Women’s Health News

The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa focuses on Heart Health for February

With February being Heart Health Awareness Month the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group seeks to expand on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) focus on heart health. Dr. Tara Bartlett, D.O. shares some tips on what women need to be on the lookout for, along with some ideas for staying healthy.

With February being Heart Health Awareness Month the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group seeks to expand on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) focus on heart health. In this article the group shares some tips on what women need to be on the lookout for, along with some tips for staying healthy.

According to the AHA women may have a slightly lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (35 percent compared to 37.4 percent for men) but they are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than are men. As many as one out of three deaths among women are attributed to heart disease. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is the one that puts 90 percent of all women in the crosshairs for having one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

It’s all about healthy living

There is some good news in the world of facts about women and heart health – 80 percent of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented simply by making a few lifestyle changes. Becoming educated about cardiovascular disease is also important. At the top of the list of increasing a woman’s chance of surviving cardiovascular disease is learning the signs and symptoms of heart disease and heart attacks before they happen. Among the things women can to do get and stay heart healthy includes: taking up a healthy diet of whole foods (avoiding processed alternatives), keeping weight at a normal BMI level, getting plenty of exercise (at least 20 minutes a day), controlling high blood pressure if you have it, avoiding excess salt and not smoking.

Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those who have known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Making specific lifestyle changes is one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.

Signs to watch out for

When it comes to heart attacks, a cardiovascular event can be very different for women when compared to what men experience. Women’s symptoms tend to be much milder and less specific than men’s and may include seemingly innocuous symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, indigestion and weakness in the arms. Some women experience a sense of foreboding for no apparent reason. These symptoms are often missed, or dismissed, by women and misdiagnosed by health care professionals.

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about the fact that women are often treated less aggressively by medical professionals once they’ve had a heart attack. They are also reportedly less likely than men to receive medications that prevent future heart events such as beta blockers, statins and ACE inhibitors.

When women are empowered to understand the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, they have a greater opportunity to be proactive about their own healthcare. It’s more important than ever for women to be educated about heart disease, as it’s the leading cause of death for both women and men in this country.

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 website.

Risk of heart disease goes up with breast cancer treatment

Some breast cancer therapies can damage the heart and healthcare providers should carefully monitor breast cancer treatment effects on the heart. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women, are more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure rather than breast cancer.Some breast cancer therapies can damage the heart and healthcare providers should carefully monitor breast cancer treatment effects on the heart. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women, are more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure rather than breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including heart failure and may benefit from a treatment approach that weighs the benefits of specific therapies against potential damage to the heart, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association published in its journal Circulation.

The statement is an overview of what we currently know about risk factors common to both heart disease and breast cancer, the potential heart damage from some breast cancer treatments, and suggested strategies to prevent or minimize the damage. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women over the age of 65, are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, underscoring the importance of effectively managing heart disease risk factors during and following cancer treatment.

“Any patient who is going to undergo breast cancer treatment, whether they have heart disease at the beginning or not, should be aware of the potential effects of the treatments on their heart,” said Laxmi Mehta, M.D., chair of the writing group for the new scientific statement. “This should not deter or scare patients from undergoing breast cancer treatment, but should allow them to make informed decisions with their doctor on the best cancer treatment for them.”

During cancer treatments, patients should pay attention not only to their breast health, but also to their general health, including their heart, said Dr. Mehta, who is director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program and an associate professor of medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

For example, some cancer treatments, such as HER-2 targeted therapies, can cause weakening of the heart muscle, a condition known as heart failure. HER-2 is a specific type of breast cancer. In some cases, the reduction in heart function is temporary and cessation of the treatment and/or the addition of heart medicines can improve function. But in some breast cancer patients, heart failure can be permanent. Because of this, the early development of heart failure can signal a need to slow down and/or alter a patient’s breast cancer treatment because of the risk for worsening the condition or the development of permanent heart failure.

