Ok, so it's all in our heads?

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Ok, so it's all in our heads?

Postby Zero » Mon Oct 11, 2004 7:56 pm

For years, doctors were convinced that we were having "imaginary" symptoms and now they tell us that menopause does NOT affect our memory. So now that we've been told that does this mean we'll suddenly start remembering things again? I do believe some of the symptoms that we've all become familiar with http://www.minniepauz.com/35symptoms.html could become suggestive for some women and I also believe our thoughts are extremely powerful, so maybe what these reports say is true, but so far, none of them say what our "imagined" memory loss IS related to..... is it just our age? Or is it the loss of estrogen? hmmm....that's still related to menopause, is it not? Are they saying taking hormones will help our brain cells? At least one of the reports does say that: A number of factors have contributed to the common belief that memory loss is an inevitable part of menopause, not the least of which is the perception by women themselves that they become more forgetful during or after menopause. In addition, some, but not all, studies of the effects of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) have indicated that women who use HRT have less cognitive decline following menopause and lower rates of Alzheimer's disease. This research has been supported by a large body of experimental evidence that estrogen helps to keep brain cells healthy.

In this atmosphere, memory preservation has been viewed as a possible advantage of HRT, and many women use herbal supplements containing plant estrogens, touted as memory protective.


Could it be now that estrogen is not to be used for heart health, maybe it will be marketed as a solution to memory loss? I will put nothing past the pharmaceutical companies at this point.

Fortunately, there IS a study going on that is trying to determine if black cohosh and other herbs might be effective with the problem that so many women complain about: According to the Seattle Midlife Women's Health Study, 63 percent of women making the transition from pre- to postmenopause say that their ability to remember names, telephone numbers and other information had deteriorated. Maki's study is funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It is being conducted under the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, directed by Norman Farnsworth.

Women interested in participating in the study may call 312-413-5819 for more information.
Zero
 

More about memory loss..

Postby Zero » Mon Oct 11, 2004 8:04 pm

I'm just copying some of the info in the reports I read today. I'd be interested to hear what you all think.

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Health
Menopause Acquitted of Impairing Memory
By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDayNews) -- While you may experience the misery of hot flashes and mood swings as you enter menopause, one thing you can't blame on the "change" is memory loss.

In the latest study that exonerates menopause as a cause of impairing the ability to recall, Taiwanese researchers compared the memory of hundreds of women before they had any menopausal symptoms to their memory as they entered menopause.

They found the women who were going through the menopausal process scored as well or nearly as well on five different cognitive function tests. Results of the study are to be presented Oct. 4 at the American Neurological Association annual meeting in Toronto.

"When women go into perimenopause, they don't need to worry about cognitive decline," said Dr. Jong-Ling Fuh, an attending physician at Taipei Veterans General Hospital and an associate professor of Yang-Ming University School of Medicine.

The researchers said the myth of memory loss during menopause is a perception some women have because as they went through menopause, they felt their memory wasn't as sharp as it had been before. Studies suggesting that hormone replacement therapy might protect against dementia strengthened that belief. However, a large study later found that in older women, hormone replacement therapy not only didn't help protect women from dementia, but could actually increase the risk.

To try to answer the question of whether menopause did have any effect on memory, Fuh and her colleagues studied nearly 700 premenopausal women living on a group of rural islands between Taiwan and China. The Taiwanese government restricted access to these islands until the 1990s, so the authors report that the study's population was nearly homogeneous, which would help rule out other potentially causative factors of memory loss.

The women were between the ages of 40 and 54. None of them had had a hysterectomy, and none took hormone replacement therapy during the study.

All took five cognitive tests designed to assess their memory and cognitive skills at the start of the study, and then again 18 months later.

During the study period, 23 percent of the women began to have symptoms of menopause.

The researchers then compared the memory of the women who had entered menopause to those who had not, and found very little difference. In four of the five tests, there were no statistically significant differences in the two groups of women.

