Search results for women's health initiative

Newsflash! Severe hot flashes? Keep an eye out for bone health!

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in bone health, hot flash, osteoporosis | 0 comments


Heads up! If you experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats, you may be at higher risk for lower bone density and in turn, a higher rate of hip fractures than women without these symptoms. These study findings were published online yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,

A bit of background…researchers prospectively examined data from over 23,000 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative study who did not use hormones. The goal was to assess the association, if any between vasomotor symptoms, that is, hot flashes and/or night sweats, and bone mineral density. In turn, they collected self-reports of fractures (i.e. hip, spine, non-vertebral) on a semi-annual basis; these were subsequently confirmed by reviewing medical records.

The findings? Over an average of eight years, women who reported moderate to severe hot flashes or night sweats had almost twice the risk for developing a hip fracture over the time period of the study than women who did not, regardless of a younger age or higher body mass index, or other factors such as time since menopause, race/ethnicity or physical activity. And, while additional analyses did slightly reduce this risk, moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms remained a significant risk factor for hip fracture over the study course. Additionally, the findings demonstrate that women with more severe symptoms had lower bone mineral density measures over time in the hip joint and spine.

Although it’s unclear, the researchers note that lower estradiol levels may account for the association between more severe symptoms and lower bone mineral density (as, data have shown that women with higher estradiol levels during menopause tend to have lower rates of bone loss). Regardless, having more severe flashes and sweats should raise a few red flags for women and their practitioners and prompt greater attention to lifestyle strategies for preserving bone mineral density. This topic has been covered thoroughly on Flashfree, and strategiest include diet, weight-bearing exercise and adequate sun exposure.


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Health, wellbeing and social support. Give to the Max is setting a new revolution in motion…

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in aging, Inspiration, women's health, work | 0 comments

I spend a lot of time on this blog writing about health and wellbeing and how the foundation for the two starts (and ends) with social support. Indeed, research has shown that women’s innate ability to nurture and nourish ties, coupled with overall satisfaction with work significantly predicts wellbeing especially during midlife and over the menopausal transition. It may even affect how long we live. Nowhere is this more important than in the communities where we reside because as much as many of us complain about how busy we are, there is a deep, soul stroking satisfaction in being able to help one another.

That is why it saddens me when I witness women building one another up in the community only to tear one another down in the workplace.

A line from a wonderful article that appeared in the New York Times in 2009 acknowledged certain stereotypes continue to perpetuate bad behavior. And, that as Author Peggy Klaus so aptly wrote, “the pink elephant is lurking in the room and we pretend it’s not there.”

Klaus’ point was that rather than help build each other’s careers, women often work to derail each other, engaging in “verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority and destroying of relationships.” She cited data suggesting that this type of behavior is directed from women to women more than 70% of the time, while the men who are “bullies in the workplace,” direct their aggression equally to both genders.

She encouraged us however, not to determine the why but rather, engage one another to put an end to this type of behavior.

Here’s an idea. Let’s start by supporting and building more power, self sufficiency and emotional equity from within businesses and from the top down. In other words, why not make an effort to support female-owned/founded businesses in our communities, especially those businesses that are working to eliminate inequities and promote the very qualities that improve health and wellbeing?

I recently learned that there are several female-founded nonprofit organizations  in the region where I personally live that truly embody these principles:

  • Suited for Change  Founded in 1992, Suited for Change provides professional clothing, career and life skills education to low-income women in order to increase employment and job retention potential. Their clientele include homeless women, survivors of domestic violence, teen mothers, senior citizens, returning citizens, and women who have overcome addiction.
  • Back on my Feet DC is an organization that promotes self sufficiency of homeless women (and men) — not through provision of shelter and food — but through physical activity, i.e. a running program to build confidence strength and self esteem, and teach the value of hard work, equality, respect, teamwork and leadership.

These nonprofits are only two examples of female-founded organizations that work to build self efficiency from the ground up and the top down, helping thousands of  individuals learn the value of self assurance. mutual respect and support. I can only imagine what hundreds of other organizations are likewise doing to break down barriers and build wellbeing.

