Womens Brains are Younger Than Mens Brains: Does it Matter?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Men and women have significant physical differences: shape, appearance, sex organs.

They also have less obvious differences: One sex is often more at risk for certain health conditions or diseases.

ishonest No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

Now, researchers say men and women have another unseen but significant difference: their brain age.

According to new research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, women’s brains appear to be on average three years younger than the brains of men of the same chronological age.

That difference is present from young adulthood through senior years, which means women’s brains also age more slowly than men’s brains.

The human brain tends to shrink with age. Brains also change how they make and use the primary source of energy, which is a type of sugar called glucose.

1 Natural Way to Get Rid of Pimples as Fast as Possible

Learn more

The changes may happen to men and women equally, but men’s brains start at a disadvantage and remain metabolically older than women’s brains throughout their lives, despite any age-related shifts.

What the study uncovered

To find these differences, the researchers recruited more than 200 adults, ages 20 to 82, to take part in a series of PET scans.

They also looked at the level of aerobic glycolysis, a process by which the brain converts glucose to energy. Younger brains have higher levels of aerobic glycolysis. That number dips as people age.

They then took the men’s brain measurements and fed them to a machine- learning algorithm they created for this study. The computer then developed a relationship between the men’s brain age and their brain’s metabolic data.

ishonest No.231 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

No.231 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

When they fed the women’s brain metabolism data to the algorithm, the program found that, on average, female brains were 3.8 years younger than male brains.

When they did the experiment in reverse, first teaching the algorithm with women’s data, then using the men’s data, the difference shrank, but men’s brains still remained 2.4 years older than their true ages.

These differences were also observed in the youngest participants. That means males enter adulthood with a brain that is metabolically older and it never catches up to women’s younger brains.

What does having an older brain mean?

It’s unclear so far if there is significance to having a younger brain.

Sunshine under your eyes

Learn more

“It’s not that men’s brains age faster. They start adulthood about three years older than women and that persists throughout life,” says Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology at Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and an assistant professor of neurology and of neuroscience. “What we don’t know is what it means. I think this could mean that the reason women don’t experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we’re currently working on a study to confirm that.”

“This study theorizes that factors that influence brain development, including sexual differences, and exposure to different hormonal, inflammatory, and immunological environments during development, might be very important in determining how brain aging actually plays out,” says Dr. Verna R. Porter, a neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s disease program at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California.

Porter notes that differences, such as hormonal exposure, between males and females may influence the brain’s structural development. That could affect blood flow and eventually brain health during early adulthood.

It may also be, she adds, that these differences help the female brain stay more youthful and experience fewer age-related changes.

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

“This observation is in keeping with other studies that have suggested that the female brain experiences less loss of cerebral blood flow following puberty, more brain glycolysis during young adulthood, and less loss of protein synthesis-related gene expression during aging,” Porter told ishonest.

However, it’s important to note that while women have younger metabolic brain age, it is unclear if it has any protective effects on women’s brains in the long run.

Take for example the rates of Alzheimer’s disease. Two-thirds of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are women. After age 60, women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer.

While this study looked at people who were cognitively normal (that is, their brains showed no signs of impairment, plaque growth, or disease), the results may open a field of research that could improve the understanding of brain health and disease development.

Can men lower their brain age?

How To Improve Skin Elasticity, According To Dermatologists

Learn more

Men and women alike can take steps to improve their brain health.

The exact difference those changes might have is not yet understood or quantified, however.

“It remains to be seen whether factors, such as diet, lifestyle, and exercise, may have the ability to change the relative age of the brain and therefore lead to increased brain resilience during aging,” Porter said.

However, Shannon L. Risacher, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology and imaging studies at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a radiologist at IU Health, suggests that it’s still worth making these brain-boosting lifestyle changes.

ishonest No.141 - Humectant

No.141 - Humectant

She told ishonest that these lifestyle choices are healthy for more than just your brain. They can significantly improve your overall health.

Eat a brain-healthy and heart-healthy diet: “It’s different from person to person, but having a good vascular system makes a big difference in how your brain functions. A lot of the things people are told to do to improve vascular problems, such as having a healthy diet that is low in bad fats and high in good fats, or a Mediterranean-style diet, can help vascular health,” Risacher said.

Get moving: “You don’t have to be a super athlete, but keeping yourself physically fit so your cells can process glucose well is important,” Risacher said. She adds that exercise also increases your oxygen intake, which is important for proper brain function.

Stay engaged: It’s not clear what effect puzzles, quizzes, and other types of brain activities can have on your overall brain health, but they may be helpful. “So far, the science does bear out that there is some beneficial effect,” Risacher said. “As long as they aren’t difficult to do and don’t frustrate you, they may be helpful.”

A newcomer in the LAB range

Learn more

Spend time with friends: Risacher says the same research that says brain activities may be useful for improving brain health also show that people who remain socially active and keep a wide social network are also likely to experience less cognitive decline. It’s not clear which comes first — the social networks or the brain-engaging activities — but people who do both have slower progression.

The bottom line

Women’s brains are metabolically younger than men’s brains by up to three years.

That age gap doesn’t change with age, which suggests men’s brains start out older and don’t make up the difference.

However, there are things men (and women) can do to help their brain be healthier and less susceptible to cognitive decline.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, and staying engaged with a supportive social circle and brain-boosting activities may bolster brain health.

Read more on: womens, brains, women’s

What we do

We make skincare treatments and customize them for your skin-related problems, genetics, lifestyle, and environment.

How you benefit

You get total control over your skincare and the choice to change your skin. An impossible has just become possible.

How Custom Beauty Works

Desktop Mobile Graphic
Take the Quiz

Tell us about your skin, general health, lifestyle, environment, and all your skin goals. The quiz takes 4-8 minutes.

Outline of microscope
Create Your Treatment

Our algorithm creates a unique routine with a few customized products. The algorithm uses 50+ years of skincare research.

Outlines of Packaging
Divide and Rule

Every product is designed for one problem. Apply the product when the problem appears. Much like you treat flu or headache.

Product Values

A family sharing common values functions effortlessly and effectively. So do our products. All our products share these values.

Outline of bulb

Typical skincare routines confuse your skin with 20-50 ingredients. Our custom routines contain 1-8 ingredients, sending clear signals to your body to use the ingredients and recover faster.

Outline of Green Leaf

Our skin can use only active ingredients, also called actives. Most products contain up to 10% actives, whereas our products contain at least 90% actives. You get better value. Your skin avoids junk food.

Get Started

Never Used Before

Take the quiz below and discover a customized treatment for your unique skin-related problems, lifestyle, and environment.

Know Your Treatment

Every treatment has a unique 3-digit ID. You can find the ID on the product label. Search the ID on top right corner or click below.

Targeted Solutions

If a particular skin problem is bothering you, browse our products for your specific problem. You can customize your routine later.