Some small studies suggest that administering common chemotherapy agents in new ways may reduce heart disease risks. Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug used in breast cancer therapy that can lead to the damage of heart cells. Studies have shown that when doxorubicin is administered slowly, rather than all at once, patients may have a lower risk of heart failure.

In addition, a drug called dexrazoxane that could reduce cell damage has recently been approved for patients with metastatic breast cancer who receive high doses of doxorubicin. More studies will need to be done to confirm whether the results of the smaller studies are seen in larger groups of patients.

Other treatments, such as radiation, can affect the heart arteries and cause the development of coronary artery disease or blockages. Some breast cancer treatment agents, such as anthracyclines, can result in abnormal heart rhythms that in some patients are benign but in others can lead to life-threatening heart rhythms. And, some treatments — like antimetabolites — can cause spasm of the heart arteries, which can cause chest pain symptoms but could lead to heart attacks as well.

Heart disease and breast cancer share a number of risk factors, including advanced age, poor diet, family history, physical inactivity and tobacco use. The fact that these diseases share some risk factors suggests that there are lifestyle choices, primarily diet and exercise, that could help decrease the risks of developing both diseases. Healthcare providers should monitor a woman’s heart health before, during and after breast cancer treatment.

Adherence to a number of ideal heart health behaviors or factors from the American Heart Association’s’ Life’s Simple 7 is associated with a trend towards a lower incidence of breast cancer. Life’s Simple 7 includes being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

“Fortunately, with the advances in breast cancer treatment, there has been a growing number of survivors. However, during and after the treatment of breast cancer, having optimal control of heart disease risk factors is important, because older breast cancer survivors are more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer,” Dr. Mehta said. “And that’s why Life’s Simple 7 is important for all patients with and without breast cancer.”

Although there are an estimated 47.8 million women in the U.S. who are living with cardiovascular diseases and approximately 3 million breast cancer survivors, many people regard breast cancer as the primary threat to women’s health. It is important to recognize the overlap of heart disease and breast cancer as both entities impact survival.

Story Source: Read this article on Science Daily: American Heart Association. “Breast cancer treatments may increase the risk of heart disease: American Heart Association scientific statement.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180201085812.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

Recent study reveals reproductive risk factors of heart disease and stroke for women

Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group talks about a new study while emphasizing that healthcare providers need to be vigilant about screening women for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group talks about a new study while emphasizing that healthcare providers need to be vigilant about screening women for cardiovascular disease.

Research containing new data on risk factors for heart attack and stroke comes from a very large study of more than half a million men and women of up to the age of 69 who were recruited between 2006 and 2010. Ultimately the health of 267,440 women and 215,088 men was tracked over the course of the study, or until participants had their first heart attack or stroke, whichever came first. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease when they entered the study. From this, more than 9,000 cases of cardiovascular disease were recorded, a third of which were in women.

Highlights of the study found higher risk factors for women who experienced:

  • periods starting before age 12 (10% increased risk)
  • early menopause (33% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, 42% of stroke)
  • pregnancy complications (up to 44% higher risk depending on factor)
  • Hysterectomy (12% cardiovascular disease, heart disease 20%)

This study was large, and the researchers determined a range of potentially influential factors (see full results here).

“This study is particularly important for healthcare providers,” explains Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa. “Routine screening for cardiovascular issues is something we do for our patients and something we might be able to target better now, given this new information. This is something every healthcare provider needs to be aware of.”

Heart Disease: a serious health factor for women

The American Heart Association says cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause one out of three deaths in women every year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases. A whopping ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke and fewer women survive heart attacks then do men.

More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, less than 50 percent of those with heart failure live a full five years following diagnosis. The deadly duo of heart disease and stroke are among the most prevalent and costly health complications today. Heart disease or stroke wreak havoc on people’s lives measured in increased medical bills, lost wages and decreased quality of living.

