begin shaping brain metabolism at a young age, setting females on a pattern that is more youthful throughout their lives, compared to men.

Scientists hope to find out if metabolic differences in the brain may play a protective role for women, who tend to score better than men on cognitive tests of reason, memory and problem solving in old age.

It “could mean that the reason women don’t experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger,” said Goyal.

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More work is underway to confirm and better understand the implications of the research.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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