Racism May Speed Up Aging and Increase Risk of Preventable Diseases in Black Women

Black women who experienced greater racial discrimination exhibited brain activity that accelerated aging and put them at higher risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and dementia, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

These findings highlight how racial discrimination can negatively impact health, says coauthor Negar Fani, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“We were able to show there’s increased engagement in a brain network associated with rumination in relation to racism, and it has a link to accelerated aging. This helps us better understand the link between why racial discrimination is so frequently associated with more health problems,” says Dr. Fani.

Rumination means thinking over and over again about something you’ve experienced, perhaps trying to analyze it in different ways, she explains.

“We all engage in rumination; it’s a very natural process. But sometimes rumination keeps us stuck in a loop, and it can wear down the brain over time,” she says.

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