Mediterranean Diet Reduces the Symptoms of Menopause



A new study finds that following the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause.


 

MEDITERRANEAN DIET REDUCES THE SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE

I have written extensively about the Mediterranean diet, and the lower risk of cancer and heart disease associated with this diet. In general, a Mediterranean diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and poultry.  The use of unsaturated cooking oils, like olive oil and canola oil, and the avoidance of saturated fats, are also hallmarks of a Mediterranean diet, as is the decreased intake of red meat, processed meats, and dairy products.

Now, a newly published prospective clinical research study suggests that adhering to a Mediterranean diet may also significantly decrease hot flashes and night sweats in women who have gone through menopause. This new study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The Australian Longitudinal Study included 6,040 women who had gone through menopause, and this very large group of study volunteers was then followed every 3 years, for a total of 9 years. Based upon extensive analysis of the diets and menopausal symptoms of these research volunteers, the researchers found that the volunteers who most consistently adhered to a Mediterranean diet were 20 percent less likely to have hot flashes and night sweats when compared to the women who did not follow a Mediterranean-type diet. Similarly, the women who regularly consumed the largest amount of fruit in their diet were 19 percent less likely to experience menopausal symptoms, when compared to the volunteers who consumed the least amount of fruit. Moreover, the women who consumed the highest amount of fat and sugar in their diet were 23 percent more likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats when compared to the volunteers who consumed the least amount of fat and sugar.

The findings of this interesting study offer women who are struggling with post-menopausal hot flashes and night sweats a natural (and healthy) alternative to the medications that are currently prescribed for the relief of these symptoms (and which are, unfortunately, not highly effective). At the same time, switching to a Mediterranean diet to help manage your symptoms of menopause will also help to lower your risk of developing both cancer and cardiovascular disease! (As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle not only reduces your risk of dying from cancer, but also reduces your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease at the same time.)

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!


Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

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Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

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Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

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Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.9 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Clonidine and the Antidepressant Effexor Both Reduce Hot Flashes

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The blood pressure medication clonidine and the antidepressant venlafaxine (Effexor) both reduce hot flashes caused by breast cancer treatment and by menopause.




CLONIDINE AND THE ANTIDEPRESSANT EFFEXOR BOTH REDUCE HOT FLASHES

 

The modern management of breast cancer often includes “hormonal therapy,” in which medications that block the effects of estrogen, or decrease the amount of estrogen manufactured by the body, are used to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.  Despite significantly lowering the risk of breast cancer recurrence in patients with estrogen-sensitive breast tumors, recent clinical research studies have shown that fewer than one-half of all breast cancer patients actually go on to complete the recommended 5-year course of hormonal therapy.  (This very poor level of compliance with a medical therapy proven to lower recurrence and death rates associated with breast cancer is particularly an issue among younger women.)

While there are several reasons why more than half of all breast cancer patients do not complete their recommended course of hormonal therapy, one of the major causes, and especially among younger patients, is that these medications are commonly associated with significant side effects, including the same hot flashes that frequently accompany menopause.

Numerous treatment interventions have been tried in an effort prevent hot flashes associated with breast cancer therapy (as well as hot flashes in postmenopausal women without breast cancer), but very few of these therapies have been shown to have any clinically significant benefit. However, several previous clinical studies have suggested that certain types of antidepressant medications, as well as the blood pressure medication clonidine, may reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Unfortunately, much of the research in this area has been of rather low quality, and so the findings of these lower level studies have not radically changed the way that most physicians have managed their patients’ hot flashes. Now, a newly published prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, strongly suggests that venlafaxine (also known by its trade name, Effexor®), a medication that is part of the new “serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors” (SNRIs) class of antidepressants, and clonidine may both be effective in decreasing the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women with a history of breast cancer.

In this study, 102 women with a history of both breast cancer and severe hot flashes were secretly and randomly assigned to take either venlafaxine (75 mg per day), clonidine (0.1 mg per day), or an identical-appearing placebo (sugar) pill. Following 12 weeks of observation, 80 patients remained in this clinical study. At the end of this 12-week clinical study, both clonidine and venlafaxine were found to significantly decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes, when compared to placebo pills. Although both medications were clinically effective in reducing hot flashes, and although venlafaxine resulted in a more rapid reduction in hot flashes than clonidine, clonidine was associated with a greater overall improvement in hot flashes, when compared to venlafaxine, after 12 weeks of treatment. (Venlafaxine was also associated with a greater incidence of nausea, constipation, and appetite loss, compared to clonidine.)

