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Blog: MenoPause ~ take time to think about it

  • Will exercise help you live long and stay lively?

    by Margery Gass | Sep 14, 2012
    Regular exercise after menopause can help you stay young and live longer. That’s because regular exercise keeps your telomeres long. Ever heard of them? They’re the end caps on chromosomes that get shorter and shorter with age. People—and animals—with longer telomeres look and act younger and live longer than those with shorter ones. You might have heard about telomeres when three scientists won a Nobel Prize in 2009 for their telomere discoveries. Or, you might have seen one of the PBS Scientific American Frontiers episodes with old gray-haired, slow-moving mice next to the sleek, brown, active ones that were really the same age but had longer telomeres. Now, a just-published telomere/exercise study in the NAMS journal Menopause shows you can take a sip from this fountain of youth with regular exercise, which helps keep telomeres long. The postmenopausal women in the study who exercised regularly not only had longer telomeres than women who didn’t exercise, they also had higher levels of adiponectin, which is known to be anti-inflammatory and to help put the brakes on type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries. So keep exercising and live long and healthy!

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  • Chill out: tips to treat your hot flashes

    by Margery Gass | Sep 13, 2012
    Keeping your body cool can help keep hot flashes at bay. Here are just some of the cool tricks:
    • Keep ice water handy to sip.
    • Turn down the thermostat.
    • Use a ceiling fan or air conditioning.
    • Dress cool—wear cotton, linen, or rayon, and avoid wool, other synthetic fabrics, and silk.
    • Stick to open-necked shirts.
    • Dress in layers so you can take something off if you’re feeling warm.
    • At night, take a cool shower before bed, wear cotton nightclothes or loose fitness clothing designed to wick away moisture, and keep an ice pack under your pillow.
    • Get a bigger bed if you and your partner are on different “heat planets.”
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  • Menopause mind fog—it’s real, it’s normal, and it’s temporary

    by Margery Gass | Sep 12, 2012
    Mood, memory, and menopause really are linked. A memory study recently published in the NAMS journal Menopause showed that women approaching menopause who thought they were having memory problems really did perform worse on tests of attention, working memory, “encoding” (the process of making a memory), and verbal skills and they had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance than women who said they didn’t have a lot of memory problems. The women who had lower levels of estrogen were the ones who struggled especially with memory encoding. But take heart, the fog will lift. A National Institutes of Health-funded study of thousands of women as they went through menopause showed that the memory problems are worse right before menopause and improve after menopause.
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  • Which hormones are better?

    by Margery Gass | Sep 11, 2012
    There’s been a lot of talk about how “bioidentical” hormones and transdermal hormones (in skin patches or gels) may be safer options than the oral pill hormones used in the Women’s Health Initiative Studies. There’s been some research, too, hinting that transdermal estradiol (a bioidentical hormone in FDA-approved forms such as patches, creams or gels) and micronized progesterone (also bioidentical and government approved) might cause fewer blood clots. But we won’t know for sure until we see results from large-scale randomized trials, which may not be done anytime soon. Do different formulations of hormone therapy have different effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, progression of atherosclerosis, memory, or quality of life? The Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) will answer many of these questions. Stay tuned because the results are coming soon. In fact, the first results from the trial will be presented at the NAMS Annual Meeting in Orlando in October.
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  • Menopause? Start moving!

    by Margery Gass | Sep 10, 2012
    If you already exercise regularly, great! But if you don’t, now’s the time for so many reasons. Exercise is good for everybody, but it can do even more for you as a woman at menopause. For one, aerobic exercise can ease your hot flashes. You might think that physical activity, which raises your body temperature, would bring hot flashes on, but that’s not the case, shows research published in the NAMS journal Menopause.

    On average, the midlife women in this study had fewer hot flash symptoms in the 24 hours after a moderate-intensity, 30-minute exercise session. Women with lower fitness levels, however, didn’t get as much benefit.

    Exercise also helps beat back the risks that rise for you at this time of life—heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. The American Heart Association puts being a couch potato right up there with bad cholesterol levels as a heart disease risk. The risk of diabetes goes up, too, but exercise has the power to beat it back and even cure type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, as it has for a number of The Biggest Loser contestants.

    Menopause is also a time when you can lose bone mass, and exercise is one way to keep your bones strong and even make them stronger. One of the latest studies shows that just 2 hours of exercise a week knocks down levels of a hormone that promotes bone loss and pumps up a growth factor that builds bone.

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  • Good for your bones: Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil

    by Margery Gass | Sep 07, 2012
    You’ve already heard that a Mediterranean diet is good for your heart. Now there’s evidence it could make your bones stronger, too. Researchers in Spain have been looking at the effects of the Mediterranean diet—tweaked different ways—in middle-aged and older people. They found that participants in their study who got intensive diet advice and an extra supply (1 liter a week) of extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of osteocalcin and other healthy bone markers in their blood than participants who just got the advice or who got the advice and an extra supply of nuts. In fact, blood levels of calcium went down in the last two groups but stayed stable for the participants who got the supplemental extra-virgin olive oil.

    The researchers saw bonus benefits for diabetes, too. All the participants had type 2 diabetes. The ones in the supplemental olive-oil group all retained the ability to secrete insulin. In other words, their diabetes didn’t progress to the point where they had to take insulin.

    The Mediterranean diet is the pattern of the traditional cuisine in Crete, Greece, and Southern Italy. It includes lots of grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruits; small amounts of red meats; small to moderate amounts of poultry and dairy products (usually yogurt or cheese); moderate amounts of alcohol (usually red wine with meals); and fairly high fat consumption (up to 40% of total calories), mostly monounsaturated fat—usually olive oil.
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  • A focus on foods, not calories, can help you lose menopause weight

    by Margery Gass | Sep 06, 2012
    Many women gain weight after menopause and have a tough time losing it. Counting calories is cumbersome—and it doesn’t seem to work for many women.

    A focus on changing just a few food habits—such as eating more vegetables and fruits but fewer sweets and less meat—looks like the simple recipe for success, found researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.

    They studied 481 overweight and obese women after menopause. Some of the women got intensive help—frequent and regular counseling from nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and psychologists, while others just got some occasional advice on general health. But no matter which group they were in, the women who consumed fewer deserts and sugary drinks lost weight in the short and long term.

    Women who lost weight in the short term were also those who cut down on fried foods and eating out and upped their fish consumption. But the women who cut down on the sugar, increased their fruit and vegetable intake, and decreased their intake of meats and cheeses were the ones who were successful in the long run. And that’s a pretty easy recipe.
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  • Good news about hormone therapy if you have had a hysterectomy

    by Margery Gass | Sep 05, 2012
    If you no longer have a uterus, you can use estrogen alone and perhaps use it longer than women with a uterus (who have to use estrogen plus progesterone or a similar compound). For you, the risk of breast cancer doesn’t go up for at least 7 years. In women who need to take both estrogen and progesterone, it goes up sooner—after 3 to 5 years. It is also important to note that all women who are at increased risk for stroke, heart disease, or blood clots are generally advised not to use hormone therapy.
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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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