The change in estrogen doesn’t just effect fertility, scientists are beginning to understand. It also effects how the brain is protected from aging. In other women’s health news: heart attacks, genetic testing, pregnancy and breast cancer.
Women make up nearly two-thirds of patients with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., in part because they live longer than men. Now, researchers are exploring whether hormonal changes related to menopause affect the development of the disease. “The truth is that Alzheimer’s is not a disease of old age, it’s a disease of middle age,” says Lisa Mosconi, director of the Weill Cornell Women’s Brain Initiative in New York City, a research program aimed at reducing Alzheimer’s risk. “In reality, the brain changes start in mid-life.” (Reddy, 2/18)
On a sunny day in Bellevue, Wash., in June 2011, I had just completed a workout class when I experienced a bizarre sensation of intense, full-body muscle fatigue. I broke into a bone-chilling sweat. My upper left arm throbbed, a deep ache next to the bone. I was heaving for air at a rapid clip. I grew nauseated. A fist was pressing through my chest to my spine. I was 56 years old, an exercise enthusiast, a nonsmoker and a retired cardiac-care nurse. And yet I had no idea that I was having a heart attack. It felt nothing like I’d imagined. It turns out that it’s hard to recognize a heart attack as it happens. (Oliveira, 2/18)
Danielle Teuscher decided to give DNA tests as presents last Christmas to her father, close friends and 5-year-old daughter, joining the growing number of people taking advantage of low-cost, accessible genetic testing. But the 23andMe test produced an unexpected result. Ms. Teuscher, 30, a nanny in Portland, Ore., said she unintentionally discovered the identity of the sperm donor she had used to conceive her young child. The mother of the donor was identified on her daughter’s test results as her grandmother. Excited and curious, Ms. Teuscher decided to reach out. (Mroz, 2/16)
Brittney Crystal was just over 25 weeks pregnant when her water broke. It was her second pregnancy — the first had been rough, and the baby came early. To try to avoid a second premature birth, Dr. Joy-Sarah Vink, an obstetrician and co-director of the Preterm Birth Prevention Center at Columbia University Medical Center, arranged for Crystal to be transported by ambulance from her local Connecticut hospital to New York City, where Vink could direct her care. (Kodjak, 2/18)
On a cold, bright Sunday afternoon during New York Fashion Week, nearly six hundred people packed into an old building in Manhattan’s Lower East Side for an unusual lingerie show. The audience shouted exuberantly when the first model stepped onto the runway. Jaleh Panahi, of Kingston, New York, is a 73-year old practicing physician, mother and grandmother who’s had metastatic breast cancer for eight years. (Schattner, 2/17)
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