Posts made in January, 2009

Soy-ta interesting….

Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 in herbal medicine | 1 comment

A new study suggests that a key component of an isoflavone found in soy, confers significant improvements in mood-related symptoms in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who lack the ability to produce this component on their own. The component, which is called S-equol, is involved in the metabolism of an isoflavone known as daidzein.

In this study, which appears  in the online edition of the journal Menopause, researchers randomly and blindly assigned 134 women to daily placebo, 10 mg of equol daily or 10 mg equol three times a day. All study participants also completed questionnaires at the study’s start and after the completion of the study on menopausal symptoms and moods. Additionally, they underwent physical exams and urine testing.

The results showed that women taking equol experienced significant declines in all menopausal mood symptoms except depression (although compared to women who were assigned placebo, the decline in depression was significant).

Overall, women taking equol showed significant declines in tension-anxiety and fatigue, and improvements in vigor scores. No side effects were noted, except for a rash in one woman taking equol.

These data suggest that supplementation with S-equol may help to improve mood-related symptoms in peri- and post-menopausal women. What’s more, the team concluded that equol supplementation may offer a promising alternative to estrogen therapy.

Sorta interesting, right?!

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Wednesday Bubble: I’d walk a mile

Posted by on Jan 28, 2009 in hot flash, HRT | 0 comments

Fact or fiction? I’ve written previously about the link between cigarette smoking and hot flashes. In fact, the association consistently arises in many of the studies I’ve run across. When I first posted about this, it seemed to push a lot of buttons, primarily because many of my contemporaries, myself included, smoked at one point in our lives.

Hence, I was intrigued when I found this study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology discussing the underlying cause of the association between cigarette smoking and hot flashes.

In the study, perimenopausal women who were either experiencing or not experiencing hot flashes were asked to complete a questionnaire and provide a blood sample so that researchers could measure their hormones.

The results showed that women who were current smokers had significantly higher levels of androstenedione (a precursor to sex hormones)  and higher ratios of androgens to estrogens than women who never smoked.  Additionally, current smokers had significantly lower levels of progesterone than never smokers.

Nevertheless, while both former and current smokers had increased odds of experiencing hot flashes (1.4 times greater for former and 2.4 times greater for current) than never smokers, this link was not altered or influenced in women who were also taking hormones.

Researchers have long believed that factors that influence estrogen levels, such as a higher body mass index (which increases them) or cigarette smoking (which decreases them) protect against or lead to vasomotor symptoms, respectively. Yet, in this particular study, hormone changes did not weaken the effect of smoking on hot flashes.

These results suggest that the effect of cigarette smoking on hot flashes, while very real and relevant, is not influenced by hormones.

Unanswered questions.  Undoubtedly the bottom line is to stop smoking if you continue to do so, not only for heart and lung health, but also, to help avoid those troublesome hot flashes.

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Breast cancer risk and HRT – what matters most?

Posted by on Jan 26, 2009 in HRT | 3 comments

Data from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium last month provided definitive evidence that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer by 26% in menopausal women.  However, does route of administration (e.g., patch, oral) or type of  HRT matter?

According to a study in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, route of administration does not matter. But the progestagen component does.

Data were extrapolated from 80,377 postmenopausal women living in France and participating in E3N (a study designed to investigate risk factors for cancer) between 1990 and 2002.  At the study’s start, the average age of participants was 53 years. HRT types included estrogen only and estrogen plus progesterone, dydrogesterone combinations or other types of progesterone.

Over the study period 2,354 cases of invasive breast cancer occurred. Compared with women who never used HRT, women using estrogen alone had a 1.29-fold increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, breast cancer risk varied significantly depending upon the type of progestagen:

  • Risk was significantly lower with estrogen-progestagen HRTS containing progesterone or dehydrogesterone than with estrogen combinations involving other types (e.g., nomegestrol acetate, norethisterone acetate, medroxyprogesterone acetate)
  • The aformentioned combinations Ii.e. estrogen plus progesterone or  dehydrogesterone)  were associated with no or only a slight increase in breast cancer risk (1 fold greater or 1.16 fold greater, respectively).
  • The results remained the same when analysis was restricted women whose age at the start of menopause could be most accurately determined.

Although the effect of progestagen remains somewhat unclear, and factors such as experimental conditions, length of time taking them and dose can influence results, the researchers did conclude that some HRT combinations may be safer than others.

