I had originally written a December Roundup like months prior. And it mysteriously disappeared into the black hole of writing, socks and earrings.
Taking a page from the book of “stir things up,” I decided to shed this year by posting some of my favorites. So, without further interruption, I bring you my top five of 2009. (BTW, I’d love to hear your feedback on the posts that rocked your world, made you happy or sad or that made you think a bit harder.)
- Pink Elephant – Sisters! Listen up – time to start supporting (and not bullying) one another in the workplace.
- Well Well Well – Is wellbeing reallly elusive during menopause?
- Are you rubberstamping the cougar narrative? – Meet Lina, the cougar of cougars who’s turning the notion of cougars on its head….and then some.
- Breast cancer – it’s personal. – My mother, my story. Can’t we do better?
- Wednesday Bubble: Bifocals, babies, hot steamy flashes of perspective. It is enough. – Writer and friend Patti Digh shows us why it’s time to call in the dumpster and accept.
Today’s Bubble is not exactly bursting with good news. On the other hand, it more a matter of erring on the side of caution.
Depression in menopause and midlife is a common occurrence. Although researchers are not quite sure of the exact reasons for its surge during the transition, (e.g. declining hormone, life stress, prior history), many women tend to suffer the blues during this time. In addition to physical activity or herbs, many practitioners recommend that women incorporate a low-dose antidepressant into their daily strategy. Yet, while this might help to maintain mood balance, researchers are starting to question whether or not using antidepressants may increase the risk for dying from heart disease during menopause. Yikes! So, we are given drugs to help boost our moods during menopause but they may end up killing us in the long run? Somehow the old adage, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ doesn’t make me feel better this time.
In a study that appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined information collected from over 136,000 women who had participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Study who either were or were not taking antidepressants over a period of about 6 years. The findings? Women who used SSRI antidepressants had a 45% increased risk of stroke, and a 32% increased risk of death. This risk remained even after researchers took other heart disease risk factors into account, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking.
Here’s the rub: depression is a known risk factor for heart disease and death from heart disease, and has also been linked to an increased risk for stroke. So, researchers are not certain if it’s the chicken (depression) or the egg (antidepressants) that is accounting for these study results.
So, what can you do? Should you throw away the pills?
Not so fast. Speak to your doctor. Get tested for known heart disease risk factors, such as overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, diabetes and of course, smoking. Incorporate heart healthy changes into your life, such as physical activity, a better diet, yoga, meditation and laughter. And then figure out if the benefits of antidepressants are worth the risks. These data are early and inconclusive. Just something to be mindful of if you are in menopause.Read More
Daytime sleepiness? Researchers say that being in menopause, hot flashes, lack of physical activity and your partner might be the culprits. No surprises, right?
In a study appearing in the advanced online edition of the journal Maturitas, 149 women between the ages of 40 and 59 rated the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes and were evaluated for daytime sleepiness.At least half had hot flashes, of which about 43% were rated as very severe.
Not only did hot flashes increase the risk for daytime sleepiness by 2.6 fold, but, being postmenopausal increased it by as much as 6.5-fold. Being sedentary was associated with 3.4 times the risk for daytime sleepiness. What’s more having a partner that was not faithful was associated with an increase in risk by as much as 53%.
The good news is that most of these factors, save for being menopausal, can be modified or at least addressed to improve nighttime sleep and by default, decrease feelings of sleepiness during the daytime. If you feel unusually sleepy most of the time, it’s a great idea to speak to a healthcare practitioner who is helping you to manage your symptoms. There may be some important and effective steps you can take.Read More
Move on over estrogen! The game is up. Researchers have discovered that estrogen acts like the middlewoman when it comes to certain activity in the body. What this means for you: the potential of developing new agents that act like estrogen in the body but avoid all the negative bits, like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and deaths from lung cancer.
The study, which was conducted in rats, showed that estrogen appears to stimulate a brain protein (i.e. calpain) that is critical to learning and memory. When it acts through calpain, it doesn’t act like a hormone (and its “wreak havoc” types of effects) but rather, like a power surger that boosts the ability to process and retain information. Researchers compare this to adrenaline, which acts like a hormone in most of the body but in the brain, helps transmit nerve signals across cells (i.e. a “neurotransmitter”).
Not only do these findings (which were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) change the way that scientists look at estrogen, but as mentioned, they may eventually lead to strategies that allow the medical community who espouses HRT to look elsewhere for solutions to troublesome menopausal symptoms.Read More