(CNN)Chronic stress can change your brain. Experiencing racism could make it worse.
Racial discrimination may increase stress, lead to health problems and hamper cognitive function for Black women, a new study finds.
Black women who frequently experienced daily racism — including racial slurs, poor store service or forms of stereotyping — had 2.75 times the risk of poor subjective cognitive functioning than women who experienced lower levels of daily racism.
Cognitive function refers to a person's mental capacity for learning, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, remembering and paying attention.
The statistic is according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.
Those who encountered the greatest degrees of institutional racism — in regard to work, housing or police — were 2.66 times more likely to report poor cognitive functioning than women who experienced institutional racism less often.
The findings weren't "unexpected because we know that stressors have been related to poor cognitive function, and experiences of racism are very large stressors in the lives of African Americans," said Lynn Rosenberg, the senior author of the study, an epidemiologist at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and a professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.