Entries in Hormones (8)


At Week 18, Kate Middleton’s Pregnancy Hormones Should Be Easing

LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- The raging hormones that probably made mum-to-be Kate Middleton so tired during her first trimester should have calmed down by now, experts contend. At this point in a pregnancy, hormone levels rise more slowly, which means increased energy during the day and better sleep at night.

Doctors will probably advise Middleton to sleep on her left side. Lying on her back once she’s passed into the second trimester can compress the pelvic veins, decreasing blood flow to the lower half of the body. Lying on the left side relieves this pressure and promotes normal blood flow.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News senior medical contributor and a practicing OB-GYN, says that if sleep eludes a woman at this point in her pregnancy, exercise can help her feel more relaxed and able to rest.

Avoid working out too close to bedtime, though. That, Ashton said, can rev you up.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman’s Hormone Defense to Explain Rampage Falls Short

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A Scottish woman, who blamed a driving rampage that included plowing into a man and then speeding off with him attached to her car on pregnancy hormones, has been sentenced to jail.

Lawyers for Suzanne Gilchrist, from Edinburgh, Scotland, argued that Gilchrist, a mother of one, thought she was pregnant and was “suffering hormonal imbalance” last June when she plowed her Ford Focus into 22-year-old Stuart Morris and drove 350 yards with him clinging to her car for his life, according to local media reports.

“She had thought she was pregnant and was obviously suffering some sort of hormonal imbalance, and was on such a knife-edge that she panicked,” the UK’s Daily Record quotes a lawyer for Gilchrist as saying.  “She was hysterical. She thought Mr. Morris had walked in front of her, trying to make her stop.”

Instead, a Scottish court found that the 37-year-old Gilchrist was purposely driving erratically trying to escape a security guard from a nearby store who was chasing her for shoplifting and sentenced Gilchrist to four years and three months in jail.

“You deliberately drove at the victim,” Stirling Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told Gilchrist in court.  “Your car was screeching around corners while this man feared for his life. The danger to his life was real and obvious.”

Prosecutor Emma White told the court that the security guard had tried to open the driver’s side door of Gilchrist’s car to take away her keys after he believed her to have stolen an item from the store, but Gilchrist instead sped off.

Surveillance video captured what happened next as Gilchrist drove off and right into Morris, an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Morris jumped on the hood of Gilchrist’s car to avoid injury but Gilchrist kept driving.  She was eventually forced to stop at a traffic light where the security guard caught up with her and turned off the ignition, according to the UK’s Express.

Morris was taken to the hospital on a spinal board but was later discharged and has recovered.  Gilchrist was arrested and pled guilty to assaulting Morris, failing to stop at intersections, and trying to throw Morris from her car to the danger of his life. She pled not-guilty to stealing a bottle of aftershave from the store, the Daily Record reports.

Morris, who told police he thought he was a “goner” after the incident, said of the court’s decision that the punishment was fair and that Gilchrist’s defense did not stand.

“When my girlfriend gets hormonal, she just shouts a bit. She doesn’t try to kill anyone, he told the Record.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Documentary Reveals the Good, Bad, Ugly of Menopause

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "When I think of menopause, I think of hate, pure clean hate," one woman said in the new documentary Hot Flash Havoc.

"I told my wife if she goes through menopause again, we're getting a divorce," a husband said.

Nevertheless, "you're very lucky to reach menopause," another woman said. "If you don't reach it, you have some troubles."

Hot Flash Havoc, a film of "menopausal proportions," is a documentary meant to examine menopausal symptoms, reveal the history and society's view on menopause and even question the results from an ongoing National Institutes of Health initiative, which, in 2002, discouraged women from taking estrogen plus progesterone to treat symptoms of menopause.

For some women, menopause symptoms are much more than the occasional hot flash. Depression, low libido, night sweats and panic attacks are only a few of the many indications that storm through the body of a menopausal woman.

The controversial documentary will be released to the public March 30.

The beginning of the documentary creates a playful dialogue on the experiences and expectations of menopause and menstruation.

For one woman, the roundabout way in which she was told about her feminine health left her confused for decades.

