Two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients are women. Why? The answer often given is that women live longer, so there are more of them around—but the math doesn’t really add up. Researchers Lisa Mosconi and Roberta Diaz Brinton have a different idea. Their work suggests that during the transition to menopause, the depletion of estrogen (which is neuroprotective) causes the brain to become more vulnerable.

Mosconi and Brinton are not claiming causation. Rather, their work shows an association between menopause and an earlier emergence of Alzheimer’s in the female brain compared with the male brain. “Menopause is more like a trigger than a cause,” Mosconi says. And not just for Alzheimer’s, but for cognitive fog in general.”

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