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13:15, 09 February 2019

Women's brains age more slowly than men's: Study

AKIPRESS.COM - Adult female brains appear, on average, a few years younger than same-aged male brains, a new study finds.

This suggests that sex affects how our brains age, which in turn might influence our tendency to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, according to research published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

"We don't see brain aging itself as something that needs to be 'halted'," Dr. Manu S. Goyal, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of radiology and neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote in an email.

It's the diseases that come with brain aging that are the problem, he said: "So what we need to understand is how brain aging contributes to diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, and why some people are more or less resilient to developing Alzheimer's and other brain diseases," CNN reports.

The brain may make up just 2% of our total body mass, but it uses a quarter of our body's total glucose. As we grow older, we experience a decline in brain metabolism, the brain's ability to convert circulating glucose into fuel. Brain cells metabolize glucose to produce the energy needed to maintain synaptic functions and perform other cellular tasks. 

Combined, past and present findings suggest that the female brain is more youthful beginning in young adulthood and that this persists throughout her life. Sex differences during brain development, then, might set the stage for the overall trajectory of brain aging.

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