  • 5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States
  • 800,000 deaths occur from heart disease each year, a total of 1 in every 3 deaths – about the same number as die from cancer, respiratory disease and accidents – combined
  • 150,000 of deaths from heart disease occur in people under age 65
  • $320 billion in health care costs and lost productivity were attributed to heart disease and stroke in 2011

The top five ways to manage heart disease include; controlling high blood pressure (with the help of a healthcare provider), a daily routine of physical activity (at least 20 minutes per day), eat whole foods (avoid processed alternatives), avoid excess salt and quit smoking.

“Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those who have known risk factors for heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Emad.  “Lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.”

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 our website.

 

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.

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

A woman’s race and where on her body she packs on pounds at midlife could give her doctor valuable clues to her likelihood of having greater volumes of heart fat, a potential risk factor for heart disease, according to new research.

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

A woman’s race and where on her body she packs on pounds at midlife could give her doctor valuable clues to her likelihood of having greater volumes of heart fat, a potential risk factor for heart disease, according to new research led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The findings, published online today in the journal Menopause, show that black women who put on fat around their midsection during midlife are more likely to accumulate fat around their hearts, whereas white women’s risk of fatty hearts is higher when they add weight all over. The results echo the findings of a Pitt Public Health study three years ago in men.

BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

“Excess fat around the heart, in both men and women, is an evolving risk factor for heart disease. But how can clinicians see it at a regular physical? They can’t without a special heart scan,” said senior author Samar El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “This study, coupled with our previous study in men, gives doctors another tool to evaluate their patients and get a better sense of their heart disease risk. It also may lead to suggestions for lifestyle modifications to help patients lessen that risk.”

El Khoudary and her team evaluated clinical data, such as CT scans and blood pressure, on 524 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were in varying stages of menopause, averaged 51 years old and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

The bottom line on BMI and heart disease

After accounting for the potential health effects of lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and financial strain, the researchers determined that, not surprisingly, the more fat a women carries overall, the higher her risk for a fatty heart.

However, white women with higher body mass indexes, or BMI, which is a measure of overall body fat, had significantly more heart fat, as measured by a CT scan, than black women with the same BMI. BMI determines risk of heart disease in middle-aged women

For black women, the levels of heart fat were greater if they carried more fat in their midsection, as measured by a cross-sectional CT scan, compared with white women with the same volume of fat in their midsection.

El Khoudary’s team found that the heart fat black women with larger waistlines accumulate is closer to their hearts than the fat the white women with higher BMI’s accumulate. Fat close to the heart secretes inflammatory markers directly to the heart tissue and produces a greater detrimental effect as it expands.

“We’ve now come to very similar conclusions that show excess abdominal fat is worse for both black men and women, and a higher BMI is worse for white men and women when it comes to their odds of having more fat around their hearts,” said El Khoudary, who noted that the current analysis could not assess changes over time. “There is something going on here that warrants further investigation to determine why it is happening and what tailored interventions doctors may prescribe to help their patients lower their risk.”


Story Source: Materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Read this article on ScienceDaily: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “Risk of a fatty heart linked to race, type of weight gain in middle-aged women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 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

Malaria drug may prevent Zika virus from infecting fetus

Studying pregnant mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that Zika virus manipulates the body's normal barrier to infection, and that hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug related to chloroquine, interferes with this process, protecting the fetus from viral infection.Zika virus infects the fetus by manipulating the body’s normal barrier to infection, according to a new study of pregnant mice. Moreover, the study showed that a drug that interferes with this process protects the fetus from viral infection. That drug is already approved for use in pregnant women for other medical purposes.
Devastating consequences of Zika virus infection are suffered in the womb, where the virus can cause brain damage and sometimes death.

Studying pregnant mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have learned that the Zika virus infects the fetus by manipulating the body’s normal barrier to infection. Moreover, they showed that a malaria drug that interferes with this process protects the fetus from viral infection. That drug already is approved for use in pregnant women for other medical purposes.

“We found that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine effectively blocks viral transmission to the fetus,” said senior author Indira Mysorekar, PhD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and of pathology and immunology. “This drug already is used in pregnant women to treat malaria, and we suggest that it warrants evaluation in primates and women to diminish the risks of Zika infection and disease in developing fetuses.”

The findings are published July 10 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

In late 2015, doctors in Brazil began to notice a surge in the number of babies born with microcephaly, or unusually small heads, an indicator of neurological damage. The epidemic soon was linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which was spreading through the tropical parts of the Americas. Doctors advised pregnant women to avoid mosquito bites by wearing bug spray and long-sleeved clothing, but had little other advice to offer. There were, and still are, no drugs or vaccines approved for use in pregnant women to protect them or their fetuses from Zika infection.

The developing fetus is uniquely vulnerable to damage from infection, so the body mobilizes robust defenses to keep microbes from ever reaching the fetus in the first place. The placenta is the last line of defense. Mysorekar and others have shown that a process known as autophagy — the cellular waste-disposal pathway by which cells grind up debris, unwanted organelles and invading microbes — is an important part of the formidable placental barrier to infection. However, previous studies by Mysorekar and others have shown that Zika not only can invade the placenta, but multiply there.

To learn more about how Zika breaches the placenta, Mysorekar, postdoctoral fellow Bin Cao, PhD, and colleagues infected human placental cells with Zika virus. They found that exposure to the virus activated genes related to autophagy.

However, when the researchers treated the cells with drugs to ramp up the autophagy pathway, the number of cells infected with Zika virus increased. Drugs that suppressed autophagy resulted in fewer placental cells infected with Zika virus. In other words, the virus multiplied and spread more effectively when the researchers dialed up the barrier response, and performed more sluggishly when they dialed it down. The virus seemed to be doing a form of microbial martial arts, turning the body’s weapons to its own advantage.

Mysorekar and colleagues verified these findings using mice whose autophagy response was hobbled by low levels of a key autophagy protein. They infected two groups of pregnant mice with Zika: one in which the autophagy process was disrupted and the other in which it worked normally.

Five days after infection, the mothers with a weak autophagy response had about the same amount of virus in their bloodstreams as the mice with a normal response. However, in mice with a weak autophagy response, the researchers found 10 times fewer viruses in the placenta and the heads of the fetuses and less damage to the placentas.

“It appears that Zika virus takes advantage of the autophagy process in the placenta to promote its survival and infection of placental cells,” Cao said.

Since hydroxychloroquine suppresses the autophagy response, the researchers questioned whether it also could protect fetuses against Zika.

To find out, they repeated the mouse experiment using only mice with a normal autophagy response. Female mice at day nine of pregnancy were infected with Zika and then dosed with hydroxychloroquine or placebo every day for the next five days.

Following treatment, the researchers found significantly less virus in the fetuses and placentas from the mice that had received hydroxychloroquine. In addition, these placentas showed less damage and the fetuses regained normal growth. Both the untreated and the treated mothers had about the same amount of Zika virus in their bloodstreams, indicating that hydroxychloroquine was able to protect fetuses even when the virus was circulating through the mother.

Although hydroxychloroquine has been used safely in pregnant women for short periods of time, the researchers caution that further studies are needed before it can be used in pregnant women to fend off Zika. Pregnant women living in areas where Zika circulates may need to take the drug for the duration of their pregnancies, and the safety of hydroxychloroquine for long-term use is unknown.

“We would urge caution but nevertheless feel our study provides new avenues for feasible therapeutic interventions,” said Mysorekar, who is also co-director of the university’s Center for Reproductive Health Sciences. “Our study suggests that an autophagy-based therapeutic intervention against Zika may be warranted in pregnant women infected with Zika virus.”

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


Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. Original written by Tamara Bhandari. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Indira Mysorekar et al. Inhibition of autophagy limits vertical transmission of Zika virus in pregnant mice. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, July 2017 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20170957

Read this article on ScienceDaily: Washington University School of Medicine. “Malaria drug protects fetuses from Zika infection: Treatment prevents virus from crossing placenta to infect fetus, mouse study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170710091702.htm.

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.

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.