Posts made in April, 2011

Estrogen: Worth the risk?

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 in breast cancer, estrogen, heart disease, osteoporosis | 9 comments

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I am not a fan of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) nor the health risks associated with it. Nevertheless, although I espouse alternative strategies for dealing with menopause, I do feel that sharing news about HRT is important; accurate information leads to informed and shared decisionmaking.

So, do they (i.e. hormones) or don’t they (cause harm)? Undoubtedly, important variables come into play, including current age, how close to menopause hormones are started, current health status, whether or not a woman has had a hysterectomy, smoking history, etc. Also important is whether estrogen is used alone or in combination with progesterone. And yet despite these factors, many medical organizations continue to recommend that HRT be used for the shortest time period possible if at all.

Still, researchers continue to delve into data from the now infamous Women’s Health Initiative Study to tease out the bad, ugly and even the good.

This week,  they are reporting on over 7,600 women who had taken estrogen alone for approximately 6 years, had had prior hysterectomies and were followed for an average of 10 years after the trial ended. If you recall, there has been some controversy as to whether or not estrogen alone is safer than combined HRT and actually lowers the risk for breast cancer in particular, which is why these data are particularly intriguing.

The researchers report that age at the time that hormone therapy (in this case, estrogen alone) is started is important. In fact, women who started estrogen therapy in their 50s, an increased risk for stroke and embolism, which appeared while taking estrogen, actually disappeared in the years that followed. Unfortunately, so did protection against hip fracture. Moreover, earlier reports of a decline in breast cancer risk were upheld despite body mass indices. However, the researchers say that this finding in particular, runs contrary to the preponderance of evidence from the majority of observational studies which show that estrogen use increases the risk of breast cancer, especially in lean women and after a long time period of use.

In an accompanying editorial, also in JAMA, the authors point out that more than 80% of women who took estrogen as directed only used it for an average of 3.5 years. Their point is that the results don’t directly address the “balance of risk and benefits associated with longer term estrogen use.” They also point to a larger review of data that show duration is an important factor when it comes to breast cancer risk, especially among lean women. Additionally, they say that tamoxifen, which actually antagonizes estrogen, has been shown to reduce breast cancer by 50%, which has led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to “conclude that unopposed estrogen therapy and combination HRT are carcinogenic.”

Are you confused yet?

Both set of researchers say that the decision to use estrogen or not is one that should be made between a woman and her doctor. Don’t forget: study findings continue to contradict. They add that while “there may still be a role for short-term use of unopposed estrogen for treating some women with menopausal symptoms, this role may be vanishing as existing and emerging data continue to be better understood in terms” of patients.

My thoughts? Err on the side of caution. Always.

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Monday Bubble:, chill your sleep

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in nightsweats | 0 comments

Monday Bubble? Say what?! Yeah, I’m shaking up the week a bit with a Wednesday Bubble on a Monday. Hey, why not?!

Got sleep issues? Nightsweats getting you all hot bothered (and not in a good way)? There’s yet another solution!

First there were cleavage coolers. Then the Bedfan and Chilipads. Then the Chillow. And now….

Cool Gelmats.

Yup, Cool Gelmats…the “wonderfully cool sensation that’s enough to take your breath away as you feel yourself drawn into a cool, comfortable land of slumber.” Theoretically, the gel acts to absorb heat and then disperse it to help you stay cool. And it keeps its cool without refrigeration (definitely a benefit because you might need an extra fridge to store the gel mat). Heck, you can even fold it and take it camping or on trips (w0nder if it would make it through the TSA?).

More amusing? It’s the ‘perfect partner’ to get you through the hottest of summers (and I guess, sweats).

I’m all for cooling. I’m all against night sweats. But how many coolers does one need in one’s life? Personally, I’ll stick to the devil I know. Nightsweats are a bitch. But there are ways to shut them down without resorting to pads and rubber chickens for the menopausal set.

Brrrrrr. Chill this one no.

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Friends and Family

Posted by on Apr 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

Friends and family.

I’ve learned a few things during my (almost) 50 years here on this particular journey and especially during the past two months. And I want to be self-indulgent, a rare thing on Flashfree, and share a few thoughts with you on April Fool’s Day. Yet, this ain’t no April Fool’s.

  • When people you love need you, you don’t ask why; you ask when.
  • No matter what, when or how, your true friends are there for you. You may not hear from them for months or sometimes years, but all of a sudden, they pop up out of nowhere and say hello or ‘just thinking of you,’ or ‘what can I do?’
  • Friendship and giving are not burdens. Receiving is a burden. And if you’ve not yet learned how to receive , you’ve got some work to do that will truly benefit you in ways you’ve never considered.
  • Our time and our hearts are the best gifts we have to offer as humans. It doesn’t matter how [fill in the blank] you are; your time and your thoughts are what count most.

Over the past six weeks, I’ve traveled South, West and North. I’ve given what I am able to, which is love, true love. No matter what, no matter the depletion, this is what makes my life worth living. I like to give to people. Period. No subtext. No hidden agenda. It’s simply the least I can do for people who I believe would do the same for me if the tables were turned.

Being human and being kind. It’s truly that simple.

Friends and family? Without you, I’m not me.

No fooling.

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