Wednesday Bubble: What did I forget/hear/see/say…

Posted by on Jul 22, 2009 in exercise, memory/learning, menopause | 7 comments

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 stressors, HRT 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…!


  1. 7-22-2009

    crap, now I am going to be fat and stupid? oh the cruelty of life…

    • 7-22-2009

      Growing old’s a bitch, ain’t it?!

  2. 7-22-2009

    Now I am thoroughly depressed, though I can’t remember why.

    • 7-22-2009

      Wendy, I was going to reply to your comment. But I can’t recall what I was going to say!

  3. 7-23-2009

    One big benefit of living alone is that no one can see me stride with great purpose into a room and then stand stock still upon arrival, not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing next. Of course the downside is not having anyone around to mention that the eggs have moved beyond hard boiled and into scorched, along with the pan. Wait. Maybe that’s an upside, too.

    Restraint and exercise to combat menopausal weight gain? That can’t be right.

    • 7-23-2009

      The beauty of walking into a room with a purpose and standing their dumbfounded, even when caught, is that it’s easy to find something else to engage one’s attention. Just sayin! 😉

  4. 8-9-2009

    I still blame the kids… who de-rail any train of thought I have.


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