The findings of this study add to those of prior studies that have shown a 15 to 25% reduction in the severity and frequency of hot flashes with antidepressants such as venlafaxine, and with clonidine. Moreover, prior studies have shown that these two medications reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women with a history of breast cancer as well as in postmenopausal women without a prior history of breast cancer.

One important limitation of this study is its small size, and its high patient drop-out rate, which resulted in small numbers of patient volunteers in each of the three “arms” of this prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study.  However, the findings of this small clinical research study, nonetheless, are still consistent with those of previously published studies; and taken together, these studies suggest that venlafaxine (and other modern antidepressant medications) and clonidine may be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of hot flashes in both breast cancer patients who are undergoing hormonal therapy for their cancer and in postmenopausal women with menopause-associated hot flashes.


 

For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 



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Soy (Isoflavones), Osteoporosis, and the Symptoms of Menopause


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A new placebo-controlled, double-blinded research study showed no benefit from soy supplements in reducing osteoporosis or the symptoms of menopause.



SOY (ISOFLAVONES), OSTEOPOROSIS, AND THE SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE

As I discuss in detail in my recent book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the symptoms of menopause have been clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  (This important topic is also the subject of my next book, which will be published in 2012.)  Since the preliminary findings of the landmark Women’s Health Initiative study were released in 2002, proving the link between HRT and breast cancer, many women and their physicians have been searching for safer alternatives to HRT in an effort to relieve the symptoms of menopause, and to reduce the risk of thinning of the bones (osteoporosis).

There have been several public health research studies that have suggested a role for soy foods in the prevention of both osteoporosis (“thin bones”) and menopausal symptoms. Indeed, the findings of these studies make scientific sense, as soy isoflavones, which are present in many soy food products (and especially in tofu), act as a weak form of estrogen. (It is the loss of estrogen production in the ovaries, after menopause, that leads to both osteoporosis and the unpleasant symptoms of menopause in postmenopausal women.) However, as with the vast majority of disease prevention research in general, the available research data linking soy isoflavones to improvements in bone density and menopausal symptoms has been in the form of survey-based studies, and other relatively unreliable types of research studies. Now, a newly published prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, doubled-blinded clinical research study takes a closer (and more accurate) look at the impact of soy isoflavone supplements on osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms. This clinical research study appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In this study, 122 postmenopausal women were randomized to receive a daily soy isoflavone supplement pill (200 mg), while 126 postmenopausal women were randomized to receive a placebo (sugar) pill that was identical in appearance to the soy isoflavone pills. Neither the research study volunteers nor the research staff knew which patient volunteers received the soy isoflavone tablets and which volunteers received the placebo pills until the research study was completed. These patient volunteers were all followed for an average of 2 years. Bone density measurements were performed at the beginning of the study, and then again 2 years later. Common menopausal symptoms were also tracked throughout the duration of this study.

After 2 years of observation, there was no significant difference in bone density measurements between the two groups of women who participated in this clinical research study (in both groups of women, there was an average bone density loss of about 2 percent over the 2-year period of this study). Moreover, the women in the soy isoflavone group actually reported ahigher incidence of hot flashes and constipation than the women in the placebo group.

In this well-controlled prospective, randomized, doubled-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical research study, a daily supplement of 200 mg of soy isoflavones neither improved postmenopausal bone density loss nor improved the most troublesome symptoms of menopause.  (Whether or not higher doses of soy isoflavones, or natural soy foods instead of soy isoflavone supplements, might have shown some beneficial effect on bone density loss or menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women cannot be answered by this study.)  Therefore, this study convincingly shows that even relatively large daily doses of purified soy isoflavones have no beneficial effect on either bone density loss or menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.  Based upon the results of this study, if you are currently taking soy isoflavone supplements in an effort to reduce your risk of osteoporosis, or the symptoms of menopause, this high-level clinical research study indicates that you are probably wasting your time and money on such supplements.  (However, as I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, soy foods may actually reduce a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, particularly if consumed during early adolescence and early adulthood, and soy products may also decrease a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer.)

 

For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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