OB/GYN News Articles

New Study Concludes: Women have more active brains than men

Largest functional brain imaging study to date identifies specific brain differences between women and men, according to a new report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

 In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, researchers compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women.

The study findings explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and concern.
Side view of the brain summarizing blood flow results from tens of thousands of study subjects shows increased blood flow in women compared to men, highlighted in the red colored areas of the brain: the cingulate gyrus and precuneus. Men in this image have higher blood flow in blue colored areas — the cerebellum.
Credit: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern. The study also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.

In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, the Amen Clinics (Newport Beach, CA) compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, Inc., commented, “This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences. The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”

The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety. The visual and coordination centers of the brain were more active in men. SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. Images acquired from subjects at rest or while performing various cognitive tasks will show different blood flow in specific brain regions.

Subjects included 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A total of 128 brain regions were analyzed for subjects at baseline and while performing a concentration task.

Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of (ADHD), conduct-related problems, and incarceration (by 1,400%).

Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dean of the College of Sciences at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. George Perry said, “Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners.”

Story Source: Materials provided by IOS Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel G. Amen, Manuel Trujillo, David Keator, Derek V. Taylor, Kristen Willeumier, Somayeh Meysami, Cyrus A. Raji. Gender-Based Cerebral Perfusion Differences in 46,034 Functional Neuroimaging Scans. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170432

Read this article on Science Daily: IOS Press. “Women have more active brains than men: Largest functional brain imaging study to date identifies specific brain differences between women and men, according to a new report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2017.


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com#womenhearthealth

Positive pregnancy test? What’s next?

I might be pregnant, what’s next?

Experiencing early signs of pregnancy or testing positive on a home pregnancy test means it is time to consult with a physician.

Early signs that you might be pregnant include spotting, vaginal discharge, cramps, breast changes (sensitivity, soreness, and color changes), and missing your period. Of course, noting the last time you had sex without using contraception properly can also help indicate whether or not you might be pregnant. When these signs occur, most women opt to use a home pregnancy test before starting care with an OB/GYN MD or certified nurse midwife. Pregnancy tests are easy to use and readily available for purchase over the counter at drug stores.

What to do following a Positive Pregnancy Test

If you think you are experiencing any early signs of pregnancy or have tested positive on a home pregnancy test, it is important to consult a physician in order to establish care with a medical professional as early as possible. Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group offers pregnancy test visits by appointment. At your appointment, our providers will confirm the positive pregnancy with a urine pregnancy test in our office. Once we have confirmed the positive result, we will establish your care regimen and will help you plan your health maintenance throughout your pregnancy.

If your in-office pregnancy result comes back negative but you are still experiencing symptoms, we will help you schedule another appointment if needed in order to provide treatment and advice moving forward.

What to expect at your first visit:

  • A thorough physical exam and review of your medical history.
  • An ultrasound to confirm your due date (when to expect you will go into labor).
  • Blood work and standard cultures for Chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • A pap smear, unless you’ve had one recently.
  • Arrangement to consult with a specialist (if certain risk factors are present).
  • A request to see your old medical records (if needed).

Our experienced team of physicians, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners deliver comprehensive, compassionate preconception, pregnancy, and post-partum care to our patients and their families in a comfortable environment close to home.

Breast Cancer Study Results: Put that glass of wine down and get jogging!

Breast Cancer Study indicates that drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer riskBreast Cancer Study Revelations

Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

“It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol — these are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”

Brisk Walking, Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer systematically collated and evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and exercise affect breast cancer risk in the first such review since 2010. The report analyzed 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer.

The breast cancer study and report found strong evidence that drinking the equivalent of a small glass of wine or beer a day (about 10 grams alcohol content) increases pre-menopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and post-menopausal breast cancer risk by 9 percent. A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.

For vigorous exercise, pre-menopausal women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk and post-menopausal women had a 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who were the least active. Total moderate activity, such as walking and gardening, linked to a 13 percent lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.

In addition the report showed that:

  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.
  • Mothers who breastfeed are at lower risk for breast cancer.
  • Greater adult weight gain increases risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in US women with over 252,000 new cases estimated this year. AICR estimates that one in three breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active and stayed a healthy weight.

