Narrator: This is Science Today. Women suffer post traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of men. But now, a University of California, San Francisco, study suggests that women with PTSD also have a higher risk of disease than men who have the disorder. Thomas Neylan, the director of the PTSD Research Program at the San Francisco VA hospital, explains that women with PTSD tend to have an over-activated immune response that causes inflammation.
Neylan: Inflammation is one real prominent mechanism that accounts for disease. Inflammation is thought to be important in the development of heart disease and it's also a strong candidate for some dementing illnesses too.
Narrator: Why these gender differences exist in PTSD patients has yet to be determined, but one possible explanation is the effect of hormones on stress.
Neylan: It appears that estrogen can have an impact on how you respond to stressors, progesterone, testosterone. And if there are biological differences then we wonder if there should be gender specific treatments, too.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.