Selasa, 16 Desember 2008
By HealthLife Contributor
Love: the ultimate immune system
Love can serve as a protective agent against certain disease processes. Although we are not yet certain how or why this is true, research supports the conclusion that excellent relationships contribute to excellent health. For example, women in marriages they described as "good" have much less heart disease than those who experience high levels of stress in their relationships. Married people not only have longer lives, but also have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and even communicable diseases, such as pneumonia, when compared to the same age that are not married.
We also know from research that love can help fortify the immune system. For example, in one study, patients with ovarian cancer who reported having strong community ties and pleasurable relationships had a substantially better tumor site immune response than other patients with ovarian cancer who did not have this type of support.
Perhaps because of this immune system response, strong emotional ties can also support good health, even in times of stress. In another study, spouses in marriages described as "pleasurable" were able to lower their blood pressure even during a 12 month period of job stress.
Strengthening your trust hormones
It may be that the hormone oxytocin is partly responsible for some of these positive effects of strong relationships. Nicknamed the "trust hormone," its presence seems to have a strong influence on the ability of women to bond, and both men and women have much higher levels of the hormone in their bloodstreams immediately after orgasm. Oxytocin causes a relaxation response and can therefore lower blood pressure; it may be responsible for the decreased rates of breast cancer in women who have breastfed.
Some of the best news about oxytocin is that it may be summoned, almost at will. When couples were instructed to sit close to one another, talk and then hug, they experienced immediate decreases in blood pressure. When this behavior was continued over time, women especially showed sustained improvement in their blood pressure nearly the same as if they had taken the best prescription blood pressure medications.
Making love to a healthier body
Some of the positive health benefits from romantic relationships are likely related to frequency and regularity of sexual activity. Besides the obvious subjective benefits (that is, pleasure) of sex, research shows that physical intimacy is an important factor in sustaining health for the long term. For example, one study revealed than men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to have a lethal heart attack than men who did not. Well regarded research also indicates that frequent ejaculation may be a protective factor against developing prostate cancer. Yong adults who have sex more than once or twice a week demonstrate higher levels of important immune system antibodies than their peers who had sex less than this.
If you are thinking that your relationship cannot possibly be providing these benefits, there is even good news for you! Recent research indicated that spouses can be trained to be more supportive even during periods of life and health crisis. For example, in a study of couples who were dealing with a partner's breast cancer diagnosis; one group was given coaching to help develop emotional support skills. Another group was not given this coaching. The wives of the spouses who were given the additional help had better outcomes, specifically less distress and depression, than the control group.
Testosterone is one of the factors that affect libido. Sometimes added testosterone in the form of a cream or implant is suggested. This is not recommended by the TGA for use in women as extensive scientific data is not available. It is essential that sensitive testosterone blood levels are monitored regularly to make sure that the dose does not increase beyond the “normal” female levels. Male type side effects such as deep voice and enlarged clitoris could occur.
Because libido is dependant on so many things it is worth paying attention to them. These include what we think of our partner (if we have one), our own body image, what’s going on in our lives and our past experiences with sex. There are many good books available and a consultation with your GP or a psychologist may help.
The area of wellbeing and libido is very complex and research tells us these are likely to be influenced by psychological factors more than testosterone. A woman's individual situation, her relationship status and satisfaction, her past experience of problems and whether she is experiencing anxiety and or depression are important influences for example. As with any treatment options including hormone and testosterone therapy it is important for each woman to explore her own needs, her thoughts and experiences and seek a range of qualified opinions from reputable sources.
The average age at menopause (‘the last period’) in Australian women is 51 years, however a few women continue to have periods up until their late 50s. Perimenopause proceeds menopause for a time course of some years and is a time of variable hormone levels such that there may be sporadic symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats in addition to erratic periods. You are currently perimenopausal, however, if you have more than 12 months between periods you would be postmenopausal and if then experiencing bleeding should see your doctor for appropriate investigations to be organised, such as an ultrasound of the uterus and ovaries to make sure there is no abnormality present that is causing the bleeding.
Libido tends to be lowered in some women at the menopause or perimenopause. There are many reasons for this and some women may improve with a trial of hormone therapy or even with use of vaginal oestrogen or vaginal moisturisers to improve vaginal dryness. Again this is an important question to discuss further with your doctor.
