Discontinuance of Hormone Therapy May Be Hazardous to the Heart

Discontinuance of Hormone Therapy May Be Hazardous to the Heart

A new study demonstrates that the risk of cardiac and stroke death actually increases in the first year after discontinuation of HT.
Hormone therapy (HT) continues to be a hotly debated topic. The benefits of estrogen to the heart, however, appear to be universally accepted. A new study demonstrates that the risk of cardiac and stroke death actually increases in the first year after discontinuation of HT. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Since publication of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial data, there has been significant disagreement over the various risks and benefits of HT. What remains relatively unchallenged is the fact that estrogen has rapid beneficial vascular effects and that shorter periods between the onset of menopause and the initiation of HT provide greater protection against cardiovascular disease. This beneficial relationship between HT and protection against heart disease has led to the speculation that withdrawal from HT could result in clinically significant changes in arterial function. Although previous studies have shown that termination of estradiol-based HT led to significant increases in the risk of cardiac and stroke deaths, particularly during the first year, these results were questioned because women with documented heart problems had not been excluded from the study.

This study, however, involving more than 400,000 Finnish women excluded women with prior cardiac or stroke events. The results of the study, published in the article “Increased cardiac and stroke death risk in the first year after discontinuation of postmenopausal hormone therapy,” showed that discontinuation of HT was associated with an increased risk of cardiac and stroke death during the first posttreatment year, especially in women who discontinued HT aged younger than 60 years. This increased risk was not observed in women aged 60 years or older at the time of discontinuation.

“Since the initial Women’s Health Initiative reports, studies have shown that hormone therapy has many benefits and is safer than originally thought. This is especially true for symptomatic menopausal women younger than age 60 and within 10 years of menopause, as these women had fewer heart events and less risk of mortality,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “This new study suggests that younger women may have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke during the first year of discontinuation. Thus, women and their healthcare providers need to consider the benefits and risks of starting and stopping hormone therapy before making any decisions.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Read this article on ScienceDaily.com: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Risk of cardiac and stroke death increases after discontinuing hormone therapy: Highest risk occurs in first year after discontinuation, especially in women aged younger than 60 years.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171108124156.htm.

New Study Asks: Do women prefer annual mammograms?

Women prefer to get their mammograms every year, instead of every two years, according to a new study.

Women prefer to get their mammograms every year, instead of every two years, according to a new study.

“Women understand that yearly mammograms have been shown to save lives and do not consider previously reported ‘harms’ to be as important as getting screened,” said study author Ghizlane Bouzghar, M.D., chief radiology resident at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

For years, the standard recommendation among most medical groups was that women at average risk of breast cancer undergo screening mammography annually beginning at age 40. However, in 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a controversial recommendation that women at average risk be screened biennially, or every two years, beginning at age 50. This recommendation, reaffirmed in 2016, was based in part on the “harms” associated with screening mammography.

These “harms,” as defined by the USPSTF, include diagnosis and treatment of noninvasive and invasive breast cancers that would otherwise not have become a threat to a woman’s health and the unnecessary biopsies and associated anxieties resulting from false-positive results.

Others argue that while reducing over-diagnosis and false positives are a priority, the benefits of early detection far outweigh the negative factors associated with the perceived harms. Absent from the debate has been one notable opinion: that of the women being screened.

“The USPSTF associates annual screening mammography with ‘harm’ and recommends biennial screening mammography instead,” Dr. Bouzghar said. “However, there is no study to date that looked at women’s preference regarding annual versus biennial screening mammography, and whether women think that biennial screening causes less, equal or more anxiety.”

Dr. Bouzghar and colleagues at Einstein set out to determine whether women preferred annual or biennial screening and to investigate whether or not reported harms of mammography influenced this preference.

The research team surveyed 731 women (mean age 59) undergoing screening and diagnostic mammograms at Einstein from December 2016 to February 2017. Women were asked whether an abnormal mammogram or breast biopsy causes emotional harm, whether screening every two years was associated with less or more anxiety, and whether they preferred to have a screening mammogram every other year or every year.

Variables such as the patient’s age, race, family and personal history of breast cancer, prior biopsies and abnormal mammograms, and underlying anxiety disorder were also included.

Of the women surveyed, 71 percent preferred getting screened every year. A family history of breast cancer and prior breast biopsy were the only two variables to have an additional positive influence on annual screening preference.