Emerging Findings: Dairy and Veggies

The breast cancer study report points to links between diet and breast cancer risk. There was some evidence — although limited — that non-starchy vegetables lowers risk for estrogen-receptor (ER) negative breast cancers, a less common but more challenging to treat type of tumor.

Limited evidence also links dairy, diets high in calcium and foods containing carotenoids to lowering risk of some breast cancers. Carrots, apricots, spinach and kale are all foods high in carotenoids, a group of phytonutrients studied for their health benefits.

These links are intriguing but more research is needed, says McTiernan. “The findings indicate that women may get some benefit from including more non-starchy vegetables with high variety, including foods that contain carotenoids,” she said. “That can also help avoid the common 1 to 2 pounds women are gaining every year, which is key for lowering cancer risk.”

Steps Women Can Take

Aside from these lifestyle risk factors, other established causes of breast cancer include being older, early menstrual period and having a family history of breast cancer.

While there are many factors that women cannot control, says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR’s Head of Nutrition Programs, the good news from this report is that all women can take steps to lower their breast cancer risk.

“Wherever you are with physical activity, try to nudge it up a bit, either a little longer or a little harder. Make simple food shifts to boost protection — substitute veggies like carrots, bell peppers or green salad for chips and crackers and if you drink alcohol, stick to a single drink or less,” said Bender.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, but it’s empowering to know you can do something to lower your risk.”


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com


Read this article on Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523084758.htm

Story Source: Materials provided by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Original written by Diane Mapes. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Diet that includes vegetable protein may protect against early menopause

Eating more vegetable protein may protect against early menopause: Study shows modest but significant lower risk in older women, linking diet menopause.Results of a new study from epidemiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggest that long-term diet that includes a high intake of vegetable protein from such foods as whole grains, soy and tofu, may protect women from early menopause and could prolong reproductive function. Diet menopause.

Consuming enriched pasta, dark bread and cold cereal were especially associated with lower risk, while they observed no similar relation to eating animal sources of protein.

“A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian aging may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset menopause and associated health conditions,” write first author and then-graduate student Maegan Boutot, with her advisor, professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson. Details appear in the current early online edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Early menopause, the cessation of ovarian function before age 45, affects about 10 percent of women and is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and early cognitive decline, the authors note. Few studies have evaluated how protein intake is associated with menopause timing, they add, and to their knowledge this is the first to look specifically at early menopause.

Boutot, Bertone-Johnson and colleagues in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst, with others, evaluated the relationship between diet and risk of early menopause among members of the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS2), an ongoing prospective study of 116,000 women aged 25-42 when they entered it in 1989.

Participants were asked to report how often they ate a single serving of 131 foods, beverages and supplements over the previous year, from “never or less than once a month” to “6+ per day.” They observed that women consuming approximately 6.5 percent of their daily calories as vegetable protein had a significant 16 percent lower risk of early menopause compared to women whose intake was approximately 4 percent of calories.

Diet Menopause

For a woman with a 2,000 calorie per day diet, the authors explain, this is equal to three to four servings of such foods as enriched pasta, breakfast cereal, tofu and nuts, or about 32.5 grams a day. They adjusted for age, smoking, body mass index and other possible confounding factors.

Boutot and Bertone-Johnson add, “Though relatively few women in our study consumed very high levels of vegetable protein and our power for analyses of more extreme intake levels was limited, women consuming 9 or more percent of their calories from vegetable protein had a hazard ratio of 0.41 (95 percent confidence interval = 0.19-0.88)” compared to those eating less than 4 percent.

Others on the study team were from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The study was supported by a grant from NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

For the NHS2, follow-up questionnaires have assessed nurses’ lifestyle behaviors and medical conditions every two years. Nearly 90 percent have continued to participate in followup. Diet was assessed five times over the 20-year study, allowing the researchers to capture within-person variation in changes in food and nutrient intake over times, Boutot explains. Participants in the study contributed more than 1 million person-years of follow-up, during which 2,041 women experienced early menopause.

