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New insight into iron levels in women

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. While it's widely known that women tend to have less iron in their bodies and brains than men, the exact cause was not known. Now, a UCLA study confirms suspicions that women have less iron than men because of blood loss during menstruation. Dr. George Bartzokis and his colleagues compared iron levels in women who had undergone pre-menopausal hysterectomies with women who had not, and found some interesting differences.

Bartzokis:      Women that had hysterectomies and stopped monthly bleeding earlier actually had higher levels — indistinguishable from men — in a particular region of the frontal lobe, white matter.

Narrator:       While iron is necessary for proper cell function, too much of it can lead to problems in the brain as we get older.  

Bartzokis:      We in fact have found it to be elevated in Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and these disorders occur earlier in men.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.