Category Archives: Womens Health

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Saves Lives By Screening For Colorectal Cancer

Although colon cancer is a preventable and even highly curable disease, it remains the second source of cancer deaths in the U.S. according to gastroenterologists Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman and Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl. Why? Not nearly enough people are getting screened, and experts want to get the word out that with screening cancer of the colon, a disease often without symptoms, can be detected early and even prevented from developing at all. Amazingly one in every three American is NOT getting screened for colorectal cancers, even though the screening tests are available everywhere.

Colon cancer is defined by your doctor as a malignant tumor that grows from the inside wall of the colon, also known as the large intestine, the long coiled tube that takes water from food after it’s been digested. Rectal cancer is a cancerous tumor that forms in the rectum, which is the medical term used for the last 6 inches of the large intestine where stool is stored before leaving the body. These two cancers share lots of risk factors, symptoms and the type of screening that’s done to detect them. It’s the treatment plans that are typically different. Colorectal cancer is a term that covers both colon and rectal cancers.

Here are five facts to think about before you put off a colorectal cancer screening…

1. Screening for colorectal cancer can save your life, finding a cancer very early on or spotting polyps before they get a chance to be cancer. Screening should start at 50 for both men and women. In years to come there may be a new test to detect colorectal cancer involving a breath sample, a method just presented in the December 2012 British Journal of Surgery.

2. Have screenings when you are feeling well because early colorectal cancers don’t have symptoms and you feel just fine. Screening before symptoms is the key, by the time you’re having symptoms the cancer is no longer in its early, most treatable stages.

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WARNING: The truth about Moles, Warts and Skintags…

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Saves Lives By Screening For Colorectal Cancer Continued…

3. Know the risks for colorectal cancer and talk with your doctor about getting screened earlier than 50 years if you have reason to do so. Your risk can go up if you have inflammatory bowel disease, a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, a family history of colon cancer or polyps or conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome that can cause colon cancer.

4. Live healthy – stop smoking, get moving and start eating better (avoid red and processed meats, eat lots of fiber) to bring down your risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Exercise especially is linked with lower rates of colon and breast cancers according to research in the May 2012 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

5. This type of cancer doesn’t discriminate; one in every 20 is diagnosed with colorectal cancer sometime in their life. This disease affects both men and women equally.

In this year alone, an estimated 102,480 cases of colon cancer, another 40,340 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed. You can keep yourself from being one of them by making the call to schedule that screening, and making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of disease.

To your good health,

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Main Diseases Link To Gum Problems

You may not realize just how closely the condition of your mouth is linked with your overall state of health according to a good deal of recent research. Turns out, a healthy mouth doesn’t just look great and feel great, it’s good for you too. Not caring for your teeth and gums can open the door to all kinds of health issues.

Here’s what we know.

Type 2 diabetes and gum disease

Type 2 diabetics have a higher incidence of periodontitis (gum disease). The connection was reaffirmed in July 2008 by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. They examined 9,296 subjects who were diabetes free, measuring the amount of periodontal bacteria they had over a 20-year span of time. Those who had higher levels of periodontal disease also had a twofold chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the study, compared to those with no gum disease or low levels of bacteria in their mouths.

There are some interesting theories about why this might be. One suggests that when infections in the mouth get bad enough, they bring low-grade inflammation all through the body, and this causes all kinds of trouble for your sugar processing abilities. It may be that some inflammatory molecules attach to insulin receptors and keep the body’s cells from using the insulin as it should to get glucose inside the cell.

Another theory to explain the link between gum disease and diabetes involves damage to the pancreas. This is an example of a localized infection that’s capable of impacting a systemic organ that is tied to the pathophysiology of diabetes.

Gum infections and preterm birth, low birth weight

Gum infections during pregnancy are just one of many things that are the result of all those fluctuating hormones. Often patients put aside their own oral care during pregnancy… an easy thing to do with all the appointments and pressing things on your mind. This is a mistake. Experts think that inflammation in the mouth may trigger an increase in a compound known as prostaglandin that might induce early labor.

