Your brain is a dynamic organ, constantly adapting and changing, for better or for worse, even on a day-to-day basis Continue reading
Your brain is a dynamic organ, constantly adapting and changing, for better or for worse, even on a day-to-day basis Continue reading
Did You Know…
… that fenugreek can help build muscles, burn body fat and protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease?
Fenugreek is more than just a flavorful spice to add to chicken, curries and salads. It’s been a century-old favorite among ayurvedic practitioners and herbalists for treating ailments from Continue reading
Did You Know…
…that pine pollen can elevate sexual libido, increase fertility, and decrease the symptoms of aging?
Springtime blossoms with color as flowers bloom and leaves brighten to green, but take a closer look and you’ll notice hints of yellow carpeting the ground. These yellow dustings are actually pine pollen that fall from pine branches Continue reading
Did You Know…
…that a versatile Peruvian superfood boosts energy, libido and sexual function, improves fertility, and balances hormones? Continue reading
In her new book, Suzanne Somers reveals the secrets behind some cutting-edge medical advances that she believes could revolutionize the way we think about getting older.
Suzanne Somers is 65 years old, but you’d never know it from looking at her.
Somers, an actress, author, Continue reading
More and more people are using bio-identical hormone therapy. Though this therapy conveys a wide range of benefits, it can also pose the risk of undesirable side effects. But you can make this therapy safer and more effective with an individualized approach: Understand how your body metabolizes hormones and boost their benefits with the right diet, lifestyle and supplements. Continue reading
Did you know…that the longest-living man’s secret to longevity was the use of two best herbs, ginseng and fo-ti, for health benefits which deliver the “elixir of youth” effect? Continue reading
University of California Los Angeles study suggests reducing iron may lower age-related brain disease risk
The human body has a love-hate relationship with iron. Just the right amount is needed for proper cell function, yet too much is associated with brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Science knows that men have more iron in their bodies and brains than women. These higher levels may be part of the explanation for why men develop these age-related neurodegenerative diseases at a younger age.
But why do women have less iron Continue reading
Depression affects both men and women, but more women are diagnosed every year. Here are 7 common reasons why – from genetics, hormones, stress, other illnesses and more. Plus, get expert tips for spotting depression signs, where to go for help and natural ways to ease symptoms. Then take our quiz to find out if you could be depressed…
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of days. But when a woman has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It causes pain for her and those who care about her.
Depression is a common but serious illness, and most women who have it need treatment. The majority – even those with the most severe cases – can get better.
Signs You May Have Depression
Women with depressive illnesses Continue reading
In 2000, results from two large studies showed that taking estrogen and medroxyprogesterone could actually increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. (Medroxyprogesterone is a drug that protects the uterus and may reduce a woman’s risk of cancer.) Then came the news that hormone replacement therapy was linked to the risks of urinary incontinence and dementia.
Ever since all this news broke, there has been intense focus on finding alternative therapies. Here, I want to give you an up-to-date, unbiased review of what all the scientific literature says. Do dietary supplements actually reduce menopausal symptoms? Let’s go case-by-case starting with the big hitter.
Black cohosh is native to North America. It is the most- studied supplement for treating menopausal symptoms. As early as 1940, it has been widely used in Germany. Here are the best studies conducted so far in chronological order:
1988: Over six months, 48 to 140 milligrams (mg) of black cohosh a day significantly reduced menopausal symptoms Continue reading
A source of great frustration for many people, insomnia is a fairly common occurrence that prevents individuals from sleeping. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including the inability to initially fall asleep and repeatedly waking up in the middle of the night. When not treated, insomnia can affect the health and productivity of an individual, and if left alone for too long, it can cause serious health problems. Many women that are undergoing premenopausal or menopause complain of insomnia, which is one of many items on a list of symptoms associated with these phases that cause the body to change in major ways (understandably throwing off several of their usually regular systems). Because sleeping aids can become addictive and cause other side effects, many women who suffer from insomnia seek out natural remedies, and some studies have shown that the intake of the hormone progesterone can relieve the sleepless nights.
A steroid hormone, Progesterone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and placenta of human beings. An important part of the female reproductive system, this hormone plays a major role in the conception, development, and birth of a child. Because the levels of progesterone are so closely tied to the cycle of a woman’s reproductive organs, premenopausal and menopause naturally leave its levels highly unbalanced, which can cause many side effects through its lack of interaction with other parts of the body. Continue reading
Breast cancer is a serious concern for women. According to the National Cancer Institute, the disease took about 50,000 lives last year in the U.S. alone. But the mainstream media, as well as mainstream medicine, often treat breast cancer as something that strikes out of the blue — giving women no choice but to hope they are not one of the “unlucky” ones to get breast cancer. At the same time this subjects women to to mammography so a malignancy can be spotted early, despite the fact the actual radiation exposure associated with mammograms is known to raise the risk of breast cancer in some women (http://www.naturalnews.com/024901.html).
