Introducing London Naturals Formulas for Women

ld-naturals-womenLondon Drugs is proud to introduce a new line of supplements for women. Throughout her life, a woman’s nutritional requirements vary, depending on a number of factors including the status of her hormones. Women who are pregnant, or nursing, for example, have a need for specific nutrients that will nurture themselves as well as support the healthy growth of a baby.

Women who are approaching or passing through menopause have another set of supplemental needs to ease the path through this important change of life, while women of all ages would like a little help with their bone health, varicose veins, and appearance of their skin, hair and nails. London Drugs women’s formulas fill a need for women of all ages and stages of life.


Dr Art Hister – Young women and their risk of breast cancer

Very interesting results from a recent update of the ongoing and very long-term Nurses’ Health Study, which has in fact been going on for so long that it’s entered another stage in which the researchers are now evaluating the daughters and grand-daughters of the original study participants, so the study is now called Nurses’ Health Study II.

We’ve learned from several previous studies that the more alcohol a woman consumes over her lifetime, the higher her risk of breast cancer, but in this latest update the researchers were interested in the risk of benign breast disease (BBD) in the young women in the current study, and especially in the role that alcohol intake might play in developing BBD.

And what they concluded is that if a young woman (between age 18 and 27) has a mother or even an aunt who has had breast cancer, that young woman is more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with benign breast disease compared to a young woman without any family history of breast cancer.

As well, any young woman whose mother has been diagnosed with BBD is twice as likely to develop benign breast disease herself compared to a young woman with no BBD in the family.

But they also found that alcohol seems to play a significant role in determining a woman’s risk for BBD.

Thus, any young woman whose mother, grand-mother, or aunt had breast cancer was significantly more likely to develop BBD if she – the young woman – drank alcohol regularly, and the more alcohol that young woman consumed, the higher her risk for BBD.

On the all-present other hand, however, young women without any history of breast cancer in the family were at no raised risk of developing BBD linked to alcohol intake.

Bottom line: alcohol seems to play a significant role in many women’s risk for breast disease, both benign breast disease and breast cancer, so every woman should take that into consideration when she decides to drink – especially about how much she takes in.

Dr Art Hister – Smoking and Pregnancy

For any woman who is pregnant right now (or even one thinking of getting pregnant one day) and who is still smoking, here’s a very encouraging piece of news.

A study that looked at 50,000 pregnancies concluded that if a woman gave up smoking soon after she conceived, she had the same chance of a giving birth to a normal-weight baby as a woman who has never smoked.

And the reason that matters is that low birth-weight is a major marker for lots of other health problems. Not to mention that smoking is also related to other key problems during the pregnancy and during labour, as well as in the post-partum period. And, that smoking by a parent, either the mom or the dad, and worst of all by both, is linked to some pretty negative health measures in children forced to live in a smoky environment.

Anyway, the bottom line from this study is pretty simple and should hit home hard to any woman still smoking after conception: quit smoking early in your pregnancy, and there is no harm to the baby.

Dr Art Hister – Why Women Live Longer

Here’s a poser for which there are no easy answers, although there’s a Nobel Prize in it for the person who comes up with a way to counteract it: why do women outlive men?

This is true in every single country in the world (I believe that the Maldives, wherever those are – or that is – was the last place in the world, according to WHO, where men still outlived women. But that reversed sometime last year, much to the chagrin, no doubt of Maldivean men).

Here in Canada, by the way, the difference in life expectancy between men and women is just under 5 years, a gap that has narrowed a bit over the last decade, and each time the new statistics come out, some headlines (particularly from more liberal publications and media groups) imply that this narrowing is actually not a good thing for women, in that it means we are doing a better job at keeping men alive than we are doing at keeping women alive.

Speaking as man, though, I say, “Hey, it’s about time we started doing that.”

Anyways, all this was brought up because a survey from New York City found that while women in the Big Apple can expect to live to 82 (the overall American life expectancy for women is 81), men in Gotham live only to 76 on average.

But here’s the thing: the researchers believe that most of that gap is due to preventable causes. In other words, men in NYC die much earlier from all sorts of things they can actually do something about, something that I think is also true for men in every culture and every country.