This theory hasn’t been confirmed by research, but a 2001 project found that women who were pregnant and developed gum disease between weeks 21 and 24 were four to seven times more likely to deliver before week 37. That’s impressive evidence. There’s even the suggestion that extremely poor gum health can lead to low birth weight. Two other studies in 2007 of Turkish and Brazilian women supported the ideal of a link between gum problems and both preterm birth, lower birth weight.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

Ever lain awake at night and counted the hours till dawn? Isn’t frustrating to be in bed and be unable to sleep?

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Main Diseases Link To Gum Problems Continued…

Gum disease and the heart

Oral health and heart disease have also been recognized as being connected, the two are very often found together in a patient. Still there’s no research bringing us evidence of a direct causal relationship. One of the difficulties lies in the fact that there are any number of risk factors that can also put you at risk for gum disease and heart problems. In 2005, an NIH funded study of 1,056 randomly selected subjects with no history of heart attacks/stroke who were evaluated for periodontal bacteria levels showed there was an independent relationship between heart disease and gum disease.

Why might this be? Small amounts of bacteria get into your bloodstream as you chew. This gives infectious bacteria a chance to lodge themselves inside a blood vessel, potentially leading to a dangerous blockage. Adding weight to this thinking is that when experts have examined atherosclerotic blood vessels they’ve found fragments of periodontal bacteria.

A study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 also established that aggressive treatment of gum disease cuts the risk of atherosclerosis in just six months. That’s astonishing, and one more reason why taking care of your dental health is so very important.

Gum disease and pneumonia

There’s even been a link established between bad oral health and pneumonia, though the work centers on high-risk populations, like the elderly. A 2008 study of this exact population found that the number of subjects diagnosed with pneumonia was 3.9 times higher in those with periodontal infection than in those who did not have it. The lungs are close to the mouth, and there is a lot of bacteria in there.

Bacteria from a mouth that’s not healthy can get aspirated into the lungs, causing problems with existing COPD or bringing on pneumonia. There are several CDC studies that have found better oral health can lead to a drop in respiratory infections of this kind.

Gum disease and cancer of the pancreas

Based on a 2007 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that surveyed over 50,000 American men about their health, the link between pancreatic cancer and periodontal disease was striking. No matter what their smoking status, having a history of periodontal disease was linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. This could be due to the systemic inflammation, or carcinogenic compounds produced in an infected mouth.

Now you see why it’s so important to take care of your teeth and gums. So make (and keep) that next cleaning appointment and you’ll be glad you did.

Original article:

To your good health,

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10 Never-Ignore Symptoms For Women

Nothing elicits real fear like the word cancer attached to your own name, so it makes sense to be watchful when it comes to symptoms you experience that don’t seem right. There are cases, too many of them, when having all the screenings right on time is simply not enough to catch a cancer. Sometimes it’s simple timing… a scan was done before cancer was present, or at a detectible size. Screenings alone are not enough, vigilance is also call for in the fight to prevent cancer..

Fear is natural, understandable and nothing to feel badly about. Change is not an easy thing to acknowledge, to face, for anyone, and the suspicion of cancer is the worst type of change. BUT, if you don’t respond, or let fear keep you from responding to one of these symptoms, you will do yourself more harm than good. You will give cancer a foothold it never should have had.

Here are the symptoms that warrant taking action now…

1. Breast changes such as a lump, even if you have had a normal mammogram. Also, if your nipple gets scaly or starts flaking this can be a sign of Paget’s disease of the nipple, associated with an underlying cancer in almost 95 of all cases. Any milky or bloody nipple discharge or dimpling of the skin over the breast (with the look of an orange skin) should also be checked.

Tests to expect: breast exam, medical history, mammogram and often a sonogram, biopsy depending on results.

2. Irregular vaginal bleeding after menopause is a warning sign. Bleeding, staining, little drops on your panties or big clots are not normal and need to be checked out by your doctor. For younger women, bleeding that’s unusual for you (between periods, heavier periods) should be investigated right away..

Tests to expect: transvaginal sonogram, biopsy depending on the sonogram results.