Want to help me find out?

If  you know a local nonprofit that could use some extra support. then you need to know about  Give to the Max. And if you are ready to engage other women to learn how we can consistently build one another up, then you will want to know about Give to the Max.

On November 9, thousands of organizations and residents in the region are uniting to take part in Give to the Max Day, a one-day regional online fundraiser to support local nonprofit programs. Give to the Max provides DC, Maryland and Virginia 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations visibility and even a lasting web presence to conduct ongoing fundraising initiatives after November 9.  Most importantly, however, it’s a fantastic way for the community to give back and to support one of the region’s most important economic drivers at a time when the economy is taking a toll on charitable giving and simultatneously creating overwhelming demands for social services. For women, in particular, it’s a great start to breaking down the barriers that are destroying us in the workplace and finding ways to improve how we treat one another and why.

However, this day is not simply about women and women-owned nonprofits; an ‘Eight Neighbors Group’ alliance of the area’s leading nonprofit and civic organizations (Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers) have joined forces with the online fundraiser Razoo, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and the United Way of the National Capital Area to insure that nonprofits have an opportunity to raise thousands of dollars in donations and grants on a single day.

But why should you care if you don’t  live in the DC/MD/VA region?

Give to the Max is just a start, an incentive for other other regions around the country to take back the health of their communities and leverage the individual for the collective wellbeing. As women, we have an opportunity to engage one another to end destructive behavior — not only in the workplace, but where we live.

Health and wellbeing start from where we all dwell; the heart. Let’s Give to the Max on November 9 and set a new revolution in motion.
















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Newsflash! Two a day diet drinks habit might be harming your heart!

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in heart disease | 0 comments



Are you a fan of diet drinks? Do you consume them because they help to keep overeating at bay? Newsflash: you may want to reconsider how diet drinks are actually affecting your health.

Ironically, despite their promise to help you lose weight (and in turn, become healthier) previous studies have linked diet drink consumption to weight gain and an increased risk for metabolic syndrome. Now, researchers presenting at the American College of Cardiology Annual Meeting report that postmenopausal women who consume two or more diet drinks daily may up their risk for cardiovascular disease by as much as 30%. What’s more, the data suggest that the risk from dying from a heart-related event (e.g. heart attack or stroke) might be upped by as much as 50%.

Dr. Ankur Vyas of the University of Iowa evaluated reported dietary habits by almost 60,000 women from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, who at the study’s start, had no signs of preexisting heart disease. While the majority consumed up to three diet drinks a month, about 5% of the women reported drinking two or more daily. And of these women, 8.5% developed heart disease or a composite of different events such as a heart attack or stroke.

The researchers note that increases in these events also occurred in the other groups but in fewer women, so for all intents and purposes, the upped risk is a modest one. Still, even when they factored in other things that might cause heart disease such as BMI, smoking or high cholesterol, women who drank the most diet beverages still had a greater likelihood of developing a heart related event or dying from such event.

It’s too early to say for certain whether or not these findings will bear out closer scrutiny. And, increasingly, experts recommend that people choose the real deal over artificial. However, sugar sweetened beverages may soon be blacklisted across the board.  Word to the wise: water trumps diet drinks every time.

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What’s the latest on calcium supplements?

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Boomer | 0 comments


Calcium. Lord knows that both men and women need calcium for bone health. However, women in particular start to lose bone density as early as age 35 and, within the first 10 years of the onset of menopause, up to 50% of spongy, or trabecular bone (the network that makes up most of bone structure) and up to 30% of cortical bone (the outer shell) are also lost.

Despite its importance to bone health, there is a lot of controversy surrounding calcium, particularly when it comes to the recommended dietary allowance or RDA.  Currently, the Institute of Medicine recommends that women between the ages of 19 and 50 ingest at least 1,000 mg a day and those over 50, 1,200 mg a day. Still, too much of a good thing is too much; an overreliance on supplementation (often as a result to avoid milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products) may increase the risk for heart disease and kidney stones.

