Book Review: The XX Brain

The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

by Lisa Mosconi PhD AVERY
reviewed by Andrea Perkins
The XX Brain cover

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Two out of every three Alzheimer’s patients are women. Lisa Mosconi, Director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell, has made it her life’s work to find out why this is. The facts revealed in this no-nonsense book are alarming. For example, compared to men, women are twice as likely to have anxiety and depression, three times more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, four times more likely to suffer from migraines and headaches, and much more prone to developing brain tumors and dying from a stroke.

Medical research has focused on what Mosconi calls “bikini medicine.” Healthcare for women has been confined to our reproductive organs, resulting in a “reductive understanding of what a woman is.” This is a silent healthcare crisis that is only now being recognized. Until recently, women have constituted a much smaller percentage of research study participants, and even though doctors have long understood that women metabolize drugs differently than men, doses are rarely adjusted for gender.

The XX Brain is a detailed, research-based guide for women who want to negotiate life’s hormonal transitions with resilience and grace. While beneficial for women of all ages, this book will be especially useful for women approaching midlife. That’s when, according to Mosconi, paying attention to our brain’s health should be among our top priorities. This book, the first to really look at cognitive enhancement and Alzheimer’s prevention specifically for women, explains the physiology of hormones and the brain in terms anyone can understand. It’s a valuable, straightforward reference that dispels myths while offering sound advice on stress reduction, restful sleep, exercise, proper supplementation, and diet (hint: Mediterranean). And yes, she includes a meal plan with plenty of delicious, easy recipes. 

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