Is Racism Causing Black Folks’ Brains to Age Faster?

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By Alexa Spencer, Word in Black

A new study reveals the effects of racial “weathering,” which could be tied to high rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

The older Black community may struggle with Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions because racism is a chronic stressor. (Kampus Production / Pexels)

Alzheimer’s disease has become so common in the Black community that some consider memory loss a normal part of aging. But according to a new study, racial “weathering” could be contributing to the high number of Black adults who are developing the brain disorder earlier than their non-Black peers.

Research published Nov. 14 in the journal JAMA Neurology shows that Black adults were experiencing brain aging much quicker than other groups. 

While Latinx and white adults had cases of small vessel cerebrovascular disease — a condition associated with Alzheimer’s and stroke — later in life, many Black adults were experiencing it at the beginning of midlife. 

The researchers concluded that “weathering” — or the chronic exposure to social and economic discrimination — could be causing Black people to age faster. 

“The cumulative impact of social, physical, and economic adversities, often faced by individuals from historically excluded populations lead to earlier health deterioration and advanced biological aging, which may be caused by chronic or reoccurring stressors,” the authors wrote. 

Find out more about this study.

The impact of racism is why one CDC director declared it a public health threat, and Black mothers experience the consequences in particular ways.

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