Only on one test was the difference statistically significant, and that difference, said Fuh, was very slight. This test was designed to assess verbal memory and involved showing the women 70 nonsensical figures. Some of the figures were repeated during the test, while most were not. The women were asked whether they had seen the figure earlier.

"For women, menopause does not mean you'll develop memory loss," said Dr. Raina Ernstoff, an attending neurologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. As you're going through perimenopause and experiencing symptoms like hot flashes, she said, you may feel lousy and have trouble sleeping, which might temporarily affect your cognitive skills.

"I don't think declining estrogen levels are what causes memory loss," said Dr. Steven Goldstein, an obstetrician/gynecologist at New York University Medical Center in New York City. "It's not like your memory is bopping along, doing fine and then takes this big dive during menopause, like bone density can."

Both Ernstoff and Goldstein said they weren't aware of many women who believed that menopause might cause significant memory loss. They also both felt that results from this group of women who were so homogeneous might not apply to different groups of women, such as those living in more industrialized society. And they both said that other factors that weren't studied could play a role in memory loss, such as hypertension, which can contribute to vascular dementia.

Ernstoff also pointed out that the education backgrounds can play a large role in memory loss. Fuh acknowledged the researchers did attempt to control the data for educational differences.
Zero
 

Postby drjudy » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:35 am

I have some thoughts...but no time now to put them down. Maybe that's part of the problem--too busy to hold a thought! I'll be back tomorrow and I'll see if I remember what I was going to say.
Judy
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Postby drjudy » Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:49 am

Can estrogen prevent female brain drain?

There’s no reviving a dead brain cell. Studies confirm that while available treatments can slow the decline, no interventions can restore brain function lost to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A review article in a September, 2002 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests, however, that estrogen exerts a protective effect on aging grey matter, decreasing the risk of AD by as much as one-third. Estrogen protects against rusting (oxidation) and rotting (lipid peroxidation). The hormone also protects neurons against beta-amyloid (the toxic protein that slowly chokes off brain cells as AD progresses).

The Archives article cited a study conducted at the University of Southern California which demonstrated that estrogen promotes the growth of brain cells critical to memory function. Scientists there created a hippocampal campus in a petri dish, inducing the dear little neurons from the brain's memory center to set up housekeeping in the USC lab. They then squirted conjugated equine estrogens (CEEs or Premarin) on the nerve cell colonies and watched the results under a videomicroscope. The addition of estrogen juice significantly increased little outgrowths from the cell membranes which are known to be cellular markers of memory function. In other words, the same cellular events that occur in the hippocampus of the brain during memory formation happened in these brain cell cultures when Premarin was added.

The USC investigators further studied the protective effects of estrogen and progesterone against the sort of toxic insults that send neurons sliding down the slippery slope of AD. Glutamate is an amino acid which is essential to cell function. Unfortunately, when it is present in high levels in stressed-out brain tissue (‘excitotoxicity’), glutamate can injure nerve cells. Cultured hippocampal cells were protected against glutamate toxicity by estrogen, alone, or by estrogen in combination with progesterone (Prometrium) or norethindrone (Aygestin, Activella, femhrt). However, medroxyprogesterone or MPA (Provera) not only failed to protect the little darlings when used alone, it actually canceled out the protective effects of the estrogen when the two hormones were used together on the cultured cells. MPA is the same progestin that was used in combination with Premarin (as PremPro) in the Women’s Health Initiative trial which was abruptly halted in 2002. A subsequent look at the data confirmed that the combination may be detrimental to brains as women on PremPro had a higher incidence of Alzheimer's deterioration.

Author Dr. Howard Fillit emphasized that while hormone therapy (hold the Provera, please) may reduce the risk of AD, it does not alter the clinical course of of the disease. He notes, "The lack of evidence of a role of estrogen in the treatment of AD suggests that estrogen replacement therapy/HRT should be initiated as early as possible after menopause, before the onset or the progression of the disease.”