"Your Aunt Tilly is going to visit you once a month, and she's going to hang around for about 30 years," the interviewee described how her menstrual cycle was explained. "When Aunt Tilly dies, you'll know about it cause she won't come around no more. Who the hell is Aunt Tilly?"

The majority of the film documents the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy, commonly taken to curb hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It particularly criticizes a NIH Women's Health Initiative study, which, in 2002, found that women taking estrogen were at higher risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Researchers halted the clinical trial altogether in 2002 because of the noted increased risk.

Filmmakers and menopause experts interviewed in the documentary argue that the 2002 study results were misrepresented, and led millions of menopausal women to unnecessarily stop taking hormones that otherwise curbed debilitating symptoms sometimes associated with menopause.

And research released last week in the Lancet reignited this debate when a study found that estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy might lower the risk of breast cancer for some postmenopausal women. While the findings were specific to women who have had a hysterectomy, have no increased risk of breast cancer and no increased risk of strokes and blood clots, advocates of hormone therapy welcomed the results.

"Menopause has been this secret filled with shame, anxiety and confusion for centuries," said Heidi Houston, executive producer of the film. "The movie is intended to give information so every woman can make informed decisions about treating menopause and allow women to become health care advocates for themselves."

Prior to the 2002 study, some preliminary research found that the menopausal hormone therapy actually helped to decrease the risk of heart disease, but the preliminary data found the treatment did not decrease risk and put women at increased risk of some invasive breast cancers and stroke. Prior to the study results, hormones were one of the most prescribed drugs in the country.

But the use of estrogen dropped by 71 percent from 2001 to 2009, according to the North American Menopause Society.

"Women with a uterus who are currently taking estrogen plus progestin should have a serious talk with their doctor to see if they should continue it," Dr. Jacques Rossouw, acting director of the WHI at the time, explained in 2002. "If they are taking this hormone combination for short-term relief of symptoms, it may be reasonable to continue since the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks. Longer term use or use for disease prevention must be re-evaluated given the multiple adverse effects noted in WHI."

Dr. Marcia Stefanick, a researcher on the WHI study, told ABC News that the questions the initiative set out to answer were not specifically on menopause, but about the health risks and benefits of menopausal hormones for older women, "for whom they were being prescribed to prevent common diseases of aging women (i.e. heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia)."

"As it turns out, menopausal hormone therapy did not reduce heart disease in older women and it increased strokes," Stefanick said.

The treatment indeed helps to curb hot flashes. It also helps prevent vaginal dryness and preventive bone loss, she said. While temporary use of the treatment likely has mild risks, women deserve to know them, Stefanick said. And menopausal hormone therapy taken for several years has shown an even greater risk of the adverse health conditions.

But critics of the study said the patient population was skewed. While the study included more than 16,000 women ages 50 to 79, the average age of women in the study was 63. On average, women begin menopause around 51 years of age, when most women will experience the most severe of their symptoms.

"There was no question that there were more risks for women over 60 years of age," Dr. June La Valleur, director of the Mature Women's Center at University of Minnesota Medical Center, wrote in an email. "Women need to have options and to say that no one should use estrogen or estrogen/progestin therapy for menopausal symptoms is absurd."

Dr. Alan Altman, president of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health and a menopausal expert interviewed on the documentary, told ABC News, "Women were instilled with fear that wasn't necessary and they need to understand that they can let that fear go and make a good, educated decision about menopausal hormone treatment."

New WHI data came out in 2008 and found that three years after women stopped taking the hormone therapy, increased risk of heart disease diminished. But women were still at a slightly increased risk of stroke, blood clots and cancer.

As for Houston, the executive producer said the motivation for the documentary came from her own challenges in dealing with menopause and not knowing all her options.