But here’s good news. Scientists studying natural compounds in plants are finding many may offer some level of protection against breast cancer. That means women can start taking control of their breast cancer risk by paying attention to what they eat and drink. In detailed research just published in BioMed Central’s Continue reading
Want to know one of the most telling signs that you’re nearing or in the midst of menopause? The concept of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds as precious — and as out of reach — as fitting into the jeans you wore in high school. According to a comprehensive report on menopause and sleep by the National Sleep Foundation, 61 percent of women between 45 and 60 say they suffer from sleeplessness and other sleep problems. Adding insult to injury, most women don’t consider this problem serious enough to seek treatment. In fact, in a separate survey of women suffering from menopause-related sleep problems, 62 percent said they hadn’t talked to a healthcare professional about their symptoms.
Yet recent research shows that poor sleep and lack of sleep raise your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and immune system dysfunction. It’s time to get some help! Continue reading
For women of a certain age, menopause is a fact of life. But this middle-age change no longer looks so feminine.
More men are arriving in doctors’ offices complaining of sexual dysfunction, weight gain, fatigue, depression and other unpleasant, but potentially vague, symptoms. In some of these men, a blood test reveals low testosterone levels. And there has been a corresponding uptick in testosterone prescriptions, one approach to treating low male hormone levels.
For these patients, doctors like Robert Brannigan in Chicago may give testosterone replacement a trial run to treat symptoms which, he said, can have a profound effect on a patient.
“It helps many, many of these individuals to have overall improved quality of life. It not only affects them, but very often their partners and their intimate relationships,” said Brannigan, an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an associate professor of urology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Male menopause, as it has been dubbed, is controversial. First there’s the name, which experts dislike because it draws an inaccurate parallel with the female experience. (The accurate term for men is late-onset hygonadism.) What’s more, the disorder itself is not universally accepted, with some saying there is weak evidence for a link between symptoms and decreased hormone levels, and questioning whether benefits outweigh the risk and unknowns of testosterone prescriptions.
“I think the question that arises is how much of this is related to hormones and how much of it is the facts of life that we experience as we age,” said Dr. Thomas Walsh, an assistant professor and director of male reproductive and sexual medicine at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine in Seattle. Walsh, a urologist, prescribes testosterone after what he describes as “heavy informed consent.” [7 Ways the Mind and Body Change With Age]
“There is still a lot of controversy, and I don’t think we have all the answers yet. You have to take the data at hand and apply it to the individual,” he said.
Up to four million men may have low testosterone, with most caused by age-related declines. However, only a minority receive treatment, according to Walsh. That number of men affected is expected to rise.
The female misnomer
‘Male menopause’ may grab attention, but experts dislike the term, because it glosses over the significant differences between the hormonal changes men and women experience as they age.
“Nobody doubts female menopause, and nobody doubts the mechanism by which it happens, that’s not the case for male menopause,” said Dr. Ike Iheanacho, editor of the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, which in June published a review on using testosterone to treat so-called male menopause. “That epithet is unhelpful, because it deters people from doing what we [have] done, which is look at the evidence.”
The review, which reflected the journal’s opinion, found weak causal evidence that age-related hormone declines cause symptoms in men, a lack of long-term data, and at best, mixed results for short-term treatment.
For a woman, menopause marks the end of fertility and occurs when progesterone and estrogen, produced by the ovaries, drop off. Symptoms can last several years, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Hormonal changes in men are quite different. Testosterone levels can decrease by about 1 percent to 2 percent each year after about the age of 40. While menopause is a universal experience for women, testosterone does not decline in all men. Other factors besides aging, like obesity or injury, are associated with low testosterone.
For many years, long-term hormone replacement for women was considered protective for all kinds of ailments, until study results in 2002 revealed it increased risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer, according to the NIH.
This history has implications for men with low hormones and symptoms, Walsh said. “You are seeing today far more caution on the part of clinicians and investigators.”
Two papers published in the July issue of the New England Journal of Medicine addressed the diagnosis of hypogonadism and its treatment.
In one study, researchers led by Frederick Wu of the University of Manchester used data from 3,369 European men to find correlations between testosterone levels and a battery of potential symptoms. As a result, they suggested that the presence of at least three measures of sexual dysfunction, including frequency of thoughts about sex and erectile function, in a man with a testosterone level below 11 nanomoles per liter could be used to define late-onset hypogonadism. (The study defined a decreased level as between 13 and 8 nanomoles per liter for total testosterone.) However, these symptoms were also widely reported by men who did not suffer from depressed hormone levels.
This causal relationship between hormone levels and symptoms is always a question, according to Dr. William Bremner, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, who wrote about that research in an editorial in the journal.
“In truth you don’t know that those are due to the testosterone until you give men testosterone and see whether those symptoms are improved,” he said.
Testosterone has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength, so a second study in the same journal issue set out to test how much testosterone supplementation was needed to increase mobility among men ages 65 or older with difficulty walking or climbing stairs. The authors, led by Shehzad Basaria of Boston University’s School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, found evidence that testosterone did improve the men’s strength. However, the men taking testosterone also experienced an unusually high rate of cardiovascular problems.
