Posts made in March, 2011

Wednesday Bubble: All the news that’s fit to…?

Posted by on Mar 30, 2011 in emotions, general | 4 comments

What a perfect mid-week bubble than to burst 1970’s misconceptions about women and menopause. Seriously, wasn’t this the era of feminism and bra burning, not histronics about emotionally unstability and how it might leadership?

Even more frightening? In some circles, these viewpoints remain.

A blast from this past…this one’s only fit for bursting and burning, not for printing.

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Early menopause – don’t drink the (PFCs) water

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in Early menopause | 2 comments

Some rather disturbing news is coming out of the West Virginia University Department of Community Medicine, where researchers are saying that women found to be exposed to high levels of perfluorocarbons (PFCs may be at risk for early menopause.

PFCs are manmade chemicals that have been historically used in a variety of products found in the household, such as food containers, clothing, furniture, carpeting and paints. Often used to repel stains and for water proofing, PFCs have unfortunately found their way into our water, the air we breathe, the soil, plant life and animals. And as the researchers report in the March 16 online edition of the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, these chemicals have a long half-life, meaning that their presence in our lives appears to be ubiquitous.

In this particular study, the researchers examined data that had been collected from 25,957 women residing near Parkersburg WV who were between the ages of 18 and 65 and were believed to have been exposed to PFCs via their drinking water. After excluding women who had had hysterectomies, and accounting for factors such as smoking, age, body mass index, alcohol use and physical activity, they found that women with high blood levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) — both types of PFCs — were significantly more likelier to experience menopause at an earlier age than their peers with lower exposure levels. Moreover, exposure to high levels of PFOS in particular appeared to negatively effect concentrations of naturally occurring estrogen (i.e. estradiol), with higher levels of the chemical associated with lower estrogen levels, an event that occurs naturally in menopause as reproductive hormones start to wane.

Premature menopause has been associated with increased risk for a variety of conditions and due diligence is recommended. An increased of heart disease due to declining endogenous estrogen production is probably the most frightening and the one that experts appear to be most worried about. Conversely, women who maintain their estrogen levels for the longest period of times reportedly have a 20% decreased risk of dying from heart disease. And, the researchers point to another often disregarded issue, which is, that “the onset of accelerated decline in ovarian function and menopause is believed to be fixed,” i.e. early menopause equals an accelerated decline in fertility before age 32.

Of note, this study is a cros-sectional study, meaning that the researchers were unable to tease out factors that might affect their findings, such as length of time of exposure, or that PFC concentrations are higher in postmenopausal women because menstrual flow actually eliminates some of the PFC toxin in blood (blood is replaced faster than the toxin) and that since these women are no longer losing blood, the PFC remains. Still, lead researcher Dr. Sarah Knox believes that a danger exists, stating that “if PFCs are causing early menopause, then these women are at an increased risk for heart issues [since PFCs affect blood lipids]. If they aren’t, there are still toxins accumulating in the body that shouldn’t be there.” In other words, it’s bad news anyway you slice it.

Knox recommends that individuals, especially women, start taking precautions to eliminate or at least reduce exposure to PFCs, including:

  • Selecting hardwood floors over stain resistant carpeting in the home
  • Wearing cotton rather than synthetic clothing
  • Using an air popper or stove to make popcorn rather than a microwave
  • Microwaving food in glass rather than plastic containers, and,
  • Using cast-iron cookware instead of non-stick coated cookware.

I strongly believe that more research is needed on this issue and we need specific facts on how PFCs affect reproduction, if age plays a role or if menses and blow flow are important variables. Meanwhile, all women should start taking care to reduce exposure to environmental toxins and even more importantly, engage in heart-health-boosting measures that include diet, exercise and being mindful of  alcohol consumption.

Don’t drink the water? Well, you might want to stick with the bottled version once it’s all figured out. The PFOA link in this piece directly leads you to more information on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

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Three’s a crowd

Posted by on Mar 25, 2011 in women's health | 0 comments

Last year I introduced the concept of crowdsourcing menopause, a concept, while foreign to some readers, may be very familiar to others. Afterall, three’s a crowd, right?

Well, not quite, at least when it comes to women’s health. I am ready to shake things up a bit and am suggesting that we start to take our healthcare back into our own hands. This idea is not a new one and the burgeoning epatient movement is a primary example of how white noise is actually translating into a new language.

Yesterday, I sat in a room of people and watched this idea actually take hold. I saw the lightbulb go off in the heads of representatives of some major players in the healthcare arena. And while I can’t provide the ‘whats, hows or where,” I can tell you that changes are underfoot and soon, three won’t be enough of a crowd.

Do yourselves a favour: keep talking, sharing, demanding and acting. That change is gonna come…

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Wednesday Bubble: Pins and Needles?

Posted by on Mar 23, 2011 in humour | 0 comments

Every now and then a reader sends a link that deserves a lot of attention…like this one.  Because as we all know, humour is essential to health and wellbeing and to getting through particularly challenging situations. And when flashes and sweats and swings (oh my!) start to send you into a tizzy, rather than rating your inner “raging maniac,” you may want to just play it old school: voodoo, and new school: good voodoo.

And so, with great delight and lots of giggles, I bring you this week’s Bubble: The Menopause Voodoo Doll.

Truly, when you’re feeling down and low, tag that sucker with ‘killer abs,’ ‘no night sweats’ or ‘still one hot mama,’ and get the good going again.

We may be menopausal. But we ain’t dead yet.

p.s. My birthday’s coming up…

Thanks Beth for the link!

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Solitude, a redux

Posted by on Mar 21, 2011 in Inspiration | 5 comments

[Image: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne]

Two years ago I wrote a post about the distinction between solitude and being alone. In it, I discussed how important it is to take time for yourself but not to block yourself off from others so much that you become very much alone and the alone time, all consuming.

I am reposting this piece for two reasons:

Emotional pain can cause us to go deeply inside ourselves, pain and worry for a loved one, concern for a friend, fear of loss. A short stint alone to sort out those feelings can be imperative for some. But then, it’s time to face those fears or concerns or pain head-on.

I did that this past weekend. I learned a lot about myself and confirmed that more often than not, your own pain is not always as important as another’s, that the best antidote for the yearn and urge to run is to move towards and not away from your fears.

So, I give you solitude. And I take back mine, if only, for a day or so…

The French novelist Colette once wrote:

“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”

I have always been a person who needs and cherishes my alone time. In fact, being alone is often a deliberate choice rather than something that is forced upon me. As we get older, solitude allows a break from the busy-ness of life, from the noise, from the distractions. It rejuvenates the soul and provides an opportunity to look closely within, to take stock, to gain clarity and balance.

However, as Colette so aptly says, it can also be detrimental to our health when our needs or when fears, allow solitude to become all-consuming.

At times, immersing oneself in solitude may be the correct path. Other times, solitude may lead to a burrowing that is so deep, that in the end, not only do you lose those who care for you, but your soul as well.

Poetic license with Lao-Tsu: It takes strength to love someone deeply. It takes courage to allow yourself to be deeply loved.

One more thing. Strength lies in stepping outside the comfort zone. That is the true path to growth, even when it means you have to set aside the comfort of your burrow or cave.

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