“Many women are much better educated about the value of screening mammography than they are given credit for,” Dr. Bouzghar said. “I also think that some of the USPSTF’s concerns about the ‘harms’ were somewhat paternalistic, and in 2017 women are more empowered about many things, including their healthcare.”

Co-authors on the study are Debra S. Copit, M.D., and Justin R. Overcash, M.D.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Radiological Society of North America. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Read this article on Science Daily: Radiological Society of North America. “Women prefer getting mammograms every year.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171122151037.htm.

Fewer Cesarean Deliveries Associated with Midwife-Attended Hospital Births

Women who gave birth at hospitals with a larger percentage of midwife-attended births were less likely to have two specific medical interventions, cesarean delivery and episiotomy, a new, hospital-level analysis. These findings raise the possibility that greater access to midwifery care, which is low in the United States, might enhance perinatal care and lower costs for low-risk women.

In a new, hospital-level analysis by health policy researcher Laura Attanasio at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Katy Kozhimannnil at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, they report that women who gave birth at hospitals that had a larger percentage of midwife-attended births were less likely to have two specific medical interventions, cesarean delivery and episiotomy.

Attanasio, an assistant professor of health policy and management at UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, explains that a growing body of research at the individual level has shown that compared to women cared for by physicians, women considered at low-risk for complications in childbirth who receive care from midwives have good outcomes that include lower use of interventions such as cesarean delivery.

The researchers analyzed hospital-level data reported in New York State over one year. Details appear in the current Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. Their study analyzes the experiences of individual women; an accompanying policy brief looks at hospital rates of medical interventions at the time of childbirth.

The authors say their findings raise the possibility that greater access to midwifery care, which is low in the United States, might enhance perinatal care and lower costs for low-risk women. In 2014, the year of the study, Attanasio and Kozhimannil point out that midwives attended just 9 percent of U.S. births, compared to more than 66 percent in other western countries such as Australia, France and the U.K.

They add, “More midwife-attended births may be correlated with fewer obstetric procedures, which could lower costs without lowering the quality of care. This raises the possibility of improving value in maternity care through greater access to midwifery care for childbearing women in the United States.”

The researchers used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Database data for New York and New York State Department of Health data on the percentage of midwife-attended births at hospitals in the state in 2014 to estimate the association between the hospital-level percentage of midwife-attended births and four outcomes among low-risk women: induced labor, cesarean delivery, episiotomy and severe obstetric morbidity — that is, unintended outcomes of labor or delivery that have significant negative effects on the mother’s health.

Of the 126 hospitals included, the researchers say, about 25 percent of the hospitals had no midwives present. About 50 percent had some midwives present, but they attended less than 15 percent of births, while at 7 percent of the hospitals, midwives attended over 40 percent of births. They controlled for such variables as mother’s age, insurance type, and diagnosis of diabetes and hypertension.

Key findings were:

  • Women who gave birth at hospitals with more midwife-attended births had lower odds of delivering by cesarean and lower odds of episiotomy.
  • Hospital-level percentage of midwife-attended births was not associated with changes in labor induction or severe obstetric morbidity.

Attanasio says, “This study is contributing to a body of research which shows that good outcomes for women at low risk in childbirth go hand-in-hand with lower use of medical procedures. And, there is increasing attention now to overuse of cesarean and other procedures that are not resulting in better outcomes for mom and baby.”

Kozhimannil adds that the findings imply that a greater midwifery presence may have important clinical benefits. “From a policy perspective, this study should encourage legislators and regulators to consider efforts to safely expand access to midwifery care for low-risk pregnancies,” she notes.

Several states are considering expanding midwives’ scope of practice as New York State did in 2010 for certified nurse midwives, Attanasio says. “I hope that this work contributes to the evidence related to promoting the quality and value in maternity care that midwives can bring. A number of studies have shown that expanding their scope of practice and giving midwives more autonomy can increase women’s access to midwifery care.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura Attanasio, Katy B. Kozhimannil. Relationship Between Hospital-Level Percentage of Midwife-Attended Births and Obstetric Procedure Utilization. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/jmwh.12702

Read this article on ScienceDaily: University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Midwifery care at hospitals is associated with fewer medical interventions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116132736.htm.

Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group Celebrates an Ironwoman Among the Ranks

It isn’t every day that someone on our staff competes in the Ironman World Championships. Cecelia  Rondou, CNM, of the Women’s OB/GYN (far right in above photo), competed in this grueling triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 14.