Boutot and Bertone-Johnson suggest that more prospective studies of their findings are warranted, including studies that compare soy-based and non-soy vegetable proteins.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Eating more vegetable protein may protect against early menopause: Study shows modest but significant lower risk.” Read this article on ScienceDaily:  ScienceDaily, 26 June 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170626093604.htm.


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com

Menstrual cycle has no impact on how a woman’s brain functions

Levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in one's system have no impact on the working memory, cognitive bias or ability to pay attention to two things at once.A new study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience is setting out to change the way we think about the menstrual cycle. While it’s often been assumed that anyone who’s menstruating isn’t working at top mental pitch, Professor Brigitte Leeners and her team of researchers have found evidence to suggest that that’s not the case. They examined three aspects of cognition across two menstrual cycles, and found that the levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in your system have no impact on your working memory, cognitive bias or ability to pay attention to two things at once. While some hormones were associated with changes across one cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects didn’t repeat in the following cycle. Overall, none of the hormones the team studied had any replicable, consistent effect on study participants’ cognition.

Professor Leeners, team lead, said: “As a specialist in reproductive medicine and a psychotherapist, I deal with many women who have the impression that the menstrual cycle influences their well-being and cognitive performance.” Wondering if this anecdotal evidence could be scientifically proven — and questioning the methodology of many existing studies on the subject — the team set out to shed some light on this controversial topic.

The study published today uses a much larger sample than usual, and (unlike most similar studies) follows women across two consecutive menstrual cycles. The team, working from the Medical School Hannover and University Hospital Zürich, recruited 68 women to undergo detailed monitoring to investigate changes in three selected cognitive processes at different stages in the menstrual cycle. While analysis of the results from the first cycle suggested that cognitive bias and attention were affected, these results weren’t replicated in the second cycle. The team looked for differences in performance between individuals and changes in individuals’ performance over time, and found none.

Professor Leeners said, “The hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle do not show any association with cognitive performance. Although there might be individual exceptions, women’s cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle.”

Professor Leeners cautions, however, that there’s more work to do. While this study represents a meaningful step forward, larger samples, bigger subsamples of women with hormone disorders, and further cognitive tests would provide a fuller picture of the way that the menstrual cycle affects the brain. In the meantime, Professor Leeners hopes her team’s work will start the long process of changing minds about menstruation.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Frontiers. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brigitte Leeners, Tillmann H. C. Kruger, Kirsten Geraedts, Enrico Tronci, Toni Mancini, Fabian Ille, Marcel Egli, Susanna Röblitz, Lanja Saleh, Katharina Spanaus, Cordula Schippert, Yuangyuang Zhang, Michael P. Hengartner. Lack of Associations between Female Hormone Levels and Visuospatial Working Memory, Divided Attention and Cognitive Bias across Two Consecutive Menstrual Cycles. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2017; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00120

See this article on science daily:  Frontiers. “Menstruation doesn’t change how your brain works — period: Normonal changes during the menstrual cycle have no impact on aspects of cognition, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170704093610.htm.

How to always look good at the beach with Laser Hair Removal

With the arrival of summer Dr. Lela Emad of Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group discusses the advantages offered by laser hair removal.

With a heatwave bearing down on Northern California pushing temperatures to the maximum, many people are heading to the beach or hanging out at the pool. Being swimsuit ready is easy with laser hair removal.

The process of summer waxing and constantly shaving unwanted hair, then repeat – and repeat again can be a burdensome routine when all you want to do is get out, dive in and cool off. There is a way to be swimsuit ready all summer long with laser hair removal.  “Traditional methods for removing hair like shaving, tweezing and waxing can be very cumbersome and time consuming for women,” explains Dr. Lela Emad of Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group in Santa Rosa. “Laser hair reduction offers a safe and very effective medical procedure to permanently terminate hair growth from unwanted areas.”

What is Laser Hair Reduction?

Laser hair removal is actually a medical procedure that employs an intense, pulsating beam of light to remove unwanted hair. A focused laser beam passes through the skin to penetrate and essentially vaporize individual hair follicles. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle without harming surrounding skin and tissue. This process acts to inhibit future hair growth and although it may not completely guarantee permanent hair removal, over the course of a few treatments, it can provide an extended hair-free period. Periodic follow-up maintenance treatments are recommended as well.

