Posts made in February, 2009

More on soy

Posted by on Feb 6, 2009 in colon cancer | 2 comments

I’ve posted several times about the potential effectiveness of soy isoflavones for safely relieving certain symptoms such as hot flashes. You can find those posts here.

Evidence now suggests that the benefits of soy may extend beyond troublesome menopause symptoms.  In fact, it appears that eating soy foods may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer after menopause.

In this study, published in February’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined 68,412 women (ages 40 to 70) who were cancer- and diabetes-free at the start of the trial. Information on soy food intake was assessed at the start and then at follow up through in-person interviews and questionnaires.

Over the entire study, 321 colorectal cancer cases were identified. However, after adjusting any factors that might skew the results, the researchers found that:

  • Total soy food intake was associated with a lower risk for developing colorectal cancer
  • For each 5 gram increase daily in soy foods (~1 oz tofu), there was an 8% reduction in cancer risk
  • The association between intake of soy foods and lowered colorectal cancer risk was mostly seen in post-menopausal women

Similar results were also observed for soy protein intake and isoflavones.

These promising findings suggest the potential to not only glean benefit from eating soy-rich foods during menopause but also well beyond menopause. Encouraging news!

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Wednesday Bubble: What about us?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2009 in health, general | 1 comment


I attended the Fem 2.0 conference in Washington, DC this past Monday. It was inspiring to see women, young and old, coming together to discuss issues and solutions to the many problems facing women today. However, as much as there was unity, I also observed a troublesome divide, one that struck me as naiive and counterproductive to our overall goals. So I would like to both commend the organizers (and attendees) of this conference but also point out that

Healthcare for women is not only about reproductive rights and family planning.

What’s more, healthcare reform, should it occur, is not only about reproductive rights and family planning.

By focusing on these issues at the detriment of others, we disenfranchise a large majority of women who face challenges that have nothing to do with either of these issues, women like us, for example.

So I would like to pose this question:

What. About. Us?

If we are to indeed make progress and move women into the 21st Century in an equal and empowering way, we need to include all women, of all ages in our efforts.   Reproductive issues extend well beyond bearing children and as many of us who are in midlife are well aware, include post-reproductive changes that can pull the rug right out from under you.  In fact, health issues that challenge women change with every decade. And focusing only on the here and now is short-sighted in so many ways.

Time to expand the horizon and look beyond your nose.

Let’s try to be uniters rather than dividers. Let’s try to pay attention to the whole and not to the parts. Let’s embrace change rather than hide it under the carpet. Let’s be all inclusive and not exclusive because we simply don’t understand the changes that await us.

What about us? What about them? What about you?

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Mind over data

Posted by on Feb 2, 2009 in mind-body therapy | 0 comments

Can the positive effects of mind-body medicine truly be measured by Western methodology?  Does the one-size fits all paradigm work?

I stumbled across an extensive, well-designed review of the value of yoga for menopausal symptoms in the online edition of the journal Menopause. While I generally provide a link, the site is having some technical issues so you’ll need to take my word.

Mind-body interventions, e.g., yoga, have been shown to stabilize the nervous system, increase overall sense of well-being and decrease stress. Some data support its use in alleviating menopausal symptoms.  However, Western researchers have not been able to find research that consistently supports these positive effects.

In the present review, researchers were able to identify 7 studies that met their criteria for critically assessing evidence demonstrating whether or not yoga ameliorated symptoms such as mood change, hot flash, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and  impaired cognitive function, etc.

  • 2 trials compared the effects of y0ga to walking or other physical exercise
  • 2 trials compared yoga to wait list (guess this means that subjects were on a waiting list for yoga sessions) or no treatment
  • The remaining studies were either uncontrolled (meaning that participants are given a treatment and then observed for a specific period of time) or non-randomized (meaning that all participants had the same treatment)

Most of the studies used Iyengar, integrated or restorative yoga, and participants attended yoga sessions anywhere from 2 to 3 times weekly.

Overall, the researchers found that there was not enough evidence to support yoga’s effectiveness in treating menopausal symptoms.

Note that the researchers, in their review (and to their credit), pointed out the following:

  • Yoga might be ineffective or studies were not adequately designed or treatment may not have been administered optimally in the particular study setting. Additionally, the study groups may not have been suitable for treating menopausal symptoms.
  • There are significant differences in the various forms of yoga, begging the question, can data be sufficiently pooled or compared?

Their overall conclusion? That “the current best evidence is not convincing to suggest that yoga is an effective treatment” for menopausal symptoms. And that “further and better research is required to investigate whether there are specific benefits of yoga for women with menopausal symptoms.”

I applaud these researchers because they recognize the many caveats of applying Western philosophy to alternative interventions. So, the jury’s still out.

Okay Jury…..What do you think? Has yoga helped your symptoms?

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