Too much iron on the brain is associated with brain diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - and now researchers has found women who had had a hysterectomy may over-produce iron during the menopause, to levels equal to men.
UCLA researchers used an MRI technique that can measure the amount of ferritin iron in the brain
Dr. George Bartzokis, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and colleagues compared iron levels in women who had undergone a hysterectomy before menopause - so did not menstruate and lose iron - with levels in postmenopausal women who had not had a premenopausal hysterectomy.
Iron accumulates in the body as we age, which may explain why disease such as Parkinson's is more prevalent in later years.
Dr Bartzokis suggests it may be possible to reduce age-related brain iron accumulations by balancing nutrition, avoiding iron-rich supplements and drinking curcumin or green tea, which have molecules that bind to and remove iron.