Sunday, July 27, 2008

Regular exercise cuts breast cancer risk for perimenopausal women

Get active! New research reveals that girls and women (12-35) who exercise regularly have a substantially lower risk of breast cancer before menopause compared to those who are less active.

In the largest (65,000 women) and most detailed analysis of how exercise impacts premenopausal breast cancer rates, the study found that those who were physically active had a 23 per cent lower risk of breast cancer before menopause. In particular, high levels of physical activity from ages 12 to 22 contributed most strongly to the lower breast cancer risk.

The study was conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard University in Boston.

For the complete article, click here.

HRT and cancer risk

Breast cancer and HRT news clip from January 2008. Bottom line: Women on HRT (combined estrogen/prog) are 300X more likely to develop cancer in the breast lobes (a more rare variety that develops deeper within the breast).

Nourishing Traditions

I seem to be going diet book crazy this month, but besides reading the Anti-Estrogenic Diet book (see other post), I am also diving into Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, a hefty tome that's part cookbook, part expose about the evils of the food industry and the need for people to return to the simpler, traditional foods of our predecessors. Here's the publisher's description...

A full-spectrum nutritional cookbook with a startling message--animal fats and cholesterol are vital factors in the human diet, necessary for reproduction and normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Includes information on how to prepare grains, health benefits of bone broths and enzyme-rich lacto-fermented foods.

From the Back Cover
The Diet Dictocrats don't want you to know that...

Your body needs old-fashioned animal fats New-fangled polyunsaturated oils can be bad for you Modern whole grain products can cause health problems Traditional sauces promote digestion and assimilation Modern food processing denatures our foods but Ancient preservation methods actually increase nutrients in fruits, nuts vegetables, meats and milk products!

At last a successful challenge to Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats!

Recalling the culinary customs of our ancestors, and looking ahead to a future of robust good health for young and old, Nourishing Traditions offers modern families a fascinating guide to wise food choices and proper preparation techniques. Sally Fallon unites the wisdom of the ancients with the latest independent and accurate scientific research in over 700 delicious recipes that will please both exacting gourmets and busy parents.

The central tenant of Nourishing Traditions, in very simple terms is `Eat the way your great grandparents ate'. Some of the more important details are:

1. Avoid processed fats, starches, sugars, and proteins. They are not of no value. They are unhealthy.
2. Eat animal protein and their accompanying fats.
3. Eat whole grain products.
4. Eat foods prepared in such a way that avoids loosing important nutrients, especially raw and lacto-fermented foods.

There are lots of great recipes. I can personally vouch for the yogurt muffins and lacto fermented salsa -- they were both really good and pretty easy to make. The book has left me intrigued to learn more about Sally Fallon. Here's a video I dug up where she talks more about her nutritional research and advice:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Anti-Estrogenic Diet

I've been intrigued about the topic of estrogen dominance every since last fall when I bought a copy of Women's World Magazine with the screaming headline, "Is too much estrogen making you fat?". The article pointed out that most of us (both men and women) are awash in excess estrogen from pesticides and chemical residues in the foods we eat (which mimic estrogen in our bodies). Excess estrogen can come from eating meats and milk with high levels of hormones. Even our own body fat produces a form of estrogen. When you have too much estrogen, it throws the body into imbalance, triggers weight gain, and increases fat deposition (especially belly fat). The article was based on diet tips from Ori Hofmekkler, a health writer of many years for men's magazines and author of the book, The Anti-Estrogenic Diet. The book itself makes for some dry reading, but his ideas are interesting. Basically, it boils down to eating foods which help rid the body of excess estrogen (lots of organic leafy greens, berries, nuts, organic meats and dairy such as yogurt). This week I'm trying to follow some of his eating plans and I have to say I feel a bit more energetic than I have in a few weeks. I'll post more about the specifics about what I've eaten -- and the results. In the meantime, here's a link to Ori's book:
Ant-Estrogenic Diet

and here's a link to Women to Women's article about estrogen dominance (Ori basically makes the same points, but I like this article because it's tailored to women's health):
Estrogen Dominance: Is it real?

Sleep Problems and Menopause?

It’s not just aging that causes sleep problems for women; hormones are partly to blame.

According to research from the Rush University Medical Center, approximately 16 percent of postmenopausal women say they have trouble falling asleep. Forty-one percent report waking up several times during the night.

The study looked at women from several ethnic groups. Caucasians were more likely to have trouble staying asleep. Hispanic women were least likely to wake up repeatedly. Among Hispanic, Caucasian, African American and Japanese women, Chinese women were more likely to report waking up earlier than planned.

The research revealed that changing hormones were partly to blame. Drops in levels of estradiol, the major form of estrogen, were associated with falling and staying asleep. While women on hormone therapy had less trouble falling asleep and didn’t wake up as often, it did not influence hot flashes, cold and night sweats.

“Although we found some evidence that hormonal therapy could benefit these menopausal sleep related symptoms, this was not a consistent finding across all groups compared,” said Dr. Howard Kravitz, one of the principal investigators. “So the role for this particular treatment needs more study.”

Women who became menopausal because of surgery and were not on hormone therapy were most likely to have these sleep issues.

Some links to check out on this topic: As I sit here unable to sleep, here are some articles I found that offer some pretty useful things to try if your sleep is being interfered with:

Insomnia: Reset your inner clock naturally -- and finally get some sleep!

Night sweats and hot flashes -- uncovering the reasons why it's difficult to sleep!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In Canada: Class Action Lawsuit Against Wyeth?

As most of us already know, hormone replace therapy was widely prescribed to women across North America to ease symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. A major study published in 2002 linked the drugs to higher rates of heart attack, stroke and cancer in some cases, however, the drugs remain on the market.

Hundreds of Canadian women who were prescribed Wyeth-made Premarin and Premplus are attempting to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the drug maker. The plaintiffs claim that long-term use led to their development of breast cancer. The allegations have not been proven in a court, but the plaintiffs just jumped over one hurdle when a Vancouver judge refused the drug maker's request to dismiss the case because Wyeth is an American company (it also has an international division). A few more steps must be cleared before the class action filings can take place, but the hope is that any woman in Canada affected by Premarin or Premplus can take part. When/if proceedings actually begin, it will be interesting to see the evidence both sides present.

Wyeth faces thousands of similar lawsuits in the United States and last year was ordered to pay $134.5 million by a jury in Reno, Nevada, to three women who said the drugs caused their breast cancer. According to the Canadian report, there have been 10 trials so far in the United States; eight of them have resulted in verdicts in favour of the plaintiffs.