Cecelia began running, swimming and biking seriously many years ago and along the way, inspired her colleagues to join her. Dr. Lela Emad and Suzanne Saunders, CNM frequently train with Cecelia. Others on the OB/GYN staff provide volunteer support in a variety of ways.

Cecelia, who trains year-round with a professional coach, has qualified and competed in these championships for the past 15 years. She has the distinction of being the only athlete in her age group to fully complete the course each time. Here is an excerpt from an article titled “Kona-Bound From St. George” on the Ironman website:

Cecilia Rondou, 62, went to St. George with the goal of qualifying for Kona, but with the ever-constant wind, she redirected her focus to making each time cut-off. Late into the run, her crew told her she was the only one left in her age group on the course. A quick bit of math and she knew it would be close but doable. With nine-minutes to spare (16:51:13) Cecilia was the oldest female finisher of the day.

The hardest part of competing in events such as this, is finding time to train when you have such a busy schedule, but the satisfaction of challenging and improving yourself pays off in the results. Let’s congratulate Cecelia who lives the Ironman mantra every day: Anything is Possible!

Pesticide residue on produce may affect fertility


Eating more fruits and vegetables with high-pesticide residue was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment for women using assisted reproductive technologies, report researchers.
The JAMA Network Journals reports that eating more fruits and vegetables with high-pesticide residue was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment for women using assisted reproductive technologies, report researchers.
Is preconception intake of fruits and vegetables with pesticide residues associated with outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies?

Animal studies suggest ingestion of pesticide mixtures in early pregnancy may be associated with decreased live-born offspring leading to concerns that levels of pesticide residues permitted in food by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may still be too high for pregnant women and infants.

325 women who completed a diet questionnaire and subsequently underwent cycles of assisted reproductive technologies as part of the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study at a fertility center at a teaching hospital in Boston between 2007 and 2016 by Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D., of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues.

Researchers categorized fruits and vegetables as having high or low pesticide residues using a method based on surveillance data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They counted the number of confirmed pregnancies and live births per cycle of fertility treatment.

This is an observational study. In observational studies, researchers observe exposures and outcomes for patients as they occur naturally in clinical care or real life. Because researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings so they cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Results of the study indicate that eating more high-pesticide residue fruits and vegetables (for example, strawberries and raw spinach) was associated with a lower probability of pregnancy and live birth following infertility treatment. Eating more low-pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was not associated with worse pregnancy and live birth outcomes.

Limitations of the study include that the study estimated exposure to pesticides based on women’s self-reported intake combined with pesticide residue surveillance data rather than through direct measurement. The study also cannot link specific pesticides to adverse effects.

“In conclusion, intake of high-residue FVs [fruits and vegetables] was associated with lower probabilities of clinical pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing infertility treatment. Our findings are consistent with animal studies showing that low-dose pesticide ingestion may exert an adverse impact on sustaining pregnancy. Because, to our knowledge, this is the first report of this relationship to humans, confirmation of these findings is warranted.”


Story Source:Materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yu-Han Chiu, Paige L. Williams, Matthew W. Gillman, Audrey J. Gaskins, Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Irene Souter, Thomas L. Toth, Jennifer B. Ford, Russ Hauser, Jorge E. Chavarro. Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake From Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assisted Reproductive Technology. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5038

Read this article on sciencedaily.com www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030112401.htm

Can IUDs Protect Against Cervical Cancer?

IUD use is associated with a dramatic decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer, a new study has found.IUD use is associated with a dramatic decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer, a new study has found.

Considered a safe and highly effective contraception method, intrauterine devices (IUDs) may also be quietly offering protection against the third-most common cancer in women worldwide. A new study from the Keck School of Medicine of USC has found that IUD use is associated with a dramatic decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer.

The systematic review, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology on Nov. 7, is the first to combine data from multiple studies on IUDs and cervical cancer. The analysis included data from 16 high-quality observational studies involving more than 12,000 women worldwide. Results showed that in women who used an IUD, the incidence of cervical cancer was a third lower.

“The pattern we found was stunning. It was not subtle at all,” says the study’s lead author, Victoria Cortessis, PhD, associate professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School. “The possibility that a woman could experience some help with cancer control at the same time she is making contraception decisions could potentially be very, very impactful.”

