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Blog: MenoPause ~ take time to think about it

  • Women reap big benefits from healthy lifestyle changes

    by Margery Gass | Jun 12, 2014

    Diet and exercise can keep prediabetes from turning into diabetes, but it also does much more for women. It also prevents heart disease and reduces deaths. These were findings of a very long (23 years!) study in Da Qing, China, of people who had prediabetes. A group of them went through a 6-year program of diet and exercise. For those who were overweight or obese, the diet was designed for weight loss, and those who were normal weight just reduced their simple carb and alcohol consumption. In the group that went through the program, only 73% had diabetes develop compared with 90% of those who just had standard medical care. The rates of diabetic eye disease were also significantly lower in those who participated in the intensive lifestyle change program. In addition, the number of deaths from heart disease and deaths overall were also lower—for women. After menopause, women with prediabetes are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes, but this study shows that women can stave it off and reap huge benefits as a result. Not only will they stave off diabetes but also heart disease, eye disease, and other killers. Women around the world can take advantage of this good news!

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  • Check your mood swing

    by Margery Gass | Jun 04, 2014

    It may not be menopause that’s making you bark at your spouse. You may be getting angry just because you’re hungry. Researchers at Ohio State University measured couples’ blood sugar in the morning and at night and found low nighttime levels predicted who would lash out at a spouse that evening. Measuring just how angry took a creative approach. All the participants got a voodoo doll representing their spouse and 51 pins and were told to stick in pins each night in a way that showed their level of anger. The researchers found that the number of pins tracked with the blood sugar levels. In addition, with low blood sugar, the participants were also more likely to blast their spouse with loud sounds when they beat them at a competitive game. Eating something sweet can raise blood sugar quickly, so a little desert after dinner may not be a bad thing. But if that shot of sugar calms you down, avoid the blood sugar highs and lows by eating small, healthy snacks through the day, and keep fruit on hand, which can raise your blood sugar and give you some healthy fiber as well.

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  • Long or heavy periods not uncommon in your 40s, but…

    by Margery Gass | Apr 16, 2014

    If you’re heading toward menopause and you have more bleeding than usual, you are not alone. Women often worry when that happens because they have heard that menstrual periods become less frequent and lighter during perimenopause. Some periods do, some don’t. The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), that included 1,200 women ages 42 to 52, found that over the course of three years, 91% of the women had as many as three periods that lasted 10 days or more, and 78% had three or more days of heavy flow. This news can be reassuring, but it doesn’t mean you should keep quiet about noticeable bleeding changes, especially if you are overweight.  Overweight women have a higher risk of uterine cancer (called endometrial cancer), and frequent or heavy bleeding can be a sign of cancer for any woman. Note also that the study said 3 long periods occurring over 3 years. If a woman is experiencing heavier and/or longer periods every month or bleeding frequently throughout the month, that should also be reported to your healthcare provider sooner rather than later.

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  • Oh nuts! All about this healthy food group

    by Margery Gass | Apr 10, 2014

    A handful of nuts is a convenient snack -- here’s how to make the best of it by choosing the best types of nuts and the healthiest ways to eat them!

    Just the Facts
    Most varieties of nuts are high in unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and L-arginine. They’re also high in fat and calories (lowest in calories are almonds, cashews, pistachios, while highest in calories are macademia nuts and pecans). Almonds are the nuts highest in calcium.

    For Heart Health
    Studies including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30% to 50% lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, and cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times per week. 

    The best nuts for your heart are walnuts. They contain high amounts of alpha linoleic acid, which has been found to be as effective as olive oil in reducing inflammation and oxidation after a fatty meal, per a 2006 Spanish study. Eating nuts has also been shown to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level in the blood and improve the health of the lining of your arteries.

    Snacking Ideas
    Eat them raw or dry, not packaged or roasted in oil (nutrients can be destroyed by high roasting temperatures and oil used may be the unhealthy hydrogenated variety or high in omega-6 unhealthy fats.

