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Women’s brain health remains one of the most under-researched, under-diagnosed and undertreated fields of medicine. Women are twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s and twice as likely to become anxious or depressed. They are four times more likely to suffer with headaches and migraines and they are more prone to brain tumours and strokes than men. Today’s guest says this is a clear indication of functional differences between female and male brains. And she’s made it her life’s work to learn more about it.
Neuroscientist Dr Lisa Mosconi is director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and works at the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, US, where she studies how genetics, lifestyle and nutrition shape brain health, particularly in women.
Lisa describes her frustration at constantly being told by peers that the reason Alzheimer’s was more prevalent in women was simply because they live longer, and it’s a disease of ageing. We discuss her ground-breaking research that has exposed this bias, finding dementia brain changes can actually begin in midlife, triggered by declining oestrogen during perimenopause. Worrying as that might sound, this discovery will enable women to take control of their risk at a much earlier age. Lisa goes on to share plenty of practical, evidence-based advice to help you do that.
I was really moved to hear Lisa talk about the beautiful changes that happen in the female brain during pregnancy and post-partum. It’s a new take on the idea of ‘Mummy brain’ and will be validating for all mothers out there to hear. She also gives a clear and candid explanation of how perimenopause alters brain function. So many of my patients in their 40s and 50s are scared by changes like forgetfulness, brain fog and anxiety. If that’s you or someone you know, Lisa’s insights and advice will be really empowering.
I’m a passionate advocate for women’s health equality. Yet chatting with Lisa made me realise how much more work we all have to do to get topics like these out there and understood. This conversation is relevant to all of us, women and men alike. I hope it gets you thinking and talking more.
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