Smile! It Gets Better: Here’s some good news going into the weekend: Researchers have found that menopause is good for your health.

“In fact it’s quite good,” said Professor Lorraine Dennerstein, a
psychiatrist at the University of Melbourne, who studied more than 400
women over 15 years through their menopause transition.

Dennerstein presented the findings this week at the International Congress on Women’s Health.

found most problems associated with menopause, like body aches,
sleeping troubles, hot flushes, night sweats, low sex drive and memory
complaints, peaked at 50.

“But based on this population data
from the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project, which shows what
most women experience, women’s mood overall improves as they become
post menopausal,” Prof Dennerstein said.

“In fact, mood symptoms
and depression actually peak between 35 and 40 and then it’s all
downhill from there.” A separate US study from the University of
Washington presented at the congress showed that contrary to
expectations, women’s stress levels also dropped as they go through
their 50s and 60s.

“It’s findings like these that are changing the way menopause is perceived,” Prof Dennerstein said.

FDA Fasttracks Review of Cancer Vaccine for Older Women: The FDA will decide within six months whether Gardasil, the vaccine that protects against most strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer later in life, should be approved for women ages 27 to 45. Gardasil is currently available for girls and women ages 9 to 26.

Knowing Your Knees Needs: Canadian researchers sent a man and a woman, both 67, who had identical levels of knee osteoarthritis,to dozens of orthopedic surgeons and family physicians. Two-thirds of the doctors recommended knee replacement for the man, while only a third made the same recommendation for the woman. The study appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Women are less likely to get this very effective surgical procedure,” Dr. James G. Wright, a professor of surgery at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study, told The New York Times. “They should be more aggressive in challenging doctors, especially by getting second opinions.”

Too bad they can’t also get funding; knee replacements are covered under the Canadian national health

Pros and Cons of Online Access to Health Records: Would you feel comfortable storing your personal health records online?
“Microsoft, Google and more than 100 Web sites offering personal health
records know the answer, but they’re betting they can quell your fears
about posting your most private information online and get you to sign
on soon,” reports the Washington Post.

Menopause Symptoms May Indicate Heart Risk: Severe menopausal symptoms may indicate a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study by Dutch researches. The researchers found that women who reported flushing or night sweats had higher cholesterol levels, higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and a slightly higher chance of developing heart disease over the next decade.

HealthDay News has a good summary of the study, along with coverage of a separate French study that looked at the safety of different types of hormone delivery methods.

Plus: Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden of McClatchy/Tribune newspapers discuss the effect of weight on menopausal symptoms, beginning with a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that showed “women who were overweight were more likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats compared with women of normal weight. The higher their percent body fat, the more likely the women were to experience these so-called vasomotor symptoms.”

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