3. Rectal bleeding can be a warning sign of colon cancer, the third most common cancer in women, and should not be ignored. You might put this down to hemorrhoids, and while this is a common cause, you need to be sure, this isn’t always the case. Red or dark blood in your stool calls for a visit to the doctor.

Tests to expect: rectal exam, colonoscopy

4. Vaginal discharge that’s smelly can be a first line symptom of cervical cancer. This discharge can have blood in it, and might come between periods or even after menopause. Do not self-treat this discharge, instead go in for an exam to see what’s happening.

Tests to expect: internal exam, swab of fluids, blood tests

5. Bloating is one of the four most frequent symptoms of ovarian cancer, the others being a full feeling that comes when you eat that’s typically earlier than you would normally fill up, a change in bowel or bladder habits as well as low back and/or pelvic pain. Having one or two of these symptoms occasionally isn’t all that strange, but if you have two (or more) symptoms daily for over two weeks, call your doctor. Do not wait, as ovarian cancer is the number one killer of reproductive organ cancers.

Tests to expect: pelvic exam, transvaginal sonogram, blood testing to check for cancerous cells

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10 Never-Ignore Symptoms For Women Continued…

6. Unexplained weight gain/loss (10 pounds or more) if you typically keep yourself at a normal weight and your gaining extra weight month to month this is something to watch. Sometimes this is the first sign of a growing cancer and is often linked to pancreatic, stomach, esophagus or even cancer of the lung. The weight might also be the result of a buildup of fluid in the abdomen related to ovarian cancer, so you need to see your doctor about this.

Tests to expect: thyroid test, sonogram of the abdomen, other blood work

7. Persistent cough, one that lingers for over 2 to 3 weeks and is not tied to an allergy or upper respiratory infection should be investigated at once. Also, if your cough produces any blood, you need to see your doctor to be examined. The majority of lung cancers that happen in nonsmokers also happen in women.

Tests to expect: chest x-ray, CT scan

8. Change in lymph nodes. If the nodes in your neck or under your arms feel hard, you need to see a doctor. Though this can often be caused by an infection, other cancers that have spread can first be seen by an enlarged lymph node.

Tests to expect: physical, biopsy

9. Fatigue is extreme tiredness that will not improve with rest. If you’re often feeling this way, it’s time for a visit to your doctor as leukemia, colon or stomach cancers often bring fatigue as a symptom. A symptoms that’s all too easy to ignore.

Tests to expect: physical exam, blood tests for thyroid function

10. Skin Changes include sores in the mouth that won’t heal; sores or irritated skin in the vaginal area that won’t clear or changes in moles or the pigmented lesions on the vulva itself all can be the first clues to aggressive cancers.

Tests to expect: biopsy

If any of the symptoms listed here are persistent and progressive for a two-week period, it’s time to make a call to your doctor. Now. Today.

To your good health,

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Important Things To Know About Heart Attack

Almost 785,000 Americans will have a first heart attack sometime during 2013. That’s scary. One of the most important things to realize is that the symptoms of a heart attack might not always be what is shown on TV or in movies. What you do in those first vital moments can change the course of the rest of your life.

When a heart attack happens, time is critical and seconds count. Here’s what the experts want you to do.

Don’t wait to get medical attention, the longer your symptoms last, the greater damage is being done to the heart muscle. The start of symptoms is a signal from the body that blood flow to your heart has been blocked. At the hospital they can take steps to quickly restore the blood flow, preventing more damage.

Don’t drive yourself, or let someone drive you, to the hospital. Call 911 for an ambulance as this vehicle has equipment to perform an EKG on the way to the hospital and treat any heart rhythm abnormalities you might have. During a heart attack your heart can stop, and the ambulance has the equipment your car does not to restart the heart, as well as EMTs to perform CPR.

Chew one uncoated aspirin while waiting for the ambulance as this can help slow the formation of blood clots that can be the cause of a heart attack.

Once at the hospital there are many treatment options for heart attack. The most effective is angioplasty, a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure that opens the blocked artery; sometimes clot-destroying medications are given to remove the clot that is blocking the artery. In rare, rather serious cases, emergency coronary artery bypass is performed.

