Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 14th 2016 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, October 14, 2016
Those memory lapses many women notice around
menopause are real, and they can begin at a relatively
young age, researchers report.
It s common for women going through menopause
to complain of what researchers sometimes call "brain
fog"---forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating and
And while those complaints are subjective, a number
of studies have also shown they can be objectively
Researchers from Brigham and Women s Hospital,
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical
School in Boston said the new study builds on that
It found that, yes, a woman s performance on certain
memory tasks tends to dip as her estrogen levels drop---
and it happens during the average age range of
menopause: 45 to 55. Menopause is defined as when
a woman s menstrual period stops, confirmed when
she has missed her period for 12 consecutive months.
What s more, those hormone levels are related to
activity in the hippocampus, a brain region key in
Based on past studies, up to 60 per cent of women
report memory issues as they go through menopause,
said Julie Dumas, an associate professor of psychiatry
at the University of Vermont.
The new findings shed more light on what is hap-
pening in the brain during those hormonal shifts,
according to Dumas, who was not involved in the
"There really is something going on in the brain,"
she said. "You re not crazy."
The study findings were based on 200 women and
men aged 45 to 55. Researchers used standard tests
to gauge people s memory skills, along with functional
MRI scans to track their brain activity as they performed
one of the memory tasks.
On average, the study found, women with lower
levels of estradiol did worse on memory tests. Estradiol
is a form of estrogen produced by the ovaries.
And overall, postmenopausal women showed a dif-
ferent pattern of activity in the brain s hippocampus,
compared to women who were premenopausal or
going through the transition.
Again, estradiol levels seemed key: Lower levels
meant "more pronounced" changes in brain activi-
ty.There was another especially interesting finding in
the report, Dumas pointed out.
The one-third of postmenopausal women who
scored highest on the memory tests actually had brain
activity that looked like that of premenopausal
women---despite their low estradiol levels.
Why is that?
"That s the million-dollar question," said lead
researcher Emily Jacobs, who conducted the research
while at Harvard and is now an assistant professor at
the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"We d like to understand why some women see
(memory) changes around the time of menopause,
and others do not," Jacobs said.
It s possible, she explained, that some women s
brains are somehow resistant to the effects of waning
estradiol. Their brains might, for example, recruit
estrogen from sources other than the ovaries---such as
body fat or by converting testosterone.
Menopause 'brain fog' is real
memory skills tend
to drop as estrogen
levels dip, at ages
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
A drug commonly used for the prevention of allergies
and asthma someday could find new use in preventing
liver disease and reducing the need for transplants, ac-
cording to new research published in the October 2016
edition of the scientific journal Hepatology.
Led by a team of researchers at Baylor Scott & White
Research Institute in conjunction with the Central Texas
Veteran's Health Care System and Texas A&M Health
Science Center, the study found that cromolyn sodium
successfully blocked a series of cells that trigger liver
scarring (known as fibrosis), which in advanced cases
can lead to cirrhosis. The finding could most impact pa-
tients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a
chronic disease that damages bile ducts and causes se-
rious liver damage. The disease has no effective treat-
ments and leaves patients with few options beyond a
In particular, the study evaluated mast cells (MCs),
which are known to infiltrate and multiply after liver in-
jury and release histamine, which causes fibrosis. Using
a model that mimics human PSC, researchers found
that the drug successfully blocked that histamine,
which in turn reduced fibrosis. (www.sciencedaily.com)
Common asthma drug
could prevent liver disease
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