"Menopause is a natural change that is going to happen to everyone," Houston said. "I believe we have the right to have all the information available to us so we women can make our own choices. Whatever a woman's choice is, whether she wants to take hormones or not, it doesn't matter, as long as she has the options so she can decide on how to have the best quality of life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cancer Risk Among Women Taking Contraceptives Measured in Study

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(JOHANNESBURG) -- Women who have used injectable or oral birth control in the past are at a significantly higher relative risk of invasive breast cancer, but they are at significantly lower risk of ovarian cancer, according to a new study based on black women in South Africa. As more time passed after a woman stopped using the contraceptives, her increased risk diminished.

The study, published in PLoS Medicine, pulled self-reported data from 5,702 participants with newly diagnosed invasive breast, cervical, ovarian or endometrial cancers.  There were 1,492 women in the study who served as controls. They had other types of cancers, including colon, rectal and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which are not influenced by contraceptive use.

Among the participants, 26 percent of women had used injectable hormones and 20 percent had used pills. After adjusting for confounding factors, including age, education, smoking and number of sexual partners, researchers found women were 1.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer and 1.4 times more likely to get cervical cancer than women who had never taken the contraceptives.

About 50 percent of women with breast cancer had used oral or injectable contraceptives whereas 26 percent of women with ovarian cancer had used the contraceptives and 17 percent with endometrial cancer had used them.

In women who had used birth control pills or injectable contraceptives, the cancer risk diminished with time after a woman’s last use of the birth control, the authors wrote.

Injectable contraceptives are very common among black women in South Africa, the authors noted. In the U.S., birth control pills are a more commonly used form of female contraceptive.

Hormone medications are among the most commonly prescribed and taken medications in the world. About nine percent of women ages 15 to 49 took oral contraceptive pills and four percent used injectable contraceptives or implants in 2007, according to a 2009 United Nations report. Combined injectable contraceptives provide a monthly dose of hormones to prevent pregnancy in the same way that oral contraceptives do. Brand names include Cyclofem and Novafem.

But despite the numbers, Dr. Diane Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at University of Missouri -Kansas City, said women should not necessarily be deterred from using oral or injectable hormones, in South Africa or anywhere else.

The authors of the study in South Africa did not return ABC News’ requests for comment.

“The very large benefit of contraceptives for women of reproductive age in preventing maternal deaths due to childbearing are largely overlooked by this study,” said Harper. "Any increased risk of breast or cervical cancer due to short-term use of contraceptives must be weighed by the quality of the data coming from the self-reports, by the large number of deaths prevented during childbearing, and by the multiple factors in addition to hormone exposure that play into pre-menopausal versus post-menopausal breast cancer and cervical [cancer].”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Men and Women Cut from Different Cloths, Study Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A new study finds evidence to support the theory that men and women are truly from different personality planets.

A new British study of 10,000 people found that the two genders share only 10 percent of personality traits.  The other 90 percent of the equations are poles apart.  Women have higher levels of sensitivity and warmth, while men have higher levels of emotional stability and dominance.

The reason, the study concludes? Different hormones.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hormones and Weight Among Biggest Breast Cancer Risks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A new report by the Institute of Medicine found that some environmental exposures play a well-established role in elevating breast cancer risk, while others -- such as certain chemicals -- have no impact at all, drawing its conclusions from previous research.

IOM researchers, who presented their findings at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, evaluated the impact of numerous environmental factors on the risk of developing breast cancer and found women could take a few preventive steps to possibly lower their risk. Women could, for example, avoid unnecessary medical tests that involve radiation, skip certain types of post-menopausal hormone replacement therapies, drink alcohol in moderation, exercise and maintain a healthy weight and not smoke.

Ionizing radiation from medical diagnostic tests, estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy and being overweight are well-established risk factors uncovered in previous studies, the authors found. For the purposes of their research, they determined environmental factors can be anything not determined by DNA.

But scientific evidence is less conclusive about other environmental factors, such as exposure to the chemicals benzene, 1,3-butadiene and ethylene oxide, found in such common substances as tobacco smoke and gasoline fumes.

"The epidemiologic evidence is more limited, contradictory or absent," they wrote. "Evidence from animal or mechanistic studies sometimes adds support to the epidemiologic evidence or suggests biologic plausibility when human evidence is lacking for a particular factor."

