Alzheimer’s is not a disease of old age. We tend to associate it with the elderly because that’s when the clinical symptoms become manifest, but in reality, Alzheimer’s begins with negative changes in the brain at least a decade prior. More often than not, in middle age.
Two out of every three Alzheimer’s patients are women. Today, Alzheimer’s is as real a threat to women’s health as breast cancer is. A 45-year-old woman has a one in five chance of developing Alzheimer’s during her remaining life, while a man of the same age only has a one in ten chance. What happens to women and not to men, in midlife, that could potentially trigger an Alzheimer’s predisposition, and that could potentially initiate Alzheimer’s?
On today’s Broken Brain Podcast, our host, Dhru, talks to Dr. Lisa Mosconi, the director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she serves as an associate professor of neuroscience in neurology and radiology. In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member at the NYU Department of Psychiatry and the author of Brain Food and The XX Brain.
In this episode, Dhru and Dr. Mosconi talk about the research on why women represent two-thirds of the Alzheimer’s population. They discuss what happens to a woman’s brain when she goes through menopause and the connection to Alzheimer’s disease. They also talk about how to care for women’s brains, how to prevent dementia, and the ground-breaking research that Dr. Mosconi and her team are conducting at the Alzheimer’s prevention clinic.
In this episode, we dive into:
- The statistics on Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on women (7:18)
- Dr. Mosconi’s family history of Alzheimer’s (10:52)
- The difference between the male and female brain (17:55)
- The early changes we are seeing in the female brain midlife (21:54)
- What is happening in the brain post-menopause for women (24:12)
- The correlation between a hysterectomy and a higher risk of dementia (28:38)
- The impact of diet on our hormones and brain health (30:21)
- What women can do to prevent dementia (41:32)
- Why women internalize stress more than men (49:44)
- How toxins impact our risk of chronic diseases (57:42)
- How to know if hormone replacement therapy is right for you (1:29:09)
- Where to learn more about Dr. Lisa Mosconi (1:37:16)
For more on Dr. Lisa Mosconi, be sure to follow her on Instagram @dr_mosconi. Check out her website https://www.lisamosconi.com. Learn more about The Women’s Brain Initiative here. You can find her book, The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, right here. Lastly, below is the brain scan image that Dr. Mosconi discussed in the interview.