Researchers also emphasize that further study is needed, and that medical experts are still unsure how HRT combinations affect other disease risks, such as heart disease, stroke and colorectal cancer.

Meanwhile, if you are taking HRT, talk to your health practitioner and find out which progestagen you’re taking. Better safe than sorry, right?!

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Posted by on Jan 25, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I wanted to apologize for the slight interruption in Flashfree. Back on track on Monday!

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Speaking of blondes…Hot flashes and 20 other symptoms of menopause

Posted by on Jan 21, 2009 in humour | 5 comments

Have I got your attention yet?

Since this is a week of change, I thought I’d swap Wednesday’s Bubble out for a guest post by my Twitter friend, The Daily Blonde, known to her friends as Cheryl Phillips. I caught this post on Cheryl’s blog and knew it was a winner. Enjoy!

I got the good news about a year ago. My doctor told me that I was in “perimenopause.” Peri meaning what? I’m only going to be on the big old mood swing occasionally? Far be it for me to say, but I like some consistency in my life. I don’t want to do things half-assed. I want my mood swings to be on a regular basis so they don’t sneak in and scare me…or anyone else for that matter.

Menopause. Figures there’s the word “men” in it. They’ve always caused me to pause. Never mind the pausing, they’ve caused me sweat, anxiety, mood swings and general pain. But then there have been a few who’ve just made me hot. Those are the men worth pausing for.

Back to me. (I like it when it’s back to me. With five children I only get a few “me” moments…mostly when I lock the bathroom door and hide.) OK, I keep digressing. I thought I’d do a search on the symptoms of menopause (since apparently that’s where I’m headed). I think I had one of the major symptoms today in the supermarket. As I paid for my items the sweat poured down my face and pooled in my ever so sexy sports bra. I was trying to look very “together” in my puddle of sweat. It was 20 degrees outside and not much warmer in the market. I felt like I was on fire.

The clerk was about 17 years old. I told her that she’d be just like me in about 30 years and to enjoy her inner air conditioning. Mine just seemed to stop working. She didn’t make eye contact with me after I scared her. Poor thing.

I love to research things. Usually things more pleasant than menopause, but hell, this is REAL life. The first website I came across about menopause had a list of twenty symptoms. Twenty?? Isn’t one symptom enough? As I perused the list, I was so hoping to find nausea, vomiting and occasional diarrhea. Aren’t those typical side effects for just about every medication on the market? It must be the same for menopause. Sure enough, that’s #18 on the list.

Here goes….oh so much to look forward to!

  1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes: OK, I’ve got that!
  2. Clammy feeling: Not yet…can’t wait!
  3. Irregular heart beat: Only if my phone rings at 3am
  4. Irritability: This has been going on for one day a month since I was eleven years old.
  5. Mood swings, sudden tears: I’m a pretty chipper chick. I do like a good cry though. Mood swings? Me? What are YOU TALKING ABOUT??? I am PERFECTLY FINE!!!! OK??????? Hey, want to snuggle?
  6. Trouble sleeping through the night: I am an insomniac. I wouldn’t know the difference.
  7. Irregular heavier periods or shorter periods: Of course, I got a combination…shorter, heavier. Hey, that sounds like me aging–shorter and heavier.
  8. Loss of libido: This will never happen to me. I keep repeating this and believing in it. Losing my sense of humor and my libido would be dreadful.
  9. Hair Growth: Not sure what this is about but there is a three letter word ladies: WAX
  10. Crashing fatigue: Got it. Got it. Got it.
  11. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease: Yes…I’m extremely anxious about getting all of these symptoms.
  12. Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom: This is why people get feelings of doom…because they read these lists and panic. Not me. I write about them and laugh. Sort of.
  13. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion: I’ve given birth to five children in 24 years. These symptoms were part of the parenting package.
  14. Disturbing memory lapses: I’ve had this for years. I just make lists now and try to keep track of where I put them.
  15. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing: I laugh often and haven’t peed my pants yet.
  16. Itchy, crawly skin: I only get this when I see my ex-husband.
  17. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons: This is the result of having my knee sliced open three times this year, not menopause.
  18. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea: I will not allow this to happen. Ever. OK, I’ll pick nausea if I have to pick one. That’s it.
  19. Weight gain: This is something to look forward to!
  20. Changes in body odor: I assume this doesn’t mean I’ll be smelling like Chanel No.5 ??

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