It is very hard to have desire if you have experienced pain through a dry vagina or you might be exhausted from menopause symptoms, more moody, frustrated by all the changes or you may not want to be touched as much either. If symptoms are impacting on your libido then the first thing you can do is seek help for these. It can be helpful to know that it is actually okay to decide to have sex even though the desire is not there like it used to particularly as you sound like you have a good relationship with your husband. Deciding to have sex for the good will of the relationship or because it actually feels nice when you get started may be the incentive for sex at the moment rather than having the desire that you used to. Lubricants can be important at this time also as many women don’t feel as aroused during menopause and therefore don’t attempt sex.
is difficult to answer this question without knowing why you have been put on testosterone. Based on your question it seems that you feel it is because of menopause. Libido is a complex thing and is influenced by many factors including a woman’s lifestyle, relationship status and satisfaction, physical factors such as medications, illness and hormones, mood status and past experiences of sex. Research on testosterone in women for low libido has been mixed and inconclusive. If other factors are responsible for your low libido then it would be important to understand their influence and then maybe libido will return before menopause ends and without the use of testosterone.
ibido is sexual desire and some people will have the desire for sexual activity into their 80s and even 90s. It is very individual and differs depending on physical things like illness, hormones, relationship satisfaction, past experience and who we are.
he first thing is to treat the physical pain so please see your doctor or a gynaecologist to see if there are any other physical reasons for the pain if the cream is not working. You may be in a pain cycle where you are worried it will hurt, you tense up and think this is going to hurt and because you are so tight it does hurt. Relaxation exercises and lubricants can be helpful. It is very hard to have desire if you have experienced pain but there may be other reasons for not wanting sex - you might be exhausted from menopause symptoms, more moody, frustrated by all the changes or you may not want to be touched as much either. Your relationship sounds good so maybe go with your husband to the doctor. If you think this is more psychological see a counsellor together. You may have to go for only one or two sessions.
The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health
Q. HRT treatment assist with the weight gain that occurred around 4 years ago with the onset of symptoms. The weight gain appears to be significantly fluid retention.
HRT does not make a difference (neither an increase nor a decrease) to weight. Bloating due to fluid retention that comes and goes can be an hormonal effect and usually settles down once menopause is established.
Q. Is it better to be underweight rather than a little on the heavier side at menopause as we have heard that some of the hormones are stored in adipose tissue
A little oestrogen is made in adipose tissue, but how women experience symptoms does not seem to be affected markedly by our weight. However our overall health will benefit by being in the correct weight range.
Q. In regard to weight gain, does the metabolism slow and then settle once you've been through menopause and does it improve or can we help improve metabolism?
Most, thought not all, women put on weight in midlife. This is probably due to metabolic changes as well as lifestyle changes. Being physically active, including doing some resistance work and eating sensibly is the bottom line.
Q. I am terrified that I'll put on weight if I go on hormones
Women commonly experience a weight gain of around five kilograms in midlife. Gaining weight specifically from hormone therapy, however, is uncommon. This may occur temporarily when starting treatment, but it is usually from fluid retention and is related to the body readjusting to changing hormone levels. Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet will help to control weight and will help to reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, as well as having a range of other beneficial effects.
Senin, 08 Desember 2008
Infrared Saunas - Heat your way to Health
by Merren Callaghan More than ever, it is possible to obtain Health Spa treatments for your own home. Increasingly, advanced technology offers homeowners more compact versions of the popular steam rooms and saunas found in fitness complexes and spas across the globe. A new innovation now available is the infrared sauna which aims to offer an alternative to the traditional ’hot stove’ saunas. Doing away with the process of pouring water over hot stones, the infrared sauna uses carbon boards or infrared tubes to emit infrared heat throughout the unit. Unlike the traditional models, infrared sauna heat penetrates deeper through the skin to body tissue.
This all sounds very well but how safe are these Infrared Saunas? Does infrared heat impact negatively on the body? It may indeed seem ominous but in fact infrared is a safe form of energy. This type of sauna has been embraced by many health professionals as a possible means of reducing symptoms of various health problems. Furthermore, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, deem that this form of energy is safe for humans.