The procedure is extremely precise and takes only a few minutes to remove hair from small areas, such as the upper lip or chin, and about an hour to treat larger areas, such as the back or legs. Laser hair reduction may require up to five sessions for optimal outcomes, and when performed properly, the procedure successfully terminates hair growth from treated areas in the vast majority of (up to 90%) of women.

Does it work for everyone?

Although anyone can undergo laser hair removal, best results depend on a person’s hair color and skin type. For example, people who have light skin and dark hair have the best results overall due to how the laser beam targets the pigment (melanin) in the hair. Advances in technology over recent years have made laser hair removal an option even for people who have darker skin.

Laser hair removal isn’t always as effective for hair colors such as white, gray, blond or even red because it’s more difficult for the laser to target that range of color,” said Dr. Emad. “Although people with lighter color hair will see results, it may not be as obvious as those with darker hair color.”

While laser hair reduction is fast and easy for patients, it is still a medical procedure that requires an experienced technician to ensure it is performed safely and effectively. The physicians at Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group carry years of experience in performing laser hair reduction and they take care to attend to any discomfort or bad reactions patients may have to the procedure.

Best outcomes for laser hair removal

Laser hair removal leaves skin smooth and soft on the underarms, legs and arms, hands, back, face, bikini area. The results are always immediate and quite lasting. And since hair follicles are essentially transformed by laser light, hair typically will not grow back as quickly as prior to the treatment and occasional touch-ups are recommended to keep the skin smooth and hair-free.

“Patients who have experienced laser technology for hair removal tend to feel better about the look of their skin, and many report experiencing an improvement in body image that gives a boost of confidence,” says Dr. Email. “Above all else, patients appreciate the convenience it provides to the grooming routine.”

About Women’s OB/GYN Laser Hair Removal

Women’s OB/GYN physicians also offer expert advice and products for general skin care and treatment. Call (707) 579-1102 to schedule an appointment and for more information about laser hair reduction and skin care offered by the group. Visit the website to learn more.

Body Image Improves After Just 30-minutes of Exercise

Just one 30-minute bout of exercise makes women feel stronger and thinner, according to a new study. And the positive effect lasts well beyond the activity itself, which may be good news for women concerned about their body image.Just one 30-minute bout of exercise makes women feel stronger and thinner, according to a new UBC study. And the positive effect lasts well beyond the activity itself, which may be good news for women concerned about their body image.

“Women, in general, have a tendency to feel negatively about their bodies,” says study senior author Kathleen Martin Ginis, professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. “This is a concern because poor body image can have harmful implications for a woman’s psychological and physical health including increased risk for low self-esteem, depression and for eating disorders. This study indicates exercise can have an immediate positive effect.”

Martin Ginis, along with her graduate student Lauren Salci, compared the body image and physical perceptions of women who completed 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise with those who sat and read. Women in the exercise group had significant improvements in their body image compared to those who didn’t exercise. This positive effect lasted at least 20 minutes post-exercise. The research team further established that this effect was not due to a change in the women’s mood, rather it was linked to perceiving themselves as stronger and thinner.

“We all have those days when we don’t feel great about our bodies,” says Martin Ginis. “This study and our previous research shows one way to feel better, is to get going and exercise. The effects can be immediate.”

Martin Ginis sees this study as a gateway to developing maximally effective body image-enhancing exercise interventions.

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one half of North American women experience some degree of body image dissatisfaction and this has become more prevalent over the last three decades.

“We think that the feelings of strength and empowerment women achieve post exercise, stimulate an improved internal dialogue,” says Martin Ginis. “This in turn should generate positive thoughts and feelings about their bodies which may replace the all too common negative ones.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Breastfeeding after a C-section may help manage pain

Breastfeeding after a cesarean section (C-section) may help manage pain, with mothers who breastfed their babies for at least 2 months after the operation three times less likely to experience persistent pain compared to those who breastfed for less than 2 months, according to new research being presented at this year’s Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva (3-5 June).

