Why Your Gender Puts You at Risk for This 1 Health Problem

By on January 29, 2014
For years, women have accused men of the age-old crime–they forget everything. From wedding anniversaries to doing chores, it seems as if they’re trying to be forgetful, much to the chagrin of tired wives and girlfriends.

Now, believe it or not, science has stumbled onto a reason why this may be the case.

“It was surprising to see that men forget more than women,” says Jostein Holmen, lead researcher of a new study published in the journal BMC Psychology. “This has not been documented before. It was also surprising to see that men are just as forgetful whether they are 30 or 60 years old. The results were unambiguous.”

Studying a group of more than 37,000 Norwegian men and women older than 30, Holmen and his team of researchers analyzed how memory problems affected each sex–and the discovery he made even surprised him. Nearly 50 percent of all participants reported having memory problems, but when researchers tested their cognitive ability, men consistently had more problems–and it didn’t matter how old they were.

“In eight out of nine items, more men than women reported memory problems,” says Holmen. “Memory problems increased with age, and in all age groups more men than women reported memory problems.”

To test their cognitive ability, participants were first asked to answer a questionnaire as part of the HUNT Study, a population study held between 2006 and 2008. Questions asked included if they had trouble remembering names, remembering important dates, and how much their memory ability changed when compared to their earlier years. In all of the questions asked, men repeatedly outranked women when it came to reporting memory difficulties–sometimes by even as much as 10 percent.

Researchers then compared the results and proposed reasons for the discrepancies–perhaps that women were more cognizant of changes in memory, or that men may be more predisposed to memory loss due to a higher risk of other health conditions, such as heart disease.

Still, researchers are stumped.

“One might speculate that the higher prevalence of memory problems in men reflects a more cognitively demanding life for men than for women,” says Holmen. “However, in Norway 70-80% of the female workforce is employed, the highest employment rate for women in the world, and there is no evidence that Norwegian women have less cognitively demanding lives than Norwegian men. Despite several hypotheses, the reason behind men reporting more memory problems than women remains unexplained.”

In the meanwhile, researchers say the gender disparities definitely exist between the sexes–and if you’re a man, keeping up to date on your cognitive health is a must. For men, increasing the use of brain games, intellectually-stimulating activities, and eating a balanced diet may stop some of the damage memory loss can cause later in life.

Readers: Do you think men have a harder time remembering things? Why or why not?

Study: Memory Loss Worse Among Norwegian Men; Women Aren’t as
New Study Shows Men Have Bad Memory; Women Have Better

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