And then the power died…what did I forget?

Posted by on Aug 22, 2011 in memory/learning, menopause, Uncategorized | 1 comment


I was planning on writing a review of a new documentary about menopause when the power died. Mama Nature and her power surge obviously has other plans for me so I will leave you to an oldie but goodie. Look for Wednesday’s Bubble cause this doc is worth consideration.

And so, without further ado…


If  you’re anything like me, you are starting to forget things. Things you need to do, why you walk into rooms, shopping lists, things you said, the whole nine yards. For me, it’s become the norm, not the exception and while I spend a lot of time making jokes about it, it also drives me crazy.

Yet, today’s Bubble is not one that I’m likely to forget. I’d like to think of it as one part inspiration and one part WTF? And it leaves me with a whole lot of questions to boot.

Study findings suggest that gaining weight during menopause may increase the risk for loss of gray matter. Gray matter refers to the cortex of the brain, which contains nerve cells. It is involved in muscle control, sensory perception (seeing/hearing), emotions, speech and finally, memory.

In this study, which was published in the online edition of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers evaluated brain imaging data, demographic information (height, weight) and behavioral measures (perceived psychiatric stress) obtained from 48 healthy postmenopausal women. Data were collected over a 20-year period.

The findings showed a unique association between increase in body weight during the transition from peri- to post-menopause (as measured by body mass index or BMI) and a 22% reduction in grey matter volume. These findings occurred in women who were otherwise healthy, had no history of heart disease or psychiatric illness and did not meet the threshold for obesity (>30 BMI). All women had also undergone natural menopause.

The researchers suggest that weight gain during menopause is a “highly modifiable risk factor” that may help to prevent or slow “potential alterations in brain function that are important to quality of life.”

I’ve written previous posts on cognitive issues during menopause, whether they be linked with life stressorsHRT or aging. Now it seems that researchers are telling us that weight gain may also be a risk factor.

Less clear is how much weight gain and what we should do about it. In general one solution to combating weight gain in midlife is restraint. Coupled with exercise, this may just be the magic formula. In the meantime, I think that we need a few more studies to take a closer look at brain matter changes in midlife.

What do you think?

I just forgot why I’m asking you that…!

One Comment

  1. 8-22-2011

    I am 59 and went through menopause at 39. I do not have any type of memory problem, which I attribute to the amount of meditation I have done. Because I am generally aware of this moment and not lost in my head reliving past moments or worried about the future, I remember that I did, indeed, feed the cat, turn off the stove, etc., etc. I cannot stress enough just how beneficial meditation can be. I seldom search for words, although I am noticing that the aromatase inhibitor I am taking post-breast cancer (which drastically cuts down on estrogen production in the body) has affected that type of memory a bit.

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