    Because of their high calorie content, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats such as those in meats, eggs, and dairy. A serving is a small handful or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. And remember, you’ll cancel out the benefit of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar, or salt. Try snacking on them instead of chips -- or throw them on a salad for a little crunchiness.

    The Peanut Addendum
    Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts. But they are healthy in their own right -- high in folate, which is essential for brain development and may protect against cognitive decline.

     

    So don’t forget to make this healthy food group part of your diet. That’d be nuts.

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  • Good news for women who hate mammograms

    by Margery Gass | Feb 16, 2014

    Strong evidence suggests women may not need mammograms if they receive a thorough clinical breast examination every year. A large and long study in The British Medical Journal published Tuesday is one of the few randomized, controlled evaluations of mammography in recent history. It examined Canadian women assigned to have regular mammograms plus breast exams or to have breast exams alone. Researchers found that death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in both groups. It is definitely time to re-evaluate guidelines by looking at the screening issue from all angles. The more information the better.


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  • Let’s stop sitting and start moving

    by Margery Gass | Jan 31, 2014

    Women who spend less time sitting live a longer, healthier life. And it seems to make an especially big difference for non-Hispanic women of color. This message comes from a new study based on 92,234 women followed for 12 years in the Women’s Health Initiative. Women who sat the least—4 hours a day or less—were about 20% less likely to die for any reason, 38% less likely to die of heart disease, and 42% less likely to die of cancer than women who sat the most—11 hours a day or more. The difference for black women was much bigger, with the most active 37% less likely to die of any cause, and the difference for Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders was even bigger—45% less likely. In terms of cancer, greater activity made a bigger difference for women under 70, who were one-third less likely to die of cancer than the very inactive women.

    So, the numbers all add up—moving every day as much as you can is critical, probably more so than a fitness routine after a long day sitting at your desk. And if you have a desk job? Stick to your fitness routine, but take frequent little breaks just to get up and move around the office.

     

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  • Another apple a day could keep the statins away

    by Margery Gass | Jan 15, 2014

    If everyone ate an extra apple a day, we might save as many lives as statin drugs save for everyone over age 50, say British researchers. No, it doesn’t mean that if you take a statin you should toss out your pills and eat more apples instead. But it does show that even simple changes in diet could do wonders before you have to use costly drugs. The researchers at Oxford University used a mathematical model to show that this simple step toward getting your recommended five fruits and vegetables a day could prevent or delay some 8,500 heart attacks and strokes every year in Britain.

    At a time when achieving new heart disease guidelines might mean having nearly a third of all adults take statins, it’s good to remember we could do as much by changing our diets—and by remembering your mother was right when she said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Thanks, Mom.

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  • HPV and menopause: what women of the sexual revolution need to know

    by Margery Gass | Jan 02, 2014

    This week we wrote about what women of the sexual revolution should know about menopause and HPV reactivation for More.com. Here's an excerpt:

     "HPV peaks in young women around age of sexual debut and declines in the late 20s and 30s. But women’s risk for HPV is not over yet: There is sometimes a second peak around the age of menopause. Why?

    A study released early in 2013 of women 35 to 60 years old found that HPV in women at or after menopause may represent an infection acquired years ago. Think of it like chickenpox—that virus can lie dormant in the bodies of people who were infected as children, then come raging back as shingles later in life when the immune system weakens. It’s the same with HPV. The reactivation risk may increase around age 50." 

    Read the entire article here.
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MenoPause: the blog!

Posts to our Blog are written by NAMS staff members and Dr. Margery Gass. All posts are reviewed and edited by Dr. Gass. We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP
NAMS Executive Director

An internationally recognized leader in the field of menopause, Dr. Gass became Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society in 2010. Dr. Gass has been an investigator on numerous research projects, including serving as a principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative, and has published and presented on a wide range of topics related to menopause, including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and hormone therapy.

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