Throughout life women undergo various major life transitions such as menarche (onset of first period), sexual initiation, perhaps pregnancy, and menopause. The hormonal changes that lead to the end of the reproductive period, marked by menopause, require physical, psychological and emotional adaptations.
Today we’ll review some scientific articles published in the last several weeks about menopause First, regarding the relationship between lifestyle and menopause; second, the benefits of soy consumption in the control of the hot flashes common during menopause; third, how menopause can affect memory.
Published in American Journal of Epidemiology, from the Institute of Cancer Research, UK, the first study shows how the lifestyle of young adults can influence the age at which women enter menopause. The factor that had the strongest influence was smoking, and women who smoked in youth entered menopause two years earlier than women who did not smoke. Body weight also proved to be important. Women who were obese during youth entered menopause an average of one year later than the study participants who were of normal weight. The researchers could not say for sure if overall health and lifestyle are changing the age of onset of menopause, but the study suggests that possibility.
The second study, published in the journal Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Association, is a literature review regarding the benefits of soy consumption in the control of hot flashes. This research, a collaboration of several international universities, showed that two servings of soy daily can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 26%. The key ingredient apparently is the isoflavones in the soy, a natural organic compound that has an estrogenic effect, as isoflavones have a structural similarity to the hormone estrogen. The study showed that eating at least 54 milligrams of soy isoflavones per day helps to reduce hot flashes. Each gram of soy protein provides approximately 3.5 mg of isoflavones, so two cups of soy milk provide approximately 50 mg of isoflavones.
Regarding memory and menopause, a study conducted by University of Rochester and published in the journal Menopause, confirmed a relationship between the onset of menopause and memory problems. Although there is some decline in memory at the beginning of menopause, memory functioning can improve again later. More good news about memory comes from another study from Sweden (this one in both men and women), which showed that the initial decline in age-related memory is slower than previously thought. According to the study, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, half of the participants at 60 years showed no signs of decline, and about 15% of people showed very good brain functioning even at 80 years.
Menopause is a complex subject that deserves more attention from the scientific community, and we will be reporting major new reports here in Mais Saúde. To read more information about menopause, you might consult this 2008 report from the Ministry of Health (in Portuguese).
See also in ProcuraMed:
* Berries slow process of cognitive decline (Portuguese)
* Musical training alters the aging process (Portuguese)
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)