Posts made in July, 2009

Three’s a charm…breast cancer, lung cancer deaths and ovarian cancer

Posted by on Jul 17, 2009 in HRT, ovarian cancer | 0 comments

More news on the hormone therapy horizon. Not only has HRT  been shown to increase breast cancer risk and death from lung cancer, but now researchers are reporting that it also increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Wow – three’s a charm, eh? And yet, many in the medical community continues to support its use in perimenopausal and menopausal women.

In this latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers evaluate data from 909,946 Danish women between the ages of 50 and 79 who had not previously developed hormone sensitive cancer or had had hysterectomies.

Compared to women who never took hormones, current hormonal therapy users had 1.38 greater incidence of all types of ovarian cancers and and 1.44 greater incidence of cancer affecting the surface of the ovaries (i.e. epithelial ovarian cancers) regardless of type of hormone therapy, administration or duration of use. Notably, risk declined with years since stopping hormone therapy.

Ovarian cancer accounts for about 4% of all cancers in women in the US. Yet, it is one of the most lethal types and often symptomless in the early stages. Roughly half of the women it affects die within five years. In this study, hormone therapy increased the risk for developing ovarian cancer by 38%.

Like any, this study had limitations that might have affected the results, such as not adjusting for age during menopause, or use of birth control pills (which have been shown to reduce ovarian cancer risk). Still, it is one of the largest studies to date examining this issue and the results do not fare well for use of hormones during menopause.

If I seem a bit angry about this; I am. Repeatedly, data show that hormone replacement, albeit an effective solution for declining hormones and their effects, is dangerous. I wonder how many women need to get sick or die before someone takes notice and removes hormones from the market.

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Wednesday Bubble: close to the bone

Posted by on Jul 15, 2009 in bone health | 0 comments

Let’s be honest; bone loss is a natural part of aging.

As I’ve written previously, women are at particularly high risk for bone loss as they age because of declining estrogen levels, and in turn, a reduced ability to prevent an increase in net bone resorption (or bone loss due to the activity of bone cells). Although isoflavones (plant derived compounds with estrogen-like properties) have been reported to protect bone from deficiencies in estrogen, there have been little data that show that they can specifically influence resorption.

Hence, I was interested in a small study published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism examining of four different types of isoflavone supplements on bone resorption. In it, researchers compared supplements containing the isoflavones soy cotyledon (derived from the leaf coating around the seed of the soybean), soy germ (the embryo of the soybean), kudzu and red clover to 1 mg estradiol plus 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone or 5 mg/day of the anti-osteoporosis agent Actonel®.

Study findings showed that the hormones plus progesterone or Actonel significantly decreased net bone resorption by as much as 22% and 24%, respectively. In comparison, only soy isoflavones derived from the cotyledon and germ had a significantly modest effect on reducing bone resorption (by 9% and 5%, respectively), while kudzu and red clover did not.

Clearly, this study, while small, shows that isoflavones can help to prevent bone loss during menopause. However, not all isoflavones are created equal, and source appears to as important as insuring that the product is standardized and manufactured in a licensed facility. What’s also notable about this study is that the researchers did not examine whether or not ingesting the specific isoflavones via food sources would have an equally beneficial effect.

Because it can be difficult to discern which products contain which types of isoflavones and the amounts, it’s best to speak to a nutritionist or a naturopath before supplementing your diet. No bones about it though; the results are promising enough to warrant further study.

What steps are you taking to prevent bone loss as you age? And if you use soy, in what forms are you taking it?

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Menopausal magnetism

Posted by on Jul 13, 2009 in humour | 3 comments


Think you’ve got magnetism? You ain’t got nothing until you get LadyCare.

Normally, I’d reserve this piece for a Wednesday Bubble but it’s just too good to pass up for the beginning of the week post.

What is LadyCare you ask? LadyCare is a “small, discreet comfortable device….that attaches to women’s underwear.” Using patented technology, LadyCare relies on a magnetic field to stimulate blood flow, which then improves the “body’s ability to self heal and restore natural hormone balance.” What’s more, LadyCare “may prove to be one of the greatest natural solutions for alleviating menopausal symptoms.”

In addition to its  positive effect on hot flashes and night sweats, LadyCare promises to:

  • Promote weight loss
  • Improve skin tone
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve the ability to control emotions
  • Increase confidence
  • Improve sex life

Evidently, wearing the LadyCare device has also been shown to improve blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Proponents of magnetic therapy (or bioenergy therapy) believe that magnets can penetrate the boy and correct disturbances in electromagnetic impulses that cause disease. In terms of menopause, the manufacturers of LadyCare claim that the magnetic field created by LadyCare helps to stimulate estrogen production.

Seriously, I am speechless.

I think I’d rather spend the $49.95 on a pedicure and a bottle of wine. Does wonders for that menopausal disposition….

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Men. Oh. Pause. Rewind.

Posted by on Jul 10, 2009 in humour, Inspiration | 6 comments

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Amy Ferris.

