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Stress Roundup

July 12, 2013

The hormone estrogen is protective against chronic stress.



Protecting the brain with estrogen. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Women handle chronic stress better than men do, and new research on rats, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, may reveal why. In male rats under stress, brain cells in the prefrontal cortex were unable to respond to an important signaling chemical called glutamate; females showed less impairment. But if the males were given more estrogen, the brain cells functioned normally. The researchers hope to develop a compound that would have the protective aspects of estrogen, without hormonal side effects.

Estradiol, the most common form of Estrogen. (Wikimedia Commons)

In other news, a study in the British Medical Journal reveals that kids with irregular bed times may have learning difficulties. Starting at age three, children who went to bed at regular bed times every night outperformed other children in reading, math and spatial awareness tests. The study highlights the dangers of reduced or disrupted sleep. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.