These preventable factors include: heart disease (90% of heart attacks are linked to poor lifestyle habits), AIDS, murder (this is New York, after all), obesity (a staggering 71% of men in NYC are overweight or obese compared to only 57% of women) , poor nutrition, being sedentary (more than NYC women, clearly), and (this is a big one for Americans, where health care costs so much, although every male should think about this one because men are reluctant in general to follow health advice or to see a doctor regularly) not attending a health care professional on a regular basis.

Dr Art Hister – You Are What Your Mom Ate – or Not

One of the more intriguing pathways being followed by some researchers the last few years is the one that follows along the theory that lots of the health outcomes that we experience as mature adults are actually a function or a result of what happened to us not only 20 or 30 years earlier, that is, in adolescence or early adulthood, but rather that many of the health conditions we develop in midlife and our senior years are actually a consequence of what happened to us in early childhood, even infancy, and perhaps even in utero.

For example, it’s now very well established that the odds of developing osteoporosis in adulthood are highly related to the exercise we do – or that we don’t do – when we’re much younger. The same relationship – what we do or don’t do as kids or even younger leading to disease much later in life – holds for some cancers (breast cancer in adults, for example, has been linked to exercise in our young years, as the risk of melanoma is related to sun exposure in childhood, and others), some cases of high blood pressure and heart disease and strokes, and so on.

Well, according to a fascinating recent study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, some cases of dementia in adulthood may even be traced to what happened to our moms while we were still in utero.

In this study, the researchers conclude that people who’d been exposed to severe prenatal malnutrition in the Netherlands during World War II (that is, their moms were literally starving while pregnant with them) had significantly higher odds of suffering early cognitive decline in adulthood compared to those who’d not been similarly exposed to malnutrition in utero, that is, people who’d been fetuses carried by moms suffering severe malnutrition during the war were at higher risks of cognitive deficits in midlife than their peers who had been carried by moms who had enough to eat while pregnant.

Just another clear indication why a village raises a child, because when a pregnant woman doesn’t get enough good food to eat, we all pay the costs eventually.

London Drugs betterCare – Osteoporosis

If you have ever wondered why so many elderly people seem to be stooped over and unable to stand up straight, the answer is osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile and break easily. A series of small fractures and compressions in the bones of the spine causes the spine to curve into an “S” shape that makes the person bend forward.

It’s normal to lose some bone material. In fact, throughout our lives our bodies go through a continuing process of losing old bone and making new bone material to replace it. When we are young, the amount of bone material the body makes is greater than the amount it loses, and bone mass (the total amount of bone material in our bodies) increases. In early adulthood the process tends to reach a balance, and our bodies only replace what we actually lose, stabilizing our bone mass. Later, we begin to lose bone faster than we replace it. Over time, this can lead to weaker bones, a condition known as osteoporosis.

As we lose bone mass, all of our bones become fragile, not just the bones in our spine, and they fracture more easily. In fact, in someone with severe osteoporosis, something as simple as a strong hug can break a bone.

A Special Problem for Women

Even though anyone can develop osteoporosis, it occurs far more often in women. There are a number of reasons for this. To begin with, a woman’s bones are generally smaller and lighter than a man’s, so there is less bone mass to lose. Also, men reach their level of peak bone mass later than women, so they have more bone material when they enter the stage when their bone mass stabilizes. And when women go through menopause, their bodies stop making the hormone estrogen, and estrogen plays an important role in preventing bone loss.

In addition to being a woman, there are other factors that increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis. You are more likely to develop it if you are Asian or Caucasian (especially if you are fair-skinned); if you have a small, thin build; or if you have a family history of osteoporosis. Beginning menopause before the age of 45 (either naturally or as the result of having your ovaries removed surgically) also increases risk.

Some lifestyle factors also increase your chances of getting osteoporosis. These include: not getting enough exercise, smoking, consuming too much alcohol or caffeine, and not getting enough calcium. In addition, having certain medical conditions may make you more susceptible to osteoporosis, including diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and anorexia. Taking certain medicines—such as the steroids used to treat asthma and arthritis, certain anticonvulsants, some diuretics, and medicines that contain aluminum—also increases your chances of developing the condition. Taking too high a dose of a prescribed thyroid hormone is another contributing factor. If you aren’t sure if the medicines you take increase your risk, ask your London Drugs pharmacist.

