Posts made in December, 2008

Packin’ the luv…handles

Posted by on Dec 22, 2008 in hot flash | 1 comment


It seems that that roll around your abdominal area might be increasing your odds of having hot flashes, according to a study published in this past May/June issue of the journal Menopause.

Currently, two competing theories have been used to explain how body fat might affect flashes:

1) Androgens (e.g. testosterone)  influence the distribution of body fat in both men and women. So, it is possible that the conversion of androgens to estrogens in body fat actually decreases hot flashes.

2) Body fat actually increases hot flash frequency regardless of hormonal balance.

To determine which of these two theories was most probable,  a study was undertaken in 461 women (ages 45 to 58) participating in an ancillary study of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. The results? Increased abdominal fat, in particular, fat found just below the skin in the abdominal area, increased the odds of hot flashes by 1.3 times. This association was not reduced when reproductive hormones were measured.

I’ve written previously about the role of adoposity in the metabolic syndrome. And as many of us know who are struggling with middle-aged weight gain (emphasis on “middle”), abdominal rolls become more and more difficult to attack when hormones go awry.

So, the news about abdominal fat and hot flashes is not especially welcome.

What can you do to attack the health risks and nuisance side effects of abdominal fat?

Let’s put one myth to rest immediately:

No specific food  or herb is going to influence where your body stores its fat. And abdominal exercises that claim to “target”  or spot reduce fat, e.g.,  crunches,  do not.

Fewer calories and healthy eating habits, coupled with more aerobic activity and strength training, can help. My friend Mark Salinas, over the MarkSalinasBlog, also has some wonderful tips for weight management and workouts on his site so I encourage you to peruse some of his posts.

Any other tips you’d like to share? Tell me; what do you do to attack those love handles and send em packing? Better yet, have your hot flashes gotten worse with hormonal weight gain?

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More great news about needles

Posted by on Dec 19, 2008 in hot flash, sleep disturbance | 4 comments

Tis the Season for needles…pine and otherwise!

Norwegian researchers are reporting that acupuncture plus self-care can reduce the frequency of hot flashes substantially in postmenopausal women! Now that’s a gift I can get my arms around!

In this study, published in the December 4 advanced, online edition of Menopause, 267 postmenopausal women who experienced at least 7 hot flashes every 24 hours for at least 7 consecutive days received:

1) 10 acupuncture treatments plus an informational brochure on self-care for menopause symptoms, or

2) An informational brochure on self-care for menopause symptoms only

The results showed that hot flash frequency decreased by 50% over 24 hours in women receiving acupuncture compared to those who only received self-care instructions. The researchers aso noted significant improvements in vasomotor (e.g. night sweats) , sleep and emotional/psychological  symptoms among women receiving acupuncture.

I’ve written about the value of acupuncture for hot flashes and improved sleep quality previously. I’m glad to see that more evidence is accruing supporting this wonderful, safe modality to improve menopausal symptoms.

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is also an excellent source for more information and help finding a qualified practitioner.

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Wednesday Bubble: Got change?

Posted by on Dec 17, 2008 in humour | 1 comment

Got change?

I’m going to take a detour from Wednesday  ‘business as usual’ and share this wonderful cartoon I ran across in the British Cartoon Archives at the University of Kent, UK.



Credit: Paul Thomas, Uncaptioned. Daily Express, 24 September 1999; The British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent, catalogue record 52191.

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News Flash!!!! More bad news about hormone therapy

Posted by on Dec 14, 2008 in breast cancer, HRT | 2 comments

Today marks the close of 31st Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. And the news that taking hormones to prevent menopause symptoms for five years doubles the risk for breast cancer.

Dr. Rowan Chelboski from the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center presented these bubble bursting results on Saturday.  Tracking over 15,000 women originally enrolled in the halted  Women’s Health Initiative study (originally designed to examine the use of Wyeth’s Prempro until higher risks of heart disease were observed), the researchers plotted breast cancer cases over time for an average 5.5 years.

Importantly, they saw a clear trend showing increased breast cancer risk at the start of using the pills, a peak in risk as the study ended, and a decline once the women stopped using the pills. At its peak, women using hormones had twice the risk of developing breast cancer as those who never used them.

What’s more, despite the argument that the decline in cancer rates seen after women stopped using hormones might be due to fewer mammograms being done to detect cancer, these new data show that mammogram rates were the same among women taking hormones and those not taking hormones.

So what’s the take-away advice? Experts suggest that hormone use in the short-term (3-4) is still safe but recommend that long-term use be avoided or at the very least, dosage reduced.

Personally? I’d look for other safer solutions for those bothersome side effects of menopause.

What do you think?!

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Something’s fishy

Posted by on Dec 12, 2008 in bone health, heart disease, hot flash | 5 comments

A small study in the online edition of the journal Menopause suggests that a supplement containing  omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce hot flashes in menopausal women.

Canadian researchers evaluated the influence of omega-3 supplementation in 120 women (between the ages of 40 and 55) experiencing hot flashes who took either a real pill containing oeicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or dummy pill for 8 weeks.  At the start, study participants had an average of 2.8 hot flashes daily.

At the study’s end, women taking omega-3 fatty acids had 1.5 times fewer hot flashes daily compared to women taking dummy pills, whose hot flash frequency decline by 50%. Hot flash severity, however, remained similar between the groups and the use of omega-3s did not impact mood or other quality of life factors.

Although the researchers caution that more study is needed, it’s important to note that earlier data do suggest that omega-3s may be useful in reducing hot flashes.  Regardless, the benefits of incorporating omega-3s in midlife, which include potential protection against heart disease and osteroporosis, should not be overlooked.

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