So what symptoms should you watch for? In real life, heart attacks are nothing like the grasping the chest in agony and falling to the ground scenes on TV. Heart attack symptoms are truly quite variable, many patients say they felt more of an ache or discomfort, a dull pain in the chest that might seem like indigestion, but there’s also nausea, shortness or breath or heartburn. Some patients have arm, neck, jaw or even back pain as well as upper stomach discomfort, dizziness, change in heart rhythm and sudden cold sweats.

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Important Things To Know About Heart Attack Continued…

A woman experiences different symptoms when she’s having a heart attack, ones that are sometimes subtle and hard to identify. They may not even feel chest pain, though some women do of course. For a women, sudden weakness/fatigue, body aches or flu like symptoms are often what you see.

The amazing thing is how far we’ve come in treating heart attack; the medical technology available today is doing wonders for people. Most patients can go home, and back to their regular lives, within days of being treated. Still heart attacks are life-changing events and you need to look at your current lifestyle. Can you be eating better? How can you work regular activity into your life going forward? Can you cut your stress levels? And what about quitting smoking?

You’ll be taking medication regularly after your heart attack, and you’ll need to be consistent about follow up with your cardiologist and primary care doctor. The good news is that making these changes will truly increase your odds of never having another heart attack.

To your good health,

Sugary Drinks Raise Womb Cancer Risk

As if there weren’t enough reason already, here’s one more argument for limiting sweetened soda. Sugary soda raises the risk of endometrial cancer according to a new study that appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Those who drank the most sweet soda had a 78% higher risk of the most common form of this type of cancer. The more sweet drinks they drank, the higher the cancer risk. Other sweet things, like bakery goodies, didn’t have the same effect. Natural fruit juice is also off the hook, for though it does have a lot of sugar, it’s natural sugar.

These latest findings support other research that’s found sugar intake, obesity and a lack of activity to be linked with this cancer. Other studies have shown that drinking coffee and regular exercise cut the risk, but this latest study didn’t see this link.

Endometrial cancer has two types (type 1 and type 2), with the first type accounting for 80% of cases. When diagnosed early, usually due to abnormal bleeding the woman can’t miss, there is a good chance of a cure.

The current study examined the records of 23,000 women who were taking part in a larger project on diet, and were also through menopause. Endometrial cancer is more likely in women of this age. The participants regularly completed questionnaires on what they were eating and drinking each day. They were asked specifically about popular sodas like Coke, Pepsi and others, as well as caffeine free varieties of these drinks, 7-Up and other sweetened drinks like this as well as lemonade and Hawaiian Punch.

The subjects were also asked about the sugar free beverages they drank like Fresca, diet ginger ale and other drinks. Cookies, doughnuts, brownies, candy and pies were also covered in the questionnaire. The researchers broke the subject pool into five groups (quintiles is the fancy, research term) based on intake of sweet drinks and foods. There was a group who ate none at one end, as well as a group who ate 60 or more servings each week at the top.

The study participants do share one known pattern. Older subjects who were heavier, had late menopause or had a history of diabetes were at higher risk of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer. While estrogen is one recognized cause of endometrial cancer, women who take hormone replacement therapy are given a type of progesterone, and this is to protect her from this cancer. Fat cells are known to secrete estrogen, and this is why obesity is linked with the disease that’s a fact of life for an estimated 50,000 US women each year, and the cause of death for 8,000 of them.

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Sugary Drinks Raise Womb Cancer Risk Continued…

The reason behind the link between sweetened drinks and endometrial cancer may be as simple as the drinkers of more sweetened beverages also engage in other unhealthy behaviors as well. It’s not clear why the drinks make the difference, but tasty sweets and naturally sweet drinks don’t. Maybe natural sugars come packaged with other nutrients that blunt the effect.

It makes sense, drinking more beverages full of sugar is closely tied to the increases in obesity over the years. An obese woman has higher levels of estrogen and insulin than do women at a normal weight. Insulin is known to affect other hormones, including estrogen. Higher levels of insulin and estrogens are known risks for endometrial cancer according to researchers on the project.

More work in the area will need to be done before experts understand all the nuances. However, obesity is still by far the most important risk in terms of endometrial cancer, and this is something you can change. Women who eat more high calorie foods just have a higher risk.

