Posts made in May, 2010

Wednesday Bubble: the crystal menopause ball

Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Early menopause, heart disease, menopause, women's health | 2 comments

Can you predict the age you will start menopause?

Most women and many experts say that there is a link between when their mothers started menopause and when they will likely start menopause. In fact, the ‘mother’ hypothesis has been explored in numerous studies, with explanations ranging from hormones to genetics to evolutionary selection. However, are there any other determinants or factors that also may come into play? Indeed, it appears that there are. And why is it important? Studies have shown both early (<age 45)  and late (>age 56) menopause to be associated with increased health risks, such as heart disease.

Recent data from a study of over 1,000 women, almost of half of which were postmenopausal, show that weight gain and weight loss in the perimenopausal years may play an important role in determining the age that you start menopause.

After evaluating body mass index and height, and the women’s history of weight loss and gain in body mass index from age 25 to menopause, the researchers found that women with a history of losing 11 pounds or more between age 25 (excluding weight gain or losses due to pregnancy) and menopause or gaining roughly 1 pound or more per year during the same time period were more likely to start menopause later than the average age of 50 or 51. The greater the loss or gain, the later menopause began.  Other factors that also appeared to influence a later menopause included the number of bleeding days between ages 20 and 30 (with “more” associated with “later”), use of an IUD, a later year of birth and how a woman perceived her economic status. On the other hand, women who smoked or had type 2 diabetes before transitioning to menopause and who had a mother who started menopause earlier than age 50, were more likely to start menopause earl

Wondering why this is important?

Clearly, the more information we have about when menopause might start, the greater our ability to start instituting effective strategies, such as exercise, relaxation, diet, etc, to stave off the numerous health issues that arise as our hormones decline. Some of these strategies might also serve a dual purpose of  ameliorating vasomotor symptoms like flashes and night sweats.

Is the crystal ball accurate? Only time will tell. But knowledge is power. Always.

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Flashfree Blogaversary

Posted by on May 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I missed it! Again! May 9, 2010 marked two years of celebrating you, us, we and women everywhere!

I blame the memory issues on hormones. But will raise a glass or two in honor of this momentous occasion later. That is, if I remember!

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That ole glass ceiling still isn’t cracked

Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Work/occupation | 10 comments

You know that pay gap that our Feminist friends have been battling for decades now? It’s still there.

I’m not especially shocked by this revelation. However, what I am a bit shocked about is that contention that the foundation of gender pay disparities rests on a woman’s ability to negotiate salary increases, so much so, that they require a “toolkit” to work their way around this issue.

Reporter Tara Siegel Bernard, who writes about negotiating strategies in this New York Times piece explains that “part of the pay gap” can be easily explained by women’s departure from the workplace to raise a family (leaving them with less experience than their male peers) or that men “tend to work in higher-paying occupations.” Yet, she still quotes a source that claims that about about 40% of the wage gap is unexplained, which is accounted for, at least in part, by women’s negotiating skills (or lack thereof). Her advice?  Be proactive and prepared (great advice) but more importantly, “tailor” your negotiation. This means that women not only need to explain why their request is appropriate but also be sure not to harm their work relationships. Hence, a woman should frame her request based on the company’s needs rather than her own. Additionally, a woman should reexamine how her raise (and theoretically greater responsibility) might affect their home lives.

Say what?!

What year are we living in? And why should women be expected to negotiate merit-based salary increases in a way that is soothing to their bosses? Isn’t this a strategy that ultimately perpetuates the gap and glass ceiling and gender inequities?

When I worked in the corporate world, I was averaging 2o% salary increases on a yearly basis. Those increases were based on merit, performance and the amount of business I was running on the company’s behalf. I did not mince words, massage my requests or consider if rewards for my hard work would negatively affect other commitments in my life. Granted, the days of large salary increases are long gone. But so should the days of granting rewards based on gender be gone.

Bernard also writes that women who leave the formal workplace ultimately end up with less experience than their male counterparts. In a day and age where women (and men) are increasingly entering the world as work-at-home consultants or telecommuters, the experience argument goes right out the window. In fact, I recently read that more and more people prefer to consult on a shorter-term basis, moving from job to job or field to field with ever greater ease.

Finally, while many women choose lower paying career paths, many do not. In fact, according to a recent global survey (which I wrote about late last year) women own 40% of all US businesses and about 51% work in high-paying management, professional and related fields. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2008).

I believe that it’s imperative to provide women with proper guidance and education that empowers them and helps them lower that glass ceiling and narrow disparities in the workplace. Let’s start by fighting the stereotypes and treating them as equal players on the field.

What do you think?

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Is your mattress the ‘key to cool’?

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in nightsweats | 3 comments

Hot flashes? Night sweats? I’ve written about various solutions, ranging from herbs to bed clothes and sheets. But I was intrigued when I ran across an article about a mattress manufacturer that claims that its mattress will keep you cooler without the all the trappings…as in, trapping the heat that is wafting off your body without circulating it properly.

According to Robin McRoskey Azevedo, the president of McRoskey mattresses, the ‘key to cool’ is in the way a mattress is constructed and the materials that are used. Consequently, theoretically, air circulates freely, cotton covers and materials breathe and vented sidewalls and flexible coils allow for better airflow.

Even the customer testimonials sound convincing.

There is a price to comfort, however, as McRoskey sets (mattress plus boxspring) can run upwards of $5,000. Lots of moula to insure better comfort during sleep.

There’s nothing better than a phenomenal mattress. I believe in making the investment because better mattresses do last. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the key to a cooler sleep is a better mattress. Rather, it seems that appropriate herbs (like black cohosh), great sheets, and proper bed clothes can make a huge difference without denting your wallet quite as deeply.

What do you think is the key to cool?

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Wednesday Bubble: Nuts!

Posted by on May 12, 2010 in heart disease | 3 comments

Last month my friend Mollie Katzen spoke to me about the importance of incorporating more good fats into your diet, including nuts. Well, it turns out that nuts are a lot better for you than many of us realize, especially those of you who are thinner and have higher LDL-cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and form fatty deposits known as  plaque). In fact, results of an extensive analysis of 25 studies shows that individuals who are thinner and have higher initial cholesterol levels and who eat about 2.4 ounces or (~2 servings) of nuts (e.g.almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, macademia nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts) daily can  significantly lower their cholesterol over time.

In this analysis, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week, researchers examined data collecte4d from 583 men and women with either normal or high cholesterol levels and whose body-mass indices ranged from 17 to 49. The findings showed that compared to nutless diets, nut diets reduced total cholesterol by as much as 5% and LDL by as much as 7%. People with high triglyceride levels experienced declines by as much as 21%. Although different types of nuts had similar effects on blood fats, the most dramatic effects were seen among people who were thinner, ate more Western-type diets (i.e. higher in saturated fats) had higher LDL cholesterol levels.

What this implies is that nuts can help lower blood fat and cholesterol levels and in turn, help prevent heart disease. Although the studies included in the analysis did not last longer than 8 weeks, the researchers did note that the benefits of eating nuts can be expected at least in the short-term. For menopausal women in particular, this is fantastic news, not only because nuts are an excellent protein and energy source, but because the transition is associated with a dramatic increase in cholesterol and turn, heart disease.

The bottom line? Don’t go nuts….but start getting those nuts into your diet!

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