C-sections account for around a quarter of all births in the UK, USA, and Canada. Chronic pain (lasting for more than 3 months) after C-section affects around 1 in 5 mothers. It is widely accepted that breast milk is the most important and appropriate nutrition in early life, and WHO, the UK Department of Health, and US Department of Health and Human Services all recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age. But until now, little has been known about the effect of breastfeeding on a mother’s experience of chronic pain after C-section.

The study, by Dr Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno and colleagues from the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Valme in Sevilla, Spain, included 185 mothers who underwent a C-section at the hospital between January 2015 and December 2016. Mothers were interviewed about breastfeeding patterns and the level of chronic pain at the surgical site in the first 24 and 72 hours after C-section, and again 4 months later. The researchers also looked at the effect of other variables on chronic pain including surgical technique, pain in the first 24-72 hours, maternal education and occupation, and anxiety during breastfeeding.

Almost all (87%) of the mothers in the study breastfed their babies, with over half (58%) reporting breastfeeding for two months or longer. Findings showed that around 1 in 4 (23%) of the mothers who breastfed for two months or less still experienced chronic pain in the surgical site 4 months post-op compared to just 8% of those who breastfed for 2 months or longer. These differences were notable even after adjusting for the mother’s age. Further analysis showed that mothers with a university education were much less likely to experience persistent pain compared to those who were less well educated. The researchers also found that over half (54%) of mothers who breastfed reported suffering from anxiety.

The authors conclude: “These preliminary results suggest that breastfeeding for more than 2 months protects against chronic post-cesarean pain, with a three-fold increase in the risk of chronic pain if breastfeeding is only maintained for 2 months or less. Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed. It’s possible that anxiety during breastfeeding could influence the likelihood of pain at the surgical site 4 months after the operation.”

The authors are currently analyzing additional data from women interviewed between November 2016 to January 2017, which, when combined with data from all the other women, shows that anxiety is associated with chronic post Cesarean pain in a statistically significant way.


Story Source:

Materials provided by ESA (European Society of Anaesthesiology). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Read this article on Science Daily: (European Society of Anaesthesiology). “Breastfeeding may protect against chronic pain after Caesarean section.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170604115807.htm

Sunscreen use now implicated in widespread vitamin D deficiency

Results from a clinical review find nearly 1 billion people worldwide may have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D due to chronic disease and inadequate sun exposure related to sunscreen use.

Results from a clinical review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association find nearly 1 billion people worldwide may have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D due to chronic disease and inadequate sun exposure related to sunscreen use.

The study also found that 95 percent of African American adults may have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Vitamin D variations among races are attributed to differences in skin pigmentation.

“People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D,” said Kim Pfotenhauer, DO, assistant professor at Touro University and a researcher on this study. “While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D.”

Dr. Pfotenhauer also said chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and those related to malabsorption, including kidney disease, Crohn’s and celiac disease greatly inhibit the body’s ability to metabolize vitamin D from food sources.

Considered a hormone rather than a vitamin, vitamin D is produced when skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D receptors are found in virtually every cell in the human body. As a result, it plays a wide role in the body’s functions, including cell growth modulation, neuromuscular and immune function and inflammation reduction.

Symptoms for insufficient or deficient vitamin D include muscle weakness and bone fractures. People exhibiting these symptoms or who have chronic diseases known to decrease vitamin D, should have their levels checked and, if found to be low, discuss treatment options. However, universal screening is likely neither necessary nor prudent absent significant symptoms or chronic disease.

Increasing and maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can be as easy as spending 5-30 minutes in midday sun twice per week. The appropriate time depends on a person’s geographic location and skin pigmentation — lighter skin synthesizes more vitamin D than darker skin. It is important to forgo sunscreen during these sessions because SPF 15 or greater decreases vitamin D3 production by 99 percent.

“You don’t need to go sunbathing at the beach to get the benefits,” said Dr. Pfotenhauer. “A simple walk with arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.”

Food sources such as milk, breakfast cereals, and Portobello mushrooms are also fortified with vitamin D. Dr. Pfotenhauer said supplements are a good option, as they are effective and pose few risks, provided they are taken as directed and a physician is consulted beforehand.