Averting a looming global health crisis

The number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer is steadily rising. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 528,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide in 2012, and 266,000 women died from the disease. By 2035, the WHO projects that those numbers will climb to more than 756,000 and 416,000, respectively.

For women in developing countries, where cervical cancer prevention resources such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or regular cervical screenings are scarce, and where populations are increasing rapidly, a contraceptive that offers protection against cervical cancer could have a profound effect, Cortessis explains.

“A staggering number of women in the developing world are on the verge of entering the age range where the risk for cervical cancer is the highest — the 30s to the 60s. Even if the rate of cervical cancer remains steady, the actual number of women with cervical cancer is poised to explode,” Cortessis says. “IUDs could be a tool to combat this impending epidemic.”

Should gynecologists begin recommending IUDs for protection against cervical cancer?

Not quite yet, but it could be on the horizon. Understanding the mechanism of action behind the protective effect of IUDs is the next logical step, Cortessis says. Some scientists speculate that the placement of an IUD stimulates an immune response in the cervix, giving the body an opportunity to fight an existing HPV infection that could one day lead to cervical cancer. Another possibility is that when an IUD is removed, some cervical cells that contain HPV infection or precancerous changes may be scraped off.

“If we can demonstrate that the body mounts an immune response to having an IUD placed, for example, then we could begin investigating whether an IUD can clear a persistent HPV infection in a clinical trial,” explains gynecologic oncologist and study coauthor Laila Muderspach, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School. “The results of our study are very exciting. There is tremendous potential.”


Story Source: University of Southern California – Health Sciences. “IUDs may have a surprising benefit: Protection against cervical cancer.” Read this article on ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171107180111.htm

Dr. Melissa Seeker joins The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa

Dr. Melissa A. Seeker joins the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group to become part of a unique team of highly skilled healthcare professionals.

Dr. Melissa A. Seeker has joined Santa Rosa’s preeminent Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group. She is an alumnus of Saint Louis University where she graduated as a member of Alpha Sigma Nu with honors prior to receiving her MD at Creighton University School of Medicine. She served as Chief Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine – Phoenix, formerly Banner University Medical Center, where she underwent her residency training.

Dr. Seeker holds many awards and honors in her specialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology including the Award for Excellence in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery from the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine – Phoenix. During her medical training, she spent six weeks in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia providing care to over 3,500 patients with a small medical team. Her resident research project in minimally invasive surgery was selected for presentation at the Society for Gynecologic Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting. Dr. Seeker also received advanced certification in integrative medicine after completing an elective course from The University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Seeker has special interest in pregnancy education and has volunteered her services to worthy organizations and outreaches specializing in gynecologic care. She is happily married and the proud owner of two boxer dogs and one cat. Outside of medicine, she enjoys traveling, scuba diving, camping, hiking, cooking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

“We are delighted to welcome Melissa to our growing practice,” says Dr. Lela Emad M.D. “Dr. Seeker is a talented and caring physician whose expertise will enhance our services to women in very positive ways.”

About the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group

As recognized leaders in their field the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group has offered a full range of premier obstetrics and gynecology services and expertise to women in the North Bay area for more than 25 years. The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in the Santa Rosa region. As women proudly serving women, this unique group understands patient needs and expectations like no other.

Along with Dr. Seeker, the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group’s staff of physicians includes; Lela Emad, MD, Shazah Khawaja, M.D., Amita Kachru, M.D.,  Susan Logan, M.D. and Tara Bartlett M.D. Together, these doctors share a unique whole-body approach to medicine as they work to discover the underlying causes of a woman’s health problems, rather than simply treating the symptoms. Every one of the health professionals at Women’s OB/GYN is committed to both alleviating short-term ailments and maximizing long-term health.

The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. To learn more about these fine physicians and the many services provided by the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group visit the website. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Seeker, please call: (707) 579-1102.

How do women stay heart healthy? Go bananas!

Bananas and avocados -- foods that are rich in potassium -- may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

Bananas and avocados — foods that are rich in potassium — may help protect against pathogenic vascular calcification, also known as hardening of the arteries.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have shown, for the first time, that reduced dietary potassium promotes elevated aortic stiffness in a mouse model, as compared with normal-potassium-fed mice. Such arterial stiffness in humans is predictive of heart disease and death from heart disease, and it represents an important health problem for the nation as a whole.

The UAB researchers also found that increased dietary potassium levels lessened vascular calcification and aortic stiffness. Furthermore, they unraveled the molecular mechanism underlying the effects of low or high dietary potassium.

