Pearls on Menopausal Health & Comfort

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: October 22, 2014

Contributed by Dr. Michael Goodman, Red Hot Mamas® Medical Expert

Dr. Goodman’s October article is in the form of easily digestible ‘pearls’ of wisdom including tidbits of knowledge to help guide you towards better breast health, less depression and illness, and better overall wellbeing.

Alcohol impacts breast health:

  • A lot of alcohol increases breast cancer risk.
  • A modest amount does not. How much is a lot?
    Certainly more than 2 drinks per day is considered a lot.
    (12 oz. beer; 6 oz. wine, 1.5 oz. spirits = 1 drink)
  • The higher the alcohol consumption, the greater the breast cancer risk
  • Consuming alcohol is added calories
    2 glasses wine 13.5% = ~ 250 calories

Cardiovascular health:

Dark chocolate in small quantities helps decrease the risk of heart attack.
• Less risk of heart attack with 1-2 alcohol drinks a day than no alcohol.
• Less risk of heart attack with 1-2 cups coffee a day.
• Good way to lower risk of heart attack: a Mediterranean-type diet
Bottom line: increase protein intake, diminish calories, modest amounts of alcohol

Exercise:

Vigorously exercising for 30-45 minutes a minimum of 3-4 days a week will lead to:
• Lower blood pressure
• Better sleep
• Less depression
• Much lower risk of diabetes
• Less risk of heart and vascular disease

In a study of identical twins, the twin who exercised regularly was biologically younger by ~ 10 years than the twin who did not.

Hot flashes:

There is very interesting new research on the relationship of menopausal hot flashes to stress and cardiovascular health.

  • Higher risks of cardiovascular disease have been found in women with a higher concentration of menopausal symptoms.
  • Stress and negative attitudes towards menopause and greater fear of menopause therapies has been shown to greatly increase negative symptoms.
  • Those women experiencing a more symptomatic menopause had significantly increased risk of coronary heart disease. Similarly, the risk of stroke was significantly elevated.
  • Negative attitudes and stress = more difficult menopause = more cardiovascular disease & stroke.
  • There is a significant decrease in cerebral blood flow during a hot flash, which helps to explain a women’s inability to continue her tasks during a severe hot flash.

Stress: 75-90% of visits to health care providers are related to stress!

Stress responses increase:

  • insulin resistance (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease)
  • cholesterol
  • blood pressure, blood cortisol levels
  • blood sugar
  • weight
  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • diminishes memory and focus, self-esteem, and sleep quality
  • exacerbates aging
  • lowers DHEA levels

In closing, remember your long-term health is not just in a pill or a hormone or a 10-minute doctor’s visit.

To find a Certified Menopause Practitioner go to www.menopause.org, the website of the North American Menopause Society.

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