According to a recent study from the Mayo Clinic, women may have an advantage over men when it comes to retaining their memories in old age. The study found that as men age, their brains shrink more than women's in areas associated with memory, reducing their ability to retain information.

Led by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Clifford Jack, the study looked at 1,246 people with no cognitive disabilities between the ages of 30 and 95. Both sexes started to see their memories decline at around age 30, but by 40, men's memories began to go downhill much faster than women's. After age 60, there were clear differences in the average size of the hippocampus between men and women, with men's becoming much smaller. 

According to the researchers, much of this difference may be due to the protective effect of estrogen on the body. The hormone is able to reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease in pre-menopausal women, so researchers think it may be able to protect the areas of the brain that shrink in men as well. 

"Men can't do anything about the absence of the protective effect of estrogen. And while it goes away for some women by 50, if a woman has had a lifetime of protective advantage, there's still quite a residual effect for a number of years past that," Jack told CNN.

However, the study also showed that this ordinary brain shrinkage was not linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's or dementia, for which women are at a higher risk than men. 

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