Such knowledge of how vascular smooth muscle cells in the arteries regulate vascular calcification emphasizes the need to consider dietary intake of potassium in the prevention of vascular complications of atherosclerosis. It also provides new targets for potential therapies to prevent or treat atherosclerotic vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.

A UAB team led by Yabing Chen, Ph.D., UAB professor of pathology and a Research Career Scientist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, explored this mechanism of vascular disease three ways: living mice fed diets that varied in potassium, mouse artery cross-sections studied in culture medium with varying concentrations of potassium, and mouse vascular smooth muscle cells grown in culture medium.

Working from living mice down to molecular events in cells in culture, the UAB researchers determined a causative link between reduced dietary potassium and vascular calcification in atherosclerosis, as well as uncovered the underlying pathogenic mechanisms.

The animal work was carried out in the atherosclerosis-prone mouse model, the apoliprotein E-deficient mice, a standard model that are prone to cardiovascular disease when fed a high-fat diet. Using low, normal or high levels of dietary potassium — 0.3 percent, 0.7 percent and 2.1 percent weight/weight, respectively, the UAB team found that the mice fed a low-potassium diet had a significant increase in vascular calcification. In contrast, the mice fed a high-potassium diet had markedly inhibited vascular calcification. Also, the low-potassium mice had increased stiffness of their aortas, and high-potassium mice had decreased stiffness, as indicated by the arterial stiffness indicator called pulse wave velocity, which is measured by echocardiography in live animals.

The different levels of dietary potassium were mirrored by different blood levels of potassium in the three groups of mice.

When researchers looked at arterial cross-sections in cultures that were exposed to three different concentrations of potassium, based on normal physiological levels of potassium in the blood, they found a direct effect for the potassium on arterial calcification within arterial rings. Arterial rings in low-potassium had markedly enhanced calcification, while high-potassium inhibited aortic calcification.

“The findings have important translational potential,” said Paul Sanders, M.D., professor of nephrology in the UAB Department of Medicine and a co-author, “since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake.”

Mechanistic details

In cell culture, low potassium levels in the culture media markedly enhanced calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells. Previous research by several labs including Chen’s group has shown that calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells resembles the differentiation of bone cells, which leads to the transformation of smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells.

So the UAB researchers tested the effect of growing vascular smooth muscle cells in low-potassium cell culture. They found that the low-potassium conditions promoted the expression of several gene markers that are hallmarks of bone cells, but decreased the expression of vascular smooth muscle cell markers, suggesting the transformation of the vascular smooth muscle cells into bone-like cells under low-potassium conditions.

Mechanistically, they found that low-potassium elevated intracellular calcium in the vascular smooth muscle cells, via a potassium transport channel called the inward rectifier potassium channel. This was accompanied by activation of several known downstream mediators, including protein kinase C and the calcium-activated cAMP response element-binding protein, or CREB.

In turn, CREB activation increased autophagy — the intracellular degradation system — in the low-potassium cells. Using autophagy inhibitors, the researchers showed that blocking autophagy blocked calcification. Thus, autophagy plays an important role in mediating calcification of vascular smooth muscle cells induced by the low-potassium condition.

The roles of the CREB activation and autophagy signals were then tested in the mouse artery cross-section and living-mouse models, with low, normal or high levels of potassium in the media or diet. Results in both of those systems supported the vital role for potassium to regulate vascular calcification through calcium signaling, CREB and autophagy.

Besides Chen and Sanders, co-authors of the paper, “Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness,” published in JCI Insight, are Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon and Youfeng Yang, UAB Department of Pathology; Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia and Anupam Agarwal, UAB Department of Medicine; and Hui Wu, UAB Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Sanders, Agarwal and Chen are also members of the Research Department, Veterans Affairs Birmingham Medical Center.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong Sun, Chang Hyun Byon, Youfeng Yang, Wayne E. Bradley, Louis J. Dell’Italia, Paul W. Sanders, Anupam Agarwal, Hui Wu, Yabing Chen. Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness. JCI Insight, 2017; 2 (19) DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.94920

Read this article on ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005102712.htm.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Ensure a Lifetime of Breast Health

In this article Dr. Shazah Khawaja MD  of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa focuses on empowering women for Breast Cancer Awareness month by highlighting breast cancer prevention strategies.