In a review in the journal  Menopause, researchers note that women who rely on supplements for their daily calcium needs more often than not take doses that exceed the RDA. The reason that this is problematic is that our bodies cannot absorb more than 500 mg daily of calcium from either food or supplements in any two-hour period, so if you are eating calcium rich foods (which in addition to the aforementioned dairy also includes canned fish with bones, tofu, calcium-fortified products, broccoli, collards and kale), also adding a daily supplement may take you to a place that you want to avoid. Importantly, while higher dietary calcium from food actually appears to reduce kidney stone formation and may even offer protection from heart disease, the opposite is true for supplements:

What should you do?

  • Obtain as much calcium as you can from your diet to meet recommended daily goals and only take supplements if this is impossible or if recommended by your health practitioners.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the RDA goal for calcium can often be reached by taking only 500 mg daily of calcium via supplement.
  • If you are going to rely on calcium supplements, form matters. Researchers believe that calcium citrate may be less likely to cause kidney stones than calcium carbonate. And as I wrote back in 2009, there may be an advantage to a form of calcium known as ossein-hydroxyapatite complex (OHC), which is the mineral component of bones and teeth (OHC goes by the brand name of MCHA or MCHC and is easily found on the web).


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Newsflash: HRT, a “complex pattern of risks and benefits”

Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in HRT | 1 comment


I’m not sure if you saw the headlines yesterday in light of news on the government shutdown but the healthwebz are buzzing about a study published in published in JAMA evaluating outcomes in the now infamous Women’s Health Initiative and the utilization of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms. My only question is why do we keep beating this dead horse?

However, I would be remiss if I did not share the highlights of this latest analysis. So here’s what you need to know and honestly, it’s not very different than the stance of other organizations:

  • The study or analysis, if you will, provides a detailed overview of the findings from both the original and extension trials of the WHI, looking at both combination and estrogen alone hormone therapy.
  • Overall, the risks of combination therapy appear to have outweighed the benefits during the trial. During the extension period, the risk for heart disease remained elevated, a reduced risk for endometrial cancer was seen. Among women who had had hysterectomies before taking HRT, a more balanced risk/benefit equation was seen.
  • With regard to breast cancer, the risks of taking combination therapy versus estrogen alone are not equal; more women have adverse effects from combination therapy.
  • Proponents of HRT have long argued that age matters. The researchers involved in this analysis state that age influences the effects of hormone therapy ‘in some cases’ as does time since menopause onset, and that results appear to be better for younger versus older women, at least in terms of overall death rates due to all causes, deaths due to heart attack and deaths due to cancer.
  • HRT appears to have a more  harmful effect on coronary heart disease when used in older women; the effect on younger women is unclear. They say that further research is needed.
  • Less clear is the link to breast cancer. While the researchers acknowledge that combined hormones may increase breast cancer incidence and cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, the risk might decline once HRT is stopped. They hypothesize that the progestin component is at play but say that more research is needed.
  • While combined HRT may reduce endometrial cancer, it might also increase ovarian cancer risk, as may estrogen alone.
  • Combined HRT has been shown to increase deaths from lung cancer, although neither combined or single hormone therapy appears to influence the total incidence of the cancer.
  • With regard to diabetes, clot risk, gall bladder disease and dementia? A decrease in diabetes risk during treatment disappears overtime and the risk for clotting and gallbladder disease as well as dementia increase.

The researchers write that the overall findings do not support the use of either combination therapy or estrogen alone for chronic disease prevention, even in younger women. And they note that the risks of combination HRT outweigh the benefits, irrespective of a woman’s age.

Look, I don’t need to cover any additional findings or conclusions. Combination HRT is not all it’s cracked up to be. Speak to your doctor. Analyze your risks and determine if a fewer hot flashes or mood swings are worth it. Only you can decide. Me? I’m sticking with the devil I know and like: alternative strategies.


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