The Estrogen Dilemma Posted on May 31st, 2010
If you’re a post-menopausal woman like me you are interested in staying young, youthful and mentally sharp. I am delighted to know a brilliant researcher Dr Roberta Brinton whose seminal work involves the subject of estrogen and memory decline in post-menopausal women. You can imagine my surprise when I opened up the New York Times Magazine last weekend to find an article about estrogen featuring Dr Brinton’s work. Roberta Brinton has been a guest speaker at several of my “Anti-Aging Conferences.” Her information is spellbinding. Why just hearing her talk about ‘shooting mitochrondria’ can get anyone excited. Brinton is a brain scientist and her passion is estrogen and its relationship to brain health. Her work is important because, according to Brinton 68 percent of Alzheimer’s patients are women and 70 percent of women are “estrogen dependent.” I am one of them. At age 60 it was evident that I was not functioning well without estrogen. Now 6 years later I have energy, great mental clarity and a zest and enthusiasm enviable by many of my younger counterparts. Bio-identical, plant based hormones have improved my quality of life. Brinton and other scientists claim that estrogen improves brain function when it is added to healthy tissue, but according to the same researchers if it is added to cells that are sick or damaged, estrogen does not strengthen or repair. Therefore, according to Brinton, taking plant-based estrogen, post menopause, may be potentially useless or harmful to brain cells. Taking estrogen is every woman’s dilemma. Do you take it and feel better and weigh the cancer risk or do you not take it and decline into age-related dementia? The debate continues.
Do You Know About Henrietta Lacks? Posted on May 19th, 2010
Henrietta Lacks was a poor woman living in rural Maryland. In 1951 Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. When Lacks arrived at the hospital complaining about a “knot inside her, the doctors who treated her, had been trying to grow cancer cells in petri dishes for some time. All of their attempts failed until the arrival of Henrietta Lacks. The cells from her tumor were harvested without her permission, grew and multiplied like “crabgrass” and their descendants are still growing to this day creating major medical breakthroughs. Millions of these cells have changed hands – for big bucks. The HeLa line as it is termed, has been used for research on polio, salmonella, tuberculosis, herpes and many strains of cancer – all very exciting. Sadly, Henrietta Lacks descendants live in abject poverty, several of them ill and unable to pay their medical bills. For a mother as famous to the scientific world as Henrietta Lacks, surely someone could have seen fit to provide for the Lacks’ lineage. This well written book by Rebecca Sloot (Crown 2010) focuses on difficult issues such as the patient identity, issues of privacy and consent and who has access to treatment. This compelling tale is full of scientific intrigue that continues behind the hallowed bastions of research. But thanks to Henrietta, her cells have transformed medicine for us all.
50 Years on The Pill Posted on May 10th, 2010
Today is Mother’s day. Fifty years ago today marks the anniversary of that provocative announcement that introduced “the pill” to the world. That announcement gave women a new “take” on sex, fertility, career and their world. The pill meant reassurance and control. Today, a world without “the pill” is unimaginable. It is used to treat acne, skip periods, plan children and give women freedom in the bedroom. The pill took away the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy (in the 50’s and 60’s that was huge) and the fear of a back alley abortion or giving a baby up for adoption.
I remember being a nervous bride at the age of 21, and asking my doctor for a prescription for “the pill.” Ortho Novum it was called then – little pink pills in a round container. My time on the pill did not last long. In those days, there was far more estrogen than contained in the pill today. I felt bloated and miserable and stopped taking it after 3 months or so. Then there was the condom, spermicidal foam, the IUD, the diaphragm and a lot of prayer. Finally after the birth of my second child I had a tubal ligation. That sealed the vault on the worry of an unwanted pregnancy forever. Even though the pill has been around for 50 years and has opened a centuries-needed doorway to female equality in a man’s world, sexual liberation has come with a price. Girls are now “estrogenized” early and becoming sexually active in their teens, there are more sexually transmitted diseases and estrogen in birth control pills ends up in the drinking water. In 2008, Americans spent $3.5 billion on birth control pills and the one pill, Ortho Novum that was available when I was a young woman, has blossomed into 40 varieties today. There is no question the pill has enabled women to shed the shackles of a life sentence to domesticity. Thanks to the pill, we have emerged from the shadows of our significant others to find our own place in the world. There are issues with the pill however. There are side effects that range from annoying to dangerous, e.g. weight gain, acne, irritability, anxiety, memory loss, lost hair, yeast problems, etc. The dangerous ones are myocardial infarction, thromboembolic disease, cerebrovascular disease, carcinoma, metabolic disorders (diabetes), hypertension, headaches, amenorrhea, disorders of lactation, and infertility. The pill disrupts the female endocrine system because it contains synthetic estrogen. The dilemma that every woman faces, how to enjoy sex and not get pregnant continues – pill or no pill.
Dr OZ on Fungus Posted on May 8th, 2010
Finally a voice of reason on the topic of fungus! Who would have believed it – today on the Dr Oz Show, the good doctor himself with a petri dish of fungus in his hand explaining the dangers of fungus, parasites and pollens which can be found in the carpeting in your home, and get into your lungs and affect your nervous system. People don’t realize that these opportunistic organisms are harbored among the fibers of your carpet and pose a health risk not only to adults but to children as well. New carpeting and other materials also out-gas for many months exuding toxic fumes and adding to the body’s already over burdened chemical load. Recent studies show that new born infants can have up to 300 chemicals in their blood stream out of some 70,000 different chemicals found in our food, air and water supply. Dr Oz is shedding light on some of these important subjects, making health education fun and provocative.