Think about that before you choose another sweet drink.

To your good health,

Cut Risk Of Breast Cancer With A Daily Walk

Getting active continues to prove itself as a very valuable thing indeed. Now new research appearing in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention finds that older women who do a regular daily walk cut their risk of breast cancer, the leading cancer among females. The study also found that women who exercised vigorously for that hour a day got even better protection from this dangerous, disfiguring disease. Both good reasons to start a fitness program.

Statistics show that in the U.S. about one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her lifetime.

The current research on breast cancer and exercise included over 73,000 postmenopausal women who were taking part in an American Cancer Society study on the incidence of cancer. When the project started in 1992, the average age of the subjects was almost 63 years old. Participants filled out a questionnaire covering medical, environmental and demographic factors at the start of the research, then again every two years from 1997 until 2009. They also reported their physical activity and time spent sitting that included watching TV and reading as well as any diagnoses of cancer of the breast.

During the 14 years of research 4,760 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

The researchers then compared the exercise habits of those who’d been diagnosed with disease. Almost 9% never took part in physical activity, while nearly half said walking was their only exercise. The team saw that walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day was linked with a 14% lower rate of cancer of the breast, when compared to subjects leading a sedentary lifestyle.

If the women spent that hour or more doing more strenuous physical activity, the benefit was a 25% lower risk of breast cancer. Those who walked 7 hours (or more) a week, even if they did no other activity, got protective benefits compared to those who walked under three hours a week.

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Cut Risk Of Breast Cancer With A Daily Walk Continued…

The walkers in the study reported doing almost 3 miles an hour, or about the equal of a 20 minute mile. The more vigorous activities done by the women in the study include fast walking (a pace of 4.5 miles an hour), moderate cycling or swimming laps.

It’s also important to understand that the study only saw an association between moderate workouts and lower risk of cancer of the breast, there was no direct cause and effect relationship. Other studies have shown that exercise brought down the risk of breast cancer more for those who had a lower BMI. This study found the effect of exercise on cancer held no matter what your BMI was.

Other work has also shown a link between time spent sitting and risk of breast cancer, but the latest research didn’t see this link. The take home message is that you don’t have to go out and train like you’re running a marathon. Just an hour each day of moderately intense activity can bring a measurable benefit in terms of breast cancer risk. This is a goal that’s easily reached for almost all women.

To your good health,

Marriage Might Help Cancer Survival

Here’s an important find on surviving cancer. Research out of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that being married might significantly improve your chances of surviving the most dreaded of all diagnoses, cancer. For singles who may be reading, don’t despair, there is good news for you on this front as well.

The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and included over 700,000 healthy people who had been diagnosed with one of the ten most commonly fatal forms of cancers in the U.S. In case you’re wondering, as we were, what those cancers are, we’ll list them here – lung, colorectal, breast, pancreatic, prostate, liver/bile duct, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, head and neck, ovarian and esophageal. The team controlled for variables that might affect cancer occurrence and survival, things like socioeconomic status, age, race, sex and level of education.

They saw that those who were married were more apt to find their disease early, get treatments that offer the potential for a complete cure, and thus live longer. In fact, the team saw a 20% reduction in deaths for those who were married compared to the single (by choice, widowed, separated or divorced) patient.

That’s a benefit that’s better than several of the chemotherapies used to treat cancer!

The study senior author, Dr. Paul Nguyen finds this pretty astonishing, and believes that there’s something about the type of support you get in a good marriage that leads to better survival. And while the link between marriage and cancer survival was strong, it was not a direct cause of better survival among the patients.

Why do marrieds do better? It’s likely that spouses stay up to date on their partner’s health, especially in terms of making sure they get the recommended cancer screenings at the right ages. There’s no one to nag a single person in quite the same way as a spouse can. We know that getting those screenings is key, they find cancers in their earliest, most treatable stage.