Brain fry may cause brain freeze

Using cutting-edge technology, researchers have discovered that hot flashes may be bad for our brains (well shoot, they could’ve just asked me about that and saved a few research bucks). Investigators rolled out the SPECT machine to inspect the brains of menopausal women, some flashing, some not. Single photon computed tomography is a non-invasive imaging technique which can actually measure blood flow distribution through the aging cerebral circulation.

Not only did the women who were out of estrogen have reduced blood to the brain even when they were quietly cool, there was a further measurable decrease in flow during a flash (must’ve been all that blood was diverted to their cheeks!). Do you need further bad news? Well the SPECT vascular changes in these hot, bothered ladies was the same as that seen in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers speculate, and it’s strictly conjecture so far, that multiple hot flash episodes create physiologic stress in the brain which could initiate neurodegenerative disease.
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Postby Zero » Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:09 am

Thanks Judy, but I'm still confused.... all these news reports are saying that we don't have memory loss because of menopause, so are we all IMAGINING that our memory is getting worse?
Zero
 

Postby drjudy » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:48 pm

I disagree. I think the lack of estrogen leads to problems in the brain's memory center (the hippocampus). Studies suggest that estrogen promotes memory, especially verbal memory. I don't think that an isolated population of women on a remote Taiwanese island represents the stressful kind of environment that most menopausal women deal with. There is no doubt that estrogen is not the only problem that we deal with, but I do think that it has a brain protective function, particularly in a high stress environment that creates toxic conditions for the brain due to high levels of cortisol and glutamate. Here's a couple of other articles I've written on the subject.

Estrogen Increases Activity in the Hippocampus

One of the biggest decisions we middle-aged women make is whether or not to take supplemental hormones. Some research suggests that estrogen is good for the brain, decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but it is not yet clear how much weight to give this evidence as we consider our options. Now researchers have used PET scans, an imaging technique that looks at actual tissue function, to determine estrogen's effects on aging and memory formation. Post-menopausal women, some on estrogen, some not, were scanned at rest and again while performing memory tasks. PET scans "lit up" those areas of the brain that were active while the women dug deep through the cobwebs of their gray matter to finish the test. This same group was studied again in a similar fashion two years later. News from the hippocampus, a region of the brain integral to memory function, was good. Those old gals on estrogen had significantly greater blood flow over time to all areas involved in memory formation that the brains of women on no hormones at all. The principal investigator, Dr. Pauline Maki, had this to say, "It really gives us the first direct insight into how the brain responds to estrogen over time, and how estrogen might protect against normal and abnormal memory changes as we age."

I say anything that enhances this coed's hippocampus sounds good to me.

Stress-induced hippocampal volume loss

I've written about "excitotoxicity" before,* the toxic effects of stress chemicals such as adrenalin on nerve cells, particularly those in the hippocampus which is a brain structure responsible for memory. Unfortunately, prolonged stress can permanently affect memory; major depression is a known risk factor for the later development of Alzheimer's disease. There is good news, however, for beleaguered brains in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, antidepressants not only relieve symptoms of depression, but they are neuroprotective as well. The investigators used magnetic resonance imaging to measure hippocampal volume in 38 depressed women and compared the values with 38 controls. On average, the depressed women had a history of five depressive episodes, some of which had not treated with antidepressant drugs.

They found that hippocampal volume was reduced in depressed women. Furthermore, there was a direct correlation between hippocampal size and a history of untreated episodes of depression--the longer the women went without medication while seriously depressed, the smaller the hippocampus. Lead author Dr. Yvette Sheline notes that psychiatrists already recommend long-term treatment in persons prone to depression to prevent recurrences and goes on to add that "these apparent neuroprotective effects provide a further argument for at least strongly considering remaining on antidepressants."

*femailhealthnews.com/newsletterview.cfm?ID=468
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