The Telltale Signs

It is unfortunate, but osteoporosis does not announce its appearance with early warning signs. By the time you experience symptoms, your bones will already have become fragile. Once osteoporosis has become advanced, you may notice that you seem to be getting shorter or that your stomach seems to be sticking out. Eventually you may notice that you are developing a stooped posture and a hump may appear on the back just below the neck.

There are some tests that can detect osteoporosis in its early stages. A quick, painless bone density test can detect bone loss long before it would show up on a regular x-ray. And when this test is repeated over time, your doctor can track your rate of bone loss. A woman should have a bone density test performed if she is at least 65 years of age, had a fragility fracture after age 40, has a family history of osteoporosis, or has been on long-term steroid therapy. Future tests can be compared with this reading to help detect bone loss when it occurs.

There are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis or to slow its progress if you catch it in the early stages. These include:

  • Making sure you get enough calcium by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, nuts, some seafood, and some green vegetables.
  • Being physically active. Exercises such as walking and low-impact aerobics can help bones stay healthy. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
  • Not smoking.
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume.

Living with Osteoporosis

The treatment for osteoporosis involves a combination of healthy lifestyle changes that emphasize diet, exercise, and calcium supplementation. There are medicines available that can help slow down your rate of bone loss and even help replace lost bone. For women who have gone through menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be helpful; however, this treatment is not right for every woman. In fact, there are some women who definitely should not be on HRT. You fall into this category if you have ever had breast cancer or cancer involving your reproductive organs, or if you have a blood clotting disorder. Other medications are available as well, and the choice of treatment is an individual one each woman must make
in consultation with her doctor.

If you have osteoporosis, it is important to do everything you can to prevent falls, because falling will lead to broken bones and immobility. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Use a shower stall instead of a bathtub when you have a choice—or equip your bathtub with handrails and be very careful when stepping into or out of the tub.
  • Use handrails whenever they are available in public places such as on stairs or along hallways.
  • Make sure your home is well lit and your walkways are uncluttered.
  • Use elevators instead of stairs or escalators when you have a choice.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in and stay securely on your feet.
  • Don’t climb on chairs or ladders. If you need help in reaching something, ask someone for assistance.
  • Squat down to pick things up from the floor rather than stooping or bending over, and never try to lift heavy things.
  • When possible, avoid medicines that affect your balance. Your London Drugs pharmacist can tell you whether the medicines you take may have this side effect. If so, there may be another medicine your doctor can prescribe instead.

If you have any questions about osteoporosis or treatments for the condition, please come by the pharmacy and ask your London Drugs pharmacist.

Dr. Art Hister – Osteoporosis

Another new risk factor for osteoporosis to take into account: having suffered a fracture earlier in life.

Osteoporosis is a nasty condition that doesn’t get nearly as much attention in the public sphere – among patients and in the media – as it should.

But osteoporosis not only causes a great deal of disability because of fractures – chronic pain, loss of function, immobility, etc – but it can also kill.

Thus, 20% or so of people who break a hip will die as a direct result of that fracture over the next few months following that fracture.

And osteoporosis is not just an “old woman’s” disease, because men suffer about 1/3 of all hip fractures, and lots of younger people (those not yet seniors) already either have full-fledged osteoporosis or the beginnings of it.

So it’s important to recognize osteoporosis risk factors earlier in life, and to do something about them to lower your chances of ending up with a fracture (or several).

And to that end, we know that smoking, a poor diet, the use of certain drugs, being thin, not doing enough exercise, drinking too much alcohol, a lack of vitamin D, and a diet poor in calcium are all key risk factors for future fractures.

But to that long list you can now add, according to a recent study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, having suffered a fracture at an earlier age, that is, according to data from the huge multi-national Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW), older women who had fractures when they were young women also had a significantly higher risk of bone fractures later in life, perhaps because those women have some sort of built-in weakness in their bones to begin with.

So, if that’s you, if you’re someone who had a fracture earlier in life, you should be especially careful, I think, to watch your other risk factors for this potentially devastating condition.