For the singles, 17% were more likely to have a cancer that had moved beyond its original site, known as metastatic cancer. This makes treatment tougher and survival less assured. The unmarried patients in the research were also 53% less likely to get appropriate therapies, in part because the information given to cancer patients can be overwhelming. Having someone who can hear (and remember) all the facts, figures and options and help you make judgments and decisions that are best for you appears to be rather valuable in terms of surviving cancer.
.

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Marriage Help Cancer Survival Continued…

The benefit of having a spouse at your side continues during cancer treatment the researchers found. These treatments can often be uncomfortable, painful even, and tough to handle day in, day out. A spouse offers help, support and encouragement in these tough times; helping the patient go on, get through.

The findings of this most recent study support those from 2005 that found older married women with breast cancer had a lower mortality risk than their unmarried counterparts.

The good news for single people is that anyone close to you… best friend, parent or sibling or another loved one can fill this role. This may be especially true for a man who has cancer, as they seem to benefit more from marriage than women do.

To your good health,

Breast Cancer Risk Prevented By Peanut Butter

At last… creamy, delicious peanut butter gets its due. New research appearing online in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment has found that eating peanuts butter on a regular basis as a pre teen or teen cuts the risk of a girl developing benign breast disease as an adult. Benign breast disease is a term used for noncancerous changes in the tissue of the breast. It’s fairly common (one in 4 women have a benign lesion, confirmed by biopsy), and a well recognized risk factor for breast cancer.

In fact, experts agree there is a clear, strong link between benign lesions and the later risk of invasive breast cancer. While it is true that 80% of all breast lumps are benign (moveable, smooth), controlling the benign form of disease holds potential, though it this certainly not the only thing that can impact breast cancer risk. Of course lowering any risk factor is a good thing and saves lives.

The latest research on diet and disease of the breast followed over 9,000 females starting when the girls were from 9 to 15 years old until the year 2010 when they had all reached young adulthood. By eating peanut butter three days of each week, some women cut the risk of benign breast disease by 39% according to senior study author Dr. Graham Colditz who is the associate director for cancer prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center located at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The participants in the study were taking part in a long-term ongoing project on the health affects of diet and exercise on the young. They completed questionnaires about what they ate each year from 1996 until 2001, then another 4 times until 2010. They also supplied details on any diagnosis of benign breast disease. In total, 112 of the subjects were diagnosed with this condition.

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Breast Cancer Risk Prevented By Peanut Butter Continued…

The team studied foods that had vegetable protein and vegetable fats, and then started to focus more closely on individual foods that included peanuts or other nuts, peanut butter, beans and corn. A single serving a day of any of these foods was associated with a 68% reduced risk of benign breast disease. Three servings a week brought a 39% lower risk of this potentially dangerous condition.

Keep in mind that while the research saw a link between peanut butter and this disease of the breast, there is no cause and effect relationship demonstrated here. More work will need to be done before anyone’s serving up peanut butter to young girls as a way to safeguard them from future breast cancer risk.

It’s hard to explain why peanut butter is linked to the lower risk. It could be the protein. In earlier work these researchers have examined other parts of a healthy diet, like consumption of milk and the potential role in future breast health. The impact of peanut butter is strong, even in a healthy diet according to Colditz, who insists the take home is that teens and preteens should try to eat more peanuts and peanut butter and fewer less healthy snacks like chips and cookies. Good advice for those of every age.

To your good health,

The Impact Of Estrogen On Waistline

Aging is not for sissies. As the years pass, many men come into the complaints of mid life… the beer belly, the lack of strength when working out and a lower libido than in years past. The culprit, experts once believed, was testosterone, because men naturally start to make less of it as the years pass. A deficiency of this male sex hormone was thought to be the sole reason that a man might start feeling the typical midlife complaints. But another surprising fact has come out, one that doctors think might encourage more study of how men’s bodies age.

It seems that estrogen, the female sex hormone, plays a much bigger role in a man’s body than anyone thought. Falling levels are part of the reason for the expanding waistline, just the same as in a woman. The idea that estrogen has a role for men is a major advance according to Dr. Peter J. Snyder who is a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Snyder is leading a large research project on hormone therapy for men over 65 years old to try and find out which hormone does what in a man, and how body functions are impacted at different levels of hormone.

