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Menopause and Diseases

Menopause, is a stage of women life that corresponds with a sudden change in hormonal balance of a woman’s body.

What are the consequences of this drastic change? Where is this drastic reduction of oestrogen leading to?

There are many studies for the different aspects of change during menopause. Here we will try to summarize all of the diseases/conditions that you may (or may not) develop after menopause in order to be able to take some preventative action, and to raise awareness of potential issues.

Entering menopause is associated with a number of diseases or conditions. The most common diseases are: Cardiovascular Diseases

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cognitive Changes
  • Diabetes
  • Breast Cancer

Most diseases are a consequence of the lack of oestrogen. Yes, oestrogens, protect us against many diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease:

A decline in the natural hormone oestrogen may represent a factor in heart disease increasing among post-menopausal women. Oestrogen is believed to play an important role in the cardiovascular system by exerting a positive effect on the inner layer of artery walls, specifically helping to keep blood vessels flexible. This means that they can relax and expand in order to accommodate blood flow. Many changes occur in the body approaching menopause. Blood pressure starts to increase. LDL cholesterol, (the one that is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol), tends to increase while HDL, (the one considered to be the ‘good’ cholesterol), tends to decline or remains the same. Triglycerides, certain types of fats in the blood, also increase.

Osteoporosis and Musculoskeletal Disorders:

Menopause has an adverse impact on overall musculoskeletal health. It is always associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and also (a recent discovery) sarcopenia. Osteoporosis is a process through which your bones can lose density and become more fragile and are more likely to break. Oestrogen is a sex hormone, and is essential to female bone health because it promotes osteoblast activity. Osteoblasts are cells that produce bone. When oestrogen levels drop during menopause or approaching it, the osteoblasts aren’t able to produce bone anymore. That’s how osteoporosis starts. Sarcopenia, instead represents the age-related muscle wasting together with loss of muscle function. It is a relatively newly recognized condition, and together with osteoporosis, is known to be accelerated by the loss of oestrogen. Osteoarthritis on the other hand, seems to have a link with oestrogen deficiency. In general, every locomotor disability leads eventually to a poor quality of life. Sarcopenia and obesity (with the new term, sarcobesity) haven’t very good outcomes. Poor musculoskeletal health may progress to cause frailty and probably higher incidence of falls and fractures which can therefore increase associated morbidity and mortality.

Cognitive Changes:

Oestrogens play a role also in the cognitive process. They enhance synaptic plasticity, neurite growth, hippocampal neurogenesis, and long-term potentiation, which is a physiological process involved in the formation of memories.

Moreover, oestrogen influences several neurotransmitter systems, including acetylcholine, serotonin, noradrenalin, and glutamate. Acetylcholine is important in memory processes. It is then pivotal to closely watch early signs of cognitive impairment during menopause, as the lack of oestrogen could influence the speed of the process.

Diabetes:

Whether menopause increases the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus is still matter up for debate. For sure it affects the metabolism and the way cells respond to insulin. Moreover, metabolic changes happening during the menopausal transition include an increase in the adipose tissue and also a redistribution of it, together with a decrease in energy expenditure. In addition, there is impairment of insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, together with an increase in the risk of developing type2 diabetes. It is important to keep blood sugar levels under control after entering menopause.

Breast Cancer:

Even if it seems likely, the reality is that menopause does not directly cause cancer. But, the risk of developing cancer obviously increases as you age. Therefore, women going through menopause have a greater chance of developing cancer because they’re older, and they are aging. Moreover, the more women are exposed to oestrogen the more likely their chances are of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Of course, this is a topic still under debate as using HRT increases the window in which you are exposed to oestrogens and progesterone. But yet, there is no clear indication/results about HRT and the possibility of developing cancer. For sure, you can reduce your possibilities of developing cancer by continuing the same good habits you had before menopause, such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoid smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

These are the major diseases you are more at risk of developing after entering menopause. It is pivotal to develop preventative habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are many ways that can help you to cope with symptoms, which are natural and better alternatives, such as CBD oil.

By Dr Ornella Cappellari

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