Amy writes about all things women. She is an author (a greater goode, Houghton Mifflin Publishers; The Buddha Next Door, Anthology, Middleway Press), a screenwriter (Mr. Wonderful, Anthony Minghella, Director, and Funny Valentines, Julie Dash, Director) and  an editor. Following is an excerpt from her new book, ‘Marrying George Clooney – Confessions from a Midlife Crisis‘ (Seal Press) which is available by pre-order from

Show Amy some love!


Imagine this scenario if you will: you’re in the Holland or Lincoln Tunnel, all of a sudden, without a warning, all the lights go out, including all the headlights on all the cars. You’re stuck. There’s no going forward; there’s no going backwards. Complete and utter darkness. And you know in your soul that others are going through the exact same thing – but no one, not one person gets out of their car.

Welcome to menopause.

I have been depressed, anxious, forgetful, lost in a fog, angry, and resentful, with an emphasis on ‘angry’. I have been filled with tremendous hope, and in the next unexpected moment, filled with the exact amount of despair. I have cried uncontrollably from my gut, and I have laughed from the depths of my soul. I have felt like throwing my life away, as in literally jumping off a bridge. I have witnessed my body grow one full size while sleeping so undly.

In the midst of this fresh hell, I decided to quit smoking. I’m not sure if it was an act of courage or just simply self-destructive behavior. Much to my husband’s grand delight, not to mention my friends and family, I decided to divorce the one constant that kept me from experiencing my feelings fully – a cigarette.

So, not only were my hormones doing a ferocious dance – now my suppressed, discarded feelings were vying for attention.

This is the point in the story I get to introduce my husband. Please raise your hand if any of you have turned into the devil doll on a dime. You know what I’m talking about – that moment when your husband (or wife, or partner) says or does something trivial, innocuous, a casual throw-a-way and without a moments hesitation you respond by burning a hole in their heart with your tongue. And it’s all down hill from there. The only word that comes to mind to describe my behavior is vile. The only word to describe my husband’s reaction is stunned.

Along with weight gain and mental anguish, insomnia is yet another ‘side dish’ accompanying menopause. So, late one night while unable to sleep and tossing a coin – heads, Ambien, tails, Ambien – it occurred to me that it was time for me to put into practice what I deeply believe. To a) truly embrace and love every single part of me. Not just the good and kind and generous, but the bad and unattractive and mentally unstable. And b) find the enlightened side — it was my obligation and responsibility to acknowledge and hold dear the privilege of my very own life.

Every single woman I know, without exception, has or will experience some deep inner turmoil or upheaval because of menopause. It is a part of being a woman. Period. I have known women of great equilibrium to wobble horrifically because they were in the process of dealing with this huge change of life. The good news: most women credit this hell as the single most profound experience, which has enabled them to uncover their own greatness. I can definitely embrace that.

And here’s the enlightened side: Menopause is just like couture fashion. Some of it is just really ugly.

Welcome to my world.

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Wednesday bubble: sexuality during menopause – blurring the lines

Posted by on Jul 8, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 comments


This week’s Bubble comes to us care of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and a fascinating study in the journal Latino American Nursing Reviews. The report attempts to address the limitations imposed by solely examining physical aspects of sexuality during the menopause as opposed to the intimate and relational dimensions.  In others words, signs and symptoms of the climacteric (the period marking the transition from reproductive to non-reproductive status) that specifically relate to sexuality, such as vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, are less important than the sum of their parts.

In this study, which involved interviews with postmenopausal women between the ages of 48 and 55, the researchers confirm that sexuality involves more than biology and rather, encompasses a woman’s subjective experience with her partner, her world, her perceptions of her body, how she experiences pleasure and displeasure and her values and behavior. In fact, sexuality does not “end with hormonal deficiency” bur rather changes over time.

They ask: are we overvaluing the biological aspects of sexuality at the expense of the emotional expression of experience, cultural factors and how we relate to others?

Key findings:

  • It is critical to be present, open up to another being, allow oneself to be “permeated by co-existence” with our partners/lovers
  • We need to connect with our bodies, remove barriers to experiencing physical pleasure — both alone and in relation to another being
  • We need to be aware that we are affected by our sexual partners and their limitations, physical conditions, virility, etc
  • We must embrace the ‘feedback of pleasure,’ i.e. be willing and able to not only give pleasure but to receive it as well
  • Sexual satisfaction does not end (or begin) with orgasm

I have written previously on sex and sexual desire, often presenting the argument that the sum is greater than its parts, that it is time to understand and embrace the totality of the experience.

I admire these researchers for reaching outside the box and broadening the discussion about sexuality during menopause and midlife. Personally, I believe that within this new paradigm, we may finally be able to blur the lines between the biological, cultural, emotional and sociological to fully embrace that notion that menopause, and its accompanying issues, are not a “disease” to be reckoned with but rather, part of our “natural evolution” as women.

What do you think?

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