Until now, experts have focused almost exclusively on how estrogen affects women and how testosterone affects men. Estrogen is made from testosterone in both men and women, with men making so much that they end up with almost two times the amount as postmenopausal women. As the levels of both hormones naturally go down with age, the body naturally changes.

A recent study appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine provided the most conclusive evidence to date that estrogen is a big part of male midlife problems. Some male problems blamed on testosterone deficiency now appear to be almost exclusively caused by the drop in estrogen. It suggests that different side effects kick in at different levels of deficiency in testosterone. Testosterone is the chief regulator of muscle tone and lean body mass, but it doesn’t take as much of this hormone as we thought to maintain muscles. For a young man 550 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood serum is the level considered average, a reading of under 300 nanograms is thought to be so low that treatment with testosterone gels is needed. But this level is arbitrary, without a clinical rationale.

Continues below…


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The Impact Of Estrogen On Waistline Continued…

Muscle strength and size are unaffected until testosterone levels get under 500 nanograms. The accumulation of fat happens at the levels at the higher end of the deficit spectrum, 300-350 nanograms. In terms of sexual desire and performance, both call for estrogen and testosterone and these hormones improve things in this area as they go up. It’s too early to make specific recommendations, and no one is suggesting men take estrogen as high doses cause feminine features to appear.

The hope is that treatment with testosterone might help men walk more quickly, feel more vigorous, have better function sexually, help mentally and strengthen his bones.

To understand what’s behind the changes in a middle-aged man in your life, talk frankly with his doctor. If he is having sexual problems, taking testosterone may bring a benefit. But if he’s complaining of flagging muscle strength or other midlife symptoms, something else might be involved.

To your good health,

Overweight Women Can Get Better Memory

You’ve heard that being obese (or overweight) is bad for your body, but now we’re finding that it’s bad for your brain as well. Yet another reason to try and lose weight. A study presented at The Endocrine Society’s 2013 annual meeting has found that memory does get better in overweight, older women after they diet to lost weight. Brain activity literally changes in the areas of the brain that are known to be important for remembering. That’s good news – obesity related impairments to memory are reversible.

Earlier work has found that obese individuals do have impaired episodic memory, and the current researchers began their own project to see if weight loss would improve memory, and if that improved memory correlated with changes in brain activity of the right type. A functional MRI was used at the start and end of the study period to look at brain activity while the participants completed a memory test that involved matching faces with names.

The current team randomly assigned 20 overweight, postmenopausal women (61 years old, on average) to one of two weight loss programs that they would follow for six months. Nine subjects used the Caveman diet of 30% protein, 30% carbs and 40% unsaturated fats. The other eleven subjects followed the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations of 15% protein, 55% carbs and 30% fats. Researchers also measured the BMI and body fat composition of the subjects, and tested episodic memory, what’s known as encoding.

At the end of the six-month study, the women’s average BMI had dropped from 32.1 to 29.2, their weight dropped from 188.9 pounds to 171.3 pounds. It’s the results on the memory test that are truly amazing. Memory performance improved after the weight loss, and the brain activity pattern actually increased during memory encoding in the parts of the brain that are key for identification and matching. What’s more, brain action decreased in the parts of the brain associated with retrieving episodic memories, indicating more efficient retrieval.

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Overweight Women Can Get Better Memory Continued…

The change in brain activity suggests that the brain is more active while storing
new memories, needing fewer resources to collect stored details.

Also important, when you lose weight there is less of a chance you will have health conditions that are known to impact memory – things like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea.

If you’re obese and struggling to lose weight, know that you’re not alone. There are many people facing the same battle. The key is to work with a team of healthcare pros – a nutritionist, dietitian, counselor or an obesity specialist to help you make the changes you must in your eating and activity levels. Making simple changes like these can have you feeling a difference very quickly. Remember, your first goal is a modest loss – 5 to 10% of your total body weight.

All weight loss programs out there call for changes in your eating habits and activity levels. What’s right for you depends on just how obese you are, how healthy you are and how willing you are to participate. Diet changes will involve cutting calories and making healthier food choices, avoid diets that call for drastic changes or eliminating whole food groups.

To your good health,