Research is ongoing to determine whether vitamin D deficiency has a role in multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, infections, respiratory disease, cardiometabolic disease, cancer, and fracture risk.

“Science has been trying to find a one-to-one correspondence between vitamin D levels and specific diseases,” said Dr. Pfotenhauer. “Given vitamin D’s ubiquitous role in the body, I believe sufficient vitamin D is more about overall health. Our job as osteopathic physicians is to recognize those patients that need to be tested and treat them accordingly.”

Currently, insufficiency is defined as between 21 and 30 ng/ml and deficiency is considered below 20ng/ml by the Endocrine Society.


Story Source: Materials provided by American Osteopathic Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Read this article on Science Daily: American Osteopathic Association. “Widespread vitamin D deficiency likely due to sunscreen use, increase of chronic diseases, review finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170501102258.htm.

May is the Month for Women – A good time to focus on Women’s Health

In honor of Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week Dr. Lela Emad of Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group offers timely insights for staying healthy.

With the goal of empowering women to make health a priority, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office celebrates National Women’s Health Week beginning on May 14th – which is also Mother’s Day. This weeklong event is offered to encourage women to take steps to improve health with a focus on annual screenings, lifestyle choices and prevention.

“It is certainly important for women to be vigilant about testing for conditions that are most successfully treated when caught early, including breast cancer and colon cancer. And, another good way to stay healthy is to have routine check-ups to screen for the basic health concerns,” says Dr. Lela Emad obstetrician & gynecologist. “Heart disease is still the top killer of women in the U.S. therefore it is equally important for women to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels and to be aware of any potential for diabetes.”

Life expectancy in the U.S. for women now averages a full eight decades – barring accidents or major health issues. With all that living to look forward to, it’s a good idea to adopt healthy habits as early in life as possible. A look at the trends to better health reveals that there are some very simple ways to optimize health, and make life worth living.

Schedule an Appointment

One important step consists of scheduling a visit to a healthcare provider for a well-woman checkup that includes preventive screenings. Health professionals recommend adolescent girls and women start routine, annual gynecologic visits around the age of 14 unless otherwise indicated by their general practitioners. These important checkups give women an opportunity to discuss both gynecologic and general health concerns. This type of screening can include the following:

  • Blood pressure, Height, Weight
  • Lipid Panel (cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Breast Cancer Screening
  • Cervical Cancer Screening
  • A hemoglobin test, an indicator for anemic
  • Pap & HPV tests

Exercise – Be more active!

Sitting for prolonged periods at a desk or in front of the computer may be a necessity for many a woman’s livelihood, but it’s not good for the body. Research shows that women who sit for more than six hours a day have a 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause when compared to women who sit for fewer than three hours—regardless of their fitness levels.

Exercise is hands-down the best thing both men and women can do to improve health. And the best way to get fit and stay fit is to get moving. Exercise increases energy and releases endorphins—which in turn increases a person’s happiness quotient. Several recent studies indicate that staying active is associated with a longer life expectancy.

Exercise doesn’t need to be drudgery, a good way to incorporate a routine that endures the test of time is to choose activities that are fun. Simply going for a 20-minute walk with a friend is extremely beneficial to overall healthfulness. Just 2.5 hours weekly (about 20 minutes a day) of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking provides all the major health benefits a body needs to stay healthy.

Eating for Life

Research proves that eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest way to improve overall healthfulness. A vegetable-rich diet can help protect the body from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia and a variety of cancers – and it might also slow down the aging process. In fact, one study found that people who consume at least seven portions of fresh vegetables and fruit each day have as much as 42 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat one portion or less.

Breast Health

Routine breast exams and general awareness of how to maintain breast health are important elements in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for women. Screening methods such as regular self-breast exams, breast checks during routine gynecologic exams, and screening mammographies can all help to detect breast problems early-on.

For National Women’s Health Week, the office of Women’s Health US Dept. of Health & Human Services also recommends that women pay attention to mental health, get plenty of sleep and take steps every day to manage stress. And, of course avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit the Women’s OB/GYN website.