Infrared is part of the electromagnetic spectrum lying between microwave and visible light. It is the heat used in incubators to warm premature babies, used by plants for photosynthesis and growth and not to mention infrared light is what is used by remote controls to turn on the TV. Infrared is not to be confused with the harmful ultraviolet rays (UV), also on the electromagnetic spectrum. These are used by sunbeds whose use are consistently discouraged by global governing health bodies due to the strong link between UV ray exposure and skin cancer.
Encouraging research from universities and hospitals worldwide has shown that infrared saunas may indeed have substantial benefits for individuals suffering from all manner of diseases and illnesses. Recent findings from the Kagoshima University in Japan have shown that patients with Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) who were treated with these saunas benefited from increased cardiac function. The treatment was deemed both ‘safe and promising’. Considering that annually, CHF affects more people than cancer, this is indeed a propitious development for future treatments. Similarly, the infrared sauna was used in a study of patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. The Saxon University of Applied Sciences found that infrared saunas exhibited short-term post-treatment benefits and did not antagonise the disease in any way. Additionally, Dr. Sherry Rogers’ (M.D) book ’Detoxify or Die’, enthuses that the Infrared Saunas are one of the most effective means of expelling built up toxins within the body. She further claims that it is could be an alternative way of treating several diseases without medication.
Although research continues into the benefits of infrared saunas, the initial findings are very promising. In general, saunas are renowned for being beneficial to health, increasing circulation through the body’s absorption of heat and aiding the vital organs in their functioning. Therefore, recent research substantiates the view that Infrared saunas are certainly safe for human use and in addition may greatly benefit the quality of your health through regular use.
F.G Oosterveld, et al. (August 2008), ‘Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis : A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects.’
M. Miyata et al. ( October 2008), ‘Beneficial effects of Waon therapy on patients with chronic heart failure: Results of a prospective multicenter study.’
Dr. S. Rogers (December 2002), ‘ Detoxify or Die’.
Jumat, 28 November 2008
Misleading Media Coverage Of Medicine
ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2008) — Media coverage of clinical trials does not contain the elements readers require to make informed decisions. A comparison of the coverage received by pharmaceutical and herbal remedy trials, reported in the open access journal BMC Medicine, has revealed that it is rarely possible for the lay public to assess the credibility of the described research.
Tania Bubela from the University of Alberta, Canada, led a team of researchers who investigated 201 pharmaceutical and 352 herbal remedy newspaper articles, and studied the 48 pharmaceutical and 57 herbal remedy clinical trials that the stories referred to. For both complementary and mainstream medicine, stories under-reported risk and lacked any disclosure of trial funding or scientists’ conflicts of interest. Bubela said, “There were significant errors of omission of basic information such as dose, sample size and methods for randomized clinical trials. In addition, there is an under-reporting of risks, especially in the context of herbal remedies”.
The main theme of almost all articles on pharmaceutical clinical trials was the trial itself. This contrasted with articles on herbal remedy clinical trials where 63.6% focused on the trial and the other third focused on other issues such as the myriad uses for any particular herb. The main benefit cited in almost all articles was improved health or treatment options. The study found that the media is overly reliant on narratives from satisfied patients, researchers, clinicians and patient groups - without disclosing these people’s financial ties to industry and conflicts of interest.
According to Bubela, “The study is not all bad news for the media. Slowly they are beginning to report on the welcome trend of evidence based clinical trials for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal remedies. Unfortunately, the media still rely for their sources on high quality medical journals, which are more likely to report negative results about CAM and positive results about pharmaceuticals, The clinical trials in the study showed no difference in quality between herbal remedy and pharmaceutical trials, but CAM was still reported on more skeptically”.
Healthcare receives significant media attention, and CAM is no exception. Given the continued public interest in the multi-billion dollar business of CAM, this media attention is hardly surprising. The researchers conclude, “Given this well established and expanding market, it is time for journalists and editors to experiment with improving content without necessarily sacrificing narrative themes such as human interest stories. A change for the better is unlikely to result in a reduced public appetite for health news - an appetite which is increasingly sophisticated and desirous of high quality information”.