The latter result is surprising, and may be due to chance, since previous studies have not shown a connection between testosterone and cardiovascular risk, Bremner said.
The Women’s Health Initiative Study, which revealed risks of hormone replacement therapy, followed a total of 161,808 women over 15 years. No long-term research like this has been conducted in men, but it is needed, Bremner said.
“There really are a large number of older men receiving testosterone and the numbers seem to be increasing and it’s not something that is going away,” he added.
On the rise
In roughly the past four years, Brannigan’s urology practice has seen an increase in patients he said are suffering from late-onset hypogonadism.
“Certainly, there is no question we are seeing more patients, and the question is, and I don’t think we know, is it due to increased public awareness or is it due to increased prevalence,” Brannigan said. Still, he estimates that 95 percent of cases are undiagnosed.
His office is not unique. With an aging, more at-risk population living in a post-Viagra era, when taboos on men’s sexual health issues like erectile dysfunction are lifting, the increase is expected to continue. Prescriptions appear headed up as well.
Between 2005 and 2009, testosterone prescriptions dispensed by pharmacies rose 65 percent in the United States, according to a LiveScience analysis of data from IMS Health, a heath-care information and consulting company.
There is also a lifestyle connection. Low testosterone is associated with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome – a combination of disorders linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. All three are on the rise within the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Surgery to remove healthy ovaries gives a triple benefit to high-risk women: It lowers their threat of breast and ovarian cancer, and boosts their chances of living longer, new research suggests.
The study is the largest to date to find advantages for preventive surgery for women who carry BRCA gene mutations. Women with the faulty genes have a dramatically higher cancer risk than other women — five times greater for breast cancer and at least 10 times greater for ovarian cancer.
The study, appearing in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, found benefits for women with two different BRCA gene variants whether they had previously had breast cancer or not.
The results offer more tailored evidence for women considering ovary removal, a surgery that ends fertility, fast-forwards them into early menopause and may contribute to osteoporosis or heart problems later in life.
“It’s really critical to have the best information when making such a profound decision,” said senior author Timothy Rebbeck of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
The researchers followed nearly 2,500 women with BRCA mutations in Austria, England, the Netherlands and the United States. All the women were cancer-free at the start. They were watched for an average of four years. Most of the women were younger than 50 at the start of the study.
They got counseling to help them choose between surgery or increased screening to watch for cancers early.
Ten percent of the women chose mastectomy and 40 percent chose to have their ovaries removed; some had both. More than half the women had neither surgery.
The women who chose ovary removal had impressive results:
_1 percent were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer that showed up in cells missed by surgeons, compared to 6 percent of the women who kept their ovaries.
_11 percent were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 19 percent of the women who kept their ovaries.
_3 percent of those who had surgery died, compared to 10 percent of the others.
The study also found preventive mastectomy lowered the risk of breast cancer. No breast cancers were seen in the women who had their breasts removed. That may seem unsurprising, but mastectomy can leave behind breast tissue that can turn cancerous.
The study was observational, meaning it can’t prove one choice was better than another. Other factors could have caused differences in the women’s cancer rates.
But the results will help doctors counsel their patients, said Dr. Virginia Kaklamani of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.
“I’ll use it mostly in talking to people considering genetic testing,” Kaklamani said. “I can tell them, ‘If we know you test positive, there are things to do that will help you live longer.'”
The increased risk for BRCA carriers is frightening. In the general population, about 12 in 100 women will get breast cancer during their lifetimes, compared to about 60 in 100 women who have faulty BRCA genes, according to the National Cancer Institute. For ovarian cancer, the lifetime risk in the general population is a little more than 1 in 100 compared to 15-to-40 in 100 women with BRCA mutations.
For women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, the decision to get tested can be agonizing. The $3,300 blood test, while often covered by insurance, can disrupt families, force decisions on childbearing and leave a woman feeling stigmatized. Surgery costs thousands of dollars, not including lost time at work. Without preventive surgery, a woman faces a regimen of mammograms, MRIs and blood tests to look for cancer.
But several signs point to “the beginning of a new era” for high-risk women, said Joanna Rudnick, a 36-year-old Los Angeles filmmaker. She has known for nine years that she carries a breast cancer gene mutation. Engaged and planning to have children, she’s also planning to have her breasts and ovaries removed when she’s 40. Her documentary “In the Family” tells about her choices and those faced by other “BRCA-positive” women.
With testing more than a decade old, researchers are just beginning to have better data to understand the benefits of risk-reducing surgery. For high-risk women, equally important are the breakthroughs in cosmetic breast reconstruction, laws to prevent genetic discrimination and evolving attitudes toward removing body parts to avoid cancer, Rudnick said. A federal judge recently struck down patents on the two genes held by Myriad Genetics Inc., which may widen research possibilities and testing options.
Rudnick’s glad to hear ovary removal may reduce her risk of breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer.
“This is one of the rare silver linings that has been learned from these prospective studies,” Rudnick said