Does turning 40 mean I’ve turned in to the preverbal pumpkin?
Last month I made a few different medical appointments, took off work for the morning so I could knock them out; later I realized that I looked like a masochist booking all these in one morning.
I started out my day getting blood drawn to get an update on how my Thyroid is functioning. I’m currently on Nature-Throid, which is a T4/T3 combo.
Then I headed to get my “Well Woman Exam” at the gynecologist. It had been just shy of 3 years since my last exam; I personally do not think that I need to do it every year. I am not on birth control, have regular cycles, and have no symptoms or abnormalities occurring that would warrant annual visits.
However since ovarian cancer did hit close to me, I’m looking into genetic testing for myself to see if my risks are high enough for MD Andersen’s Cancer clinic will take me as a preventative patient.
This is where the day got interesting.
The doctor and location I went to is new to me, I wanted to find someone that was close to my home. This place received good reviews, so I decided to give them a try. I go in, fill out paper word, weigh-in, urinate in a cup (apparently me telling them I was not pregnant wasn’t adequate), and strip down to nothing but my socks. Man am I happy I wore socks that day!
The lady comes in the room and much to my surprise, she was the opposite of what I was expecting to walk through the door…..she explained she was not the doctor that she was a midwife and was it ok with me that she complete my exam. I said “yes” that was fine; I thought to myself….”oh yes…maybe she is a bit progressive in her thinking, education, and more up-to-date on research than the doctor would have been”. NOPE!
While she was very good at communication and executing the exam….the education and mind-set was very old-school and not accurate.
I think I heard “Now that you’re 40…..” at least 5 to 10 times! I asked her if “now that I am 40 if I’ve turned into a pumpkin or something” and she giggled and said “ya…kinda”.
Here are the three inaccuracies that jumped out at me when she was giving me the “now that you’re 40” recommendations.
- “Now that you’re 40, you need to make sure you’re taking calcium”. Fallacy!
- “Now that you’re 40, you need to start getting mammograms”. Nope!
- “Now that you’re 40, you need to start looking out for perimenopause symptoms”. What?!?
Please allow me to break down my thoughts and provide some up-to-date resources, data, and information.
The old-school way of thinking that we need to supplement with calcium is not accurate. We do not need to supplement with calcium to have strong bones or teeth or anything else that they claim taking calcium does. Calcium supplementation is correlated with increased heart disease, kidney stones, and premature death. Calcium can cause medical issues with the heart and kidneys.
Naturally because this is a very controversial topic there are lots of articles and arguments in both directions, mostly because “big dairy” doesn’t want to lose their customers and money because people don’t “need” to drink milk, eat yogurt, or cheese (however I do love eating cheese, because it tastes so yummy, not because I need it for calcium). Also, note who is paying for these studies…..is it “big dairy”?? Think about the fact that there use to not be calcium supplements….people ate vitamin and mineral rich foods and worked hard physically and they were healthy.
Calcium needs co-factors to be absorbed and used by the body; vitamins K2, D and A, magnesium, and zinc.
Side note: Rosita Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil has K2, D and A in it naturally as a food derived supplement. WARNING: Not all Cod Liver Oils, Fish Oils, nor Krill Oils are created equal. The fats in these products are very delicate and will go rancid very easy, thus the “fish burps”. Do not pick the product based on price….you could be doing more harm than good to your body.
To error on the side of caution, the best way to get calcium in your body is to eat real whole foods like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, almonds, blackstrap molasses, cold-water fatty fish, bone broth, raw grass-fed dairy from A2 cows (if you tolerate it), goat, or sheep. But milk nor dairy products are necessary to obtain calcium.
For strong bones you should include resistance training and make sure you are getting all your vitamins and minerals in your diet.
This can be a very controversial topic. I’m going to try and keep this section as short as I can while hitting the highlights of the topic. I’ve ran across a plethora of articles over the years that discuss mammograms not being as beneficial as allopathic (traditional western) medicine claims.
What you need to know is that mammograms are not super accurate and have lots of false positives and false negative results. The big one for me is that there is a high amount of radiation associated with this test and radiation can cause cancer. Specifically ionizing radiation is a risk factor for breast cancer to develop (see Dr. Mercola article links below).
My conjecture is that the mammogram business is so big, creates many jobs, and makes so much money that not pushing them on women and not doing them doesn’t seem to be an option – because it “works” sometimes.
The alternative that I like is a Thermogram (see links below). Thermograms are a much safer and less invasive than mammograms. They can be used starting earlier in life and can be done more frequently without harm to your health. They also provide more accurate results.
A multi-pronged approach is best, use all the tools that we know and have, including mammograms when necessary. Do self-exams, do thermograms, do ultrasound and if necessary do mammograms and MRIs.
BUT, prevention of cancer is the real key.
What you put in and on your body, your lifestyle including sleep and exercise, and your hormonal/endocrine health are all very important in the prevention of cancer.
Let’s start with definitions:
Pre-Menopause is the time when a woman is having regular menstrual cycles, fertile child bearing years.
Perimenopause is the time up to 10 years prior to the full stopping of your period (aka: menopause), during which a woman’s hormones are changing typically causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
Menopause is when a woman goes a minimum of 12 months consecutively without menstruation.
The truth is that every woman goes through menopause at different ages, therefore I deduct that women also go through perimenopause at different ages. Some women have very gradual long time symptoms and some women it hits like a freight-train.
It may in fact be me not wanting to face the fact that being 40 means that I am now old enough to experience perimenopause symptoms, due to just my age. My brain doesn’t want to comprehend nor accept this!
What I do know is that my lifestyle (aka: long-term chronic stress) broke my body down in such ways that directly affect my sex hormone outputs and I have been working a long time to rebuild my health and hormones. I still have regular menstrual cycles. This has motivated me highly to heal as quickly as I can so that I can better manage the impending perimenopause.
Encouragement: I believe that women can transition through perimenopause into menopause without it being miserable and traumatic. This isn’t common these days, but it is possible. As I learn more, rest assured that I will be writing and sharing what I learn.
Below are a few books that I recommend:
- Before the Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause
- Sex, Lies, and Menopause
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About: Premenopause
- What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About: Menