Posts made in April, 2009

Onions and bones…nothing to cry about

Posted by on Apr 17, 2009 in bone health | 0 comments


I love onions. Red onions, scallions, yellow onions, spring onions, shallots; you name it. Sauteed, raw, caramelized, fried, baked. Yum! So, imagine my pleasure when I stumbled across an interesting study in the July issue of Menopause that shows a link between onion consumption and increased bone density. Yowza!

Okay, so your breath might be a bit ripe but your bones will love you for it!

Although calcium, vitamin D supplements and exercise are effective prevention tools against osteoporosis, they have not been shown to add much in the way of slowing bone loss. To address this hole in therapy, researchers have been looking towards phytochemicals, i.e. natural compounds in plants, to examine if they might increase the activity of bone building cells (osteoblasts) and decrease the activity of cells the breakdown bones (osteoclasts).

Spurred by studies in rats, researchers analyzed the bone density (repeated five times) and onion consumption (from 2 or more times daily to 1 to 6 times a year to never) in 507 perimenopausal and postmenopausal non-Hispanic white women, age 50 and older, participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Women were divided  into four groups based on their onion consumption:

  • Less once/month
  • 2 times a month to 2 times a week
  • 3 to 6 times a week
  • Once a day or more

Because certain variables are considered risk factors for osteoporosis and could influence study findings, the researchers also measured age, smoking status, calcium intake, use of vitamin D supplements, thyroid hormone levels, intensity of exercise regimens (i.e. none, moderate, vigorous), use of estrogen, and body mass index.

The findings? The more onions the women ate, the greater the increase in their bone density. In fact, women who consumed onions at least once daily had an overall bone density of their spine that was 5% greater than women who consumed onions once a month or less.

What the study didn’t tell us was the quantity (e.g. one cup) and type of onions consumed.

Studies comparing the bone density of smokers and non-smokers at different ages have shown that a bone density difference of 4% can confer a 41% greater risk of hip fracture. So while a 5% difference seems marginal at best, the potential reduction in the risk of fractures is great.

The researchers caution that certain compounds in onions, such as quercetin, have been associated with cancer causing properties. However, they note that animal studies have found no evidence of such problems. Although further study is needed to determine if women who ate onions also consume foods other than onions that might contribute to their reduced risk for osteoporosis, they believe that onions hold great promise as an addition to other measures that prevent osteoporosis.

Me? I’m all for erring on the side of onions. Tears and all!

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Wednesday Bubble: Sham?

Posted by on Apr 15, 2009 in hot flash | 3 comments


Today’s Bubble troubles me because it’s a bit personal. You see; I want to believe.

Reporting in the Climacteric journal of the International Menopause Society, researchers say that a thorough review of scientific studies examining acupuncture and hot flashes failed to reveal any specific effects.  So, is acupuncture no more effective than sham acupuncture, i.e. placebo?

In this report, which appeared in the February 2009 edition of the journal, researchers searched studies published in 17 databases in different languages. Of the six well-designed trials that were ultimately included in their review, four compared regular acupuncture with sham acupuncture, in which a practitioner will insert needles on acupuncture points that are not relevant for treating hot flashes. The results: none of these trials showed any benefit of acupuncture in terms of frequency or severity of hot flashes.

Only one trial showed any favorable effects: this particular study tested acupuncture against needles that were place on non-relevant points but not inserted into the skin.

So, what can we conclude from these findings?

The researchers say that controlled studies, in which the environment is scientifically designed to mimic real life, fail to show any specific effects of acupuncture for controlling hot flashes. However, they do not appear to believe that this is the end all to be all. Instead, they call for more rigorous trials to further investigate the use of acupuncture for hot flashes.

Perhaps the ACUFLASH trial will shed more light.

What are your experiences with acupuncture? Have you used it specifically to treat hot flashes?

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More joys of soy

Posted by on Apr 13, 2009 in heart disease, menopause | 5 comments

More news on soy. Researchers have discovered yet another component of soy isoflavones that may prove useful in improving symptoms of menopause: soy aglycons of isoflavones (SAI). Soy aglycons are a group of chemicals found in fermented soybeans and comprise a great portion of diets for Chinese and Japanese individuals. Of note, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and menopausal symptoms are often seen in a smaller percentage of these women than their European and American counterparts.

Among the various chemical molecules of soy, SAI are absorbed faster and more efficiently than other components.

In this particular study, which was just published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers fed rats whose ovaries had been removed either high or low doses of SAI-supplemented diets. These animals were then compared to rats with intact ovaries who were fed a regular diet.

The researchers found that rats fed supplemental SAI had significantly lower cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)  values , higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and faster liver metabolism.  The lining of the uterus was also enhanced by dietary SAI supplementation.

They said that these results suggest that SAI may help protect against or lessen symptoms during menopause that are associated with the natural decline of estrogen.  SAI might also be an effective and safe alternative to HRT, which has been linked to breast and uterine cancers. In general, SAI may protect against menopausal heart disease.

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Tick, tock…

Posted by on Apr 10, 2009 in menopause | 0 comments

I ran across an interesting study the other day that suggests that a simple blood test can predict when women will enter menopause.

Although the test is used primarily in the fertility setting (to measure the size of the ovarian follicle pool, if you will), it got me thinking: could it be useful during pre-menopause to predict timing and allow for ample time to, say, engage in more healthy bone-building or heart-strengthening habits or start developing mind-body strategies that reduce stress and promote the production of nitric oxide? Better yet, is this blood test a tool or  marker of time that a major life transition is upon us and prompt us to pay attention to ourselves and start doing things that not only benefit our loved ones but also ourselves?

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology last year, researchers said that they have developed a blood test that measures a hormone known as “anti-Mullerian hormone” (AMH). AMH correlates to immature follicles in the ovaries whose role it is to house mature eggs. The greater the number of these follicles, the more likely it is that a woman will conceive.

In the study, AMH levels were measured in 144 fertile women between the ages of 26 and 46. Researchers then set a baseline level and compared them to the AMH levels in women who had undergone menopause. They were then able to observe that there was a close correlation between declining AMH levels and the age that which menopause began.

Although additional studies are clearly needed to support these findings, some infertility clinics are evidently already using AMH as a marker for a patient’s fertility “potential.” According to an article on the study that appeared in Time magazine last year, the blood test might also be useful in cancer patients to measure the impact of chemotherapy on fertility.

In the interim, it is interesting to consider the utility of the AMH blood test for women in midlife so that they can take steps to insure wellbeing and optimal health during the menopause.

Food for thought.

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Wednesday Bubble: Promises, promises

Posted by on Apr 8, 2009 in sexual desire, sexual health | 1 comment


Have you heard of Lyriana?

Billing itself as ‘The World’s Most Powerful Sexual Enhancement Product Designed Specifically for Women,” Lyriana promises to:

  • Make sex a lot better
  • Increase your desire to have sex
  • Increase sensitivity, lubrication and…”that rip his clothes off feeling.”

All with a money-back guarantee.

Lyriana is an over-the-counter product containing extracts from the Amm Visnaga plant Visnadine, which evidently was used in ancient Egypt to widen the blood vessels and promote blood flow. Theoretically, the use of visnadine in this matter will improve blood flow to the labia and clitoris to enhance sensitivity, promote lubrication  and improve th overall sexual experience.

According to the product website, clinical studies demonstrated the Lyriana effectively improved vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women and did so without irritation or other adverse reactions. Notably, only 27 women were enrolled in their key outcomes study.

So, what do you think? Can Lyriana effectively address sexual issues associated with menopause, including declining desire and lubrication? Or is it just a bunch of promises, promises; another bubble waiting to be popped?


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