We believe that when a woman understands the facts about breast cancer she becomes empowered to take the necessary steps towards prevention. Breast health.During October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group is focusing on empowerment through knowledge leading to healthy choices. “We believe that when a woman understands the facts about breast cancer she becomes empowered to take the necessary steps towards prevention. By working to detect the disease in its early stages, a woman is able to make lifestyle changes to reduce the odds of developing the disease in the first place,” explains Dr. Shazah Khawaja, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist.

Despite decades of pursing an all-out cure and national efforts aimed at education and prevention, breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women in the United States, second only to skin cancer. Today millions of women are surviving the disease, thanks in part to early detection, improvements in treatment and by enacting healthy lifestyle choices.

The First Step in Staying Healthy

Experts agree that the key to not only surviving a breast cancer diagnosis, but to thriving for years afterwards is early detection followed by early treatment. Routine breast exams and general awareness of how to maintain breast health are both important elements in staying healthy. Practitioners at the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group encourage routine screening including regular self-breast exams, breast checks during annual gynecologic exams, and screening mammography – all approaches that help to detect breast problems early-on.  “I routinely tell my patients that when we have the opportunity to catch and treat breast problems early, we have a better shot of ensuring the treatment will be successful,” says Dr. Khawaja.

Understanding Breast Cancer Risks for Better Outcomes

Although a having a higher risk for developing the disease may be frightening, it is also true that women who have one or more risk factors for developing breast cancer, never actually develop the disease. With increased awareness about the risk associated with certain factors – particularly those that revolve around lifestyle choices that can be changed – women of all risk levels can become empowered to make better choices.

Some risk factors such as age, genetics or race obviously cannot be changed. Other factors including environment, can also be difficult to modify. While some factors influence risk more than others, a person’s risk for developing breast cancer can change naturally due to aging and by making certain changes in habits and daily practices.

According to the American Cancer Society there are several factors that can affect a woman’s breast cancer risks including:

  • Having children after age 30 (shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in some cases).
  • Birth Control (oral and injectable contraceptives stand out in studies as contributors to breast cancer).
  • Alcohol consumption (the more consumed, the higher the risk).
  • Weight (women who carry extra pounds have a higher risk for developing breast cancer, primarily due to the higher insulin levels that accompany obesity).
  • Smoking (evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women).

Known Factors that Lower Risk:

Researchers continue to pursue the link between diet and breast cancer risk and many studies actually indicate that diet does play a role. More and more studies cast a wary eye towards red meat consumption, and there is an increased risk associated with high-fat diets, which perpetuates weight gain and obesity (a known breast cancer risk factor).

There may be sure way to prevent breast cancer as of yet, but there are things women can do to help lower the risk. A short list of actions includes;

  • Breast Feeding – for women who breast feed for 1.5 to 2 years studies suggest that there may be some benefit in reducing breast cancer risk
  • Physical Activity – a growing body of evidence indicates that a person’s risk of developing almost any cancer, particularly breast cancer is reduced by adopting a daily routine of physical activity. For example, as little as 1.25 hours of moderate physical activity per week may reduce the risk by up to 18 percent according to some studies.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy – Combination hormone therapy for more than five years is known to increase the risk of breast cancer. If you and your healthcare provider decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose possible.

How OB/GYN Providers Can Help

Self-check breast exams are easy to perform in the home and should be conducted monthly in addition to annual breast exams with a physician at Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group. Depending on a patient’s age and individual health, we may recommend a more frequent interval of regular check-ups with a health care provider. And of course, if you suspect a breast health problem contact a provider immediately.

About the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group

Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group’s staff of physicians include; Lela Emad, MD, Shazah Khawaja, MD, Amita Kachru, MD, and Susan Logan, MD along with two new providers; Tara Bartlett, D.O and Melissa A. Seeker, M.D. Together, these doctors share a unique whole-body approach to medicine as they strive to find the underlying causes of a woman’s health problems, rather than simply treating the symptoms. The expanded team of health professionals including Certified Nurse-Midwifes and Nurse Practitioners is committed to both alleviating short-term ailments and maximizing long-term health. The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. To learn more visit our website or to call for an appointment dial (707) 579-1102.

OB/GYN Offices Now Open

To all Women’s OB/GYN patients: Our offices are currently open at 500 Doyle Park Drive, Suite #103 in Santa Rosa.

Please note: Patients who go into labor are advised to go to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.