Posts Tagged "cognition"

Spray that forgetfulness away

Posted by on Oct 12, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


Australian researchers are suggesting that a daily testosterone skin spray can boost brain function and memory in menopausal women. If that’s all it takes, heck, sign me up. Thing is, do you grow more hair in unexpected places as well?!

The study, which was presented last month at the North American Menopause Society annual meeting, examined the effectiveness of a daily spray in 10 menopausal women, ages 45 to 60, for 6 months. All women participated in computerized testing for visual and verbal learning and memory before and after treatment and also had MRI scans to examine brain activity.

Visual learning, the ability to recall items after seeing them (i.e. verbal learning) and memory significantly improved after treatment. More importantly though, Interestingly, while the speed at which women performed cognitive tests were the same after as before treatment, MRI scans revealed that less brain activity was required to complete the tasks.

The researchers say that women in menopause experience dementia and memory loss at rates that are twice those of men of the same ages. They believe that this may be due, at least in part, to lower levels of testosterone, both in relation to men and in women about half their age. If you believe the results of this study, it’s possible that testosterone treatment may eventually prove effective in preventing declines in brain function that occur with age.

Importantly, delivery of testosterone via a spray as opposed to a skin patch may also account for fewer side effects. However, because this study was only conducted in a small number of women, no conclusions can be drawn at this time.

Sometimes I think it’s better to lose half my brain than to grow hair in unwanted places or set myself up for unwanted side effects. But then again, other times I forget that I feel this way!

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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…!

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Wednesday bubble: flava flavonoid

Posted by on Jun 24, 2009 in diet | 5 comments

With the acai berry craze hitting its peak, I thought it was high time to devote a post to flavonoids (compounds found in plants, fruits and beverages that have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) — namely, those found in berries.

Yes, berries, This sounded a bit preposterous until I dug a bit deeper and located a current review in Maturitas, suggesting that berry flavonoids might be important for long-term health in menopausal women. However, researchers still can’t define the most important details, for example:

  • berry type
  • preparation
  • regimen

The amount of berry flavonoid that becomes available and used by the body after eating also varies by individual make up and by the different types of flavonoids.

All of these factors are critical to designing a strategy that will yield the maximum health benefit. Nevertheless, evidence from clinical studies suggests the following:

  • Cancer prevention. Note that this has been controversial since increased consumption of dietary fruits and vegetables and not just berries, have been shown to impact certain cancers such as esophogeal cancer. In the small studies that the researchers cite, cranberry juice and freeze dried black raspberry have been shown to control signaling that promotes the proliferation of cancer cells.
  • Age-related declines in motor skills, learning and memory impairment, specifically, those linked to a decline in the body’s ability to fight circulating free oxygen radicals that can damage cells. Evidence for these benefits are primarily derived from animal and not human studies, and concentrate on strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.

The researchers caution that it’s impossible to define how much of a single berry or combination of berries might help in disease prevention. Hence, it’s too early to make any definitive claims about berry consumption. However, they do emphasize that to date, research supports the importance of berries as part of a healthy, balanced diet for menopausal women.

Personally, I love berries and health benefits or not, I plan to eat as much of them as I can get my hands on this summer.

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