- Racism could be harming the brain health of Black women, a new study found.
- Black women who reported higher rates of everyday racial discrimination were 2.75 times more likely to suffer poor subjective cognitive functioning.
- Poor subjective cognitive functioning impacts memory, which can affect taking medication and going to doctor’s appointments.
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The constant stress of everyday racism in the US – both systemic and interpersonal – is known to be linked to worse health outcomes for Black people from higher infant mortality rates to a shorter life expectancy.
According to a new study published Tuesday, it also could have a direct impact on the cognitive health of Black women.
Researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Centre at Boston University analysed data from 59,000 Black women aged 21 through 69 years collected in the Black Women’s Health Study.
They found Black women in particular who experience racism daily – from microaggressions to systemic discrimination – were 2.75 times more likely to suffer a condition known as poor subjective cognitive functioning compared to women who did not report experiencing daily racism.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, poor subjective cognitive functioning refers to the self-reported worsening of memory and an increase in confusion.
Poor subjective cognitive functioning could be harmful to people’s everyday lives, especially for those managing chronic illnesses that require remembering to take medication.
It is also one of the earliest indicators of Alzheimer’s, which is more prevalent among Black Americans than white people.
“Our work suggests that the chronic stress associated with racial discrimination may contribute to racial disparities in cognition and [Alzheimer’s Disease],” senior author Lynn Rosenberg, an epidemiologist at the Slone Epidemiology Centre at Boston University and a principal investigator of the Black Women’s Health Study, said.