The four-day annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) ended with several sessions that underscored one of NAMS AND WVFC’s most important messages—that menopause is not just about hormones. The final day focused not only on the physical symptoms of menopause, but on more ethereal topics. Thomas H. Murray, Ph.D., director of the Hastings Center, a nonproft research institute concerned with bioethics, presented the Kenneth Kleinman Memorial Endowed Lecture to a packed audience. In his talk, Murray discussed the role of genetic testing and information in healthcare and research—a topic that has generated much discussion and debate in recent years as it has become possible to determine the likelihood of developing many debilitating diseases. Murray pointed out that as the science has progressed, concerns have arisen about the potential violation of the privacy of genetic information and how that information might be used to discriminate against individuals believed to carry genetic risks. He presented a solid and reassuring case for demystifying genetic information, and also underscored that genetic testing  is not as powerful or predictive in most cases as had been feared (or hoped). Which is not to say that it isn’t useful: It can facilitate genetic research and help clinicians provide better counseling for their patients.

The mind-body connection and its impact on health and disease was the focus of a full plenary session in which menopause was discussed in light of healthy living, dealing with addiction, managing time and money, the power of forgiveness, the spiritual connection, the relaxation response, and more—rich topics that will be explored more fully in practical terms in future posts. Until then, you’ll be able to find more information about the meeting ON the NAMS website.

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