Studies on animals also suggest that chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) "suggest biological plausibility as a hazard," but findings from some other studies are contradictory.

The researchers also found that hair dyes and ionizing radiation from cell phones and other devices did not impact a woman's risk for breast cancer.

Despite their findings, the authors said since exposure varies from woman to woman, so does potential risk. Since much of the data on some of these substances are inconclusive, and exposure does vary so widely, the breast cancer community needs to develop better ways to study the impact of some environmental factors, according to the report.

Experts said while the IOM findings aren't new, they helped highlight how difficult it can be to determine breast cancer risk, since so many factors may play a role. The report, they say, also serves as further evidence that for breast cancer, the environment plays a much bigger role than genetics.

The authors hope their report leads research into a new direction, including a closer look at certain chemical exposures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hormones Make it Hard to Keep Weight Off, Study Says

Getty(MELBOURNE) -- It’s no secret that losing weight isn’t easy, and keeping the weight off can be just as challenging. Australian scientists now report that when it comes to keeping weight off for a significant period of time, biology is not on your side.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne reported that overweight or obese people who lost a significant amount of weight -- at least 10 percent of their body weight -- and kept the pounds off for one year still produced high levels of hunger-inducing hormones, giving them a biological urge to keep eating.

The scientists recruited 50 people for an intense 10-week, weight-loss program, USA Today reported. The participants consumed between 500 and 550 calories per day and lost an average of 30 pounds during the 10 weeks. Only 34 participants lost the required 10 percent of their body weight and were available for analysis one year later.

Although most of the people still weighed less than when the study began, they gained back about half of what they lost in the year after the program. When the scientists tested their blood for levels of hormones associated with appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin, they found the levels of those hormones changed in a way that made their appetites stronger than when the study began, the New York Times reports.

Dr. Lou Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said obesity researchers have noted for many years that the body’s chemicals make obesity so difficult to treat.

“It’s not that they don’t’ want to maintain their weight loss,” Aronne said. “When people go off a diet and regain the weight, blaming them for doing that is the wrong response. This is a coordinated physiological system that is designed to push weight back up.”

Obesity researchers say these hormonal responses to weight loss are not surprising when viewed through the lens of human evolution. When humans’ early ancestors lost weight, it threatened their survival, so the body developed a hormonal response to keep that from happening. Dr. Rudoph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University in New York City, told USA Today, “this is probably more or less a permanent response.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Valentine's Day Food That Will Put You in the Mood

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- The key to a woman's heart is chocolate, or more specifically, phenylethylamine.

A number of foods, including dark chocolate, contain compounds that boost that "lovin' feelin'" in the heart and in the brain.  So this Valentine's Day, cozy up with that special someone for some surprising heart-healthy treats that will get you ready for love.

Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac, but they are also a great source of libido-lifting zinc, according to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.  Zinc has been linked to improved testosterone production, which can help men get in the mood.

Another hormone-heightening food is avocado.  "Avocados are high in vitamin B6, which increases hormone production and tends to reduce erectile dysfunction in men," Jamieson-Petonic said.

Avocados have also been shown to lower the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raise the "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) variety, which can help keep the heart healthy long term.

Garlic might not be ideal for kissing, but it's great for sex.  "Garlic is high in a chemical called 'allicin,' which tends to increases blood flow to the sex organs," Jamieson-Petonic said.

Guys might also want to consider a sausage and sauerkraut, Jamieson-Petonic said, citing a study that found eating sauerkraut made men feel sexier.

It might be hard to get close right after garlic and sauerkraut, but a chocolately, nutty or fruity dessert can cleanse the pallet and sweeten the mood.

"Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which is a chemical that helps to increase your mood," Jamieson-Petonic said.  And chocolate's other mood-lifting compound, phenylethylamine, can "mimic the feeling of being in love."

Nuts are a great treat for the heart.  But almonds are an especially great source of zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and arginine, which can help increase circulation and improve erectile function, Jamieson-Petonic said.

Strawberries and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are high in folic acid and vitamin C, making them a great choice for reproductive health.

A glass of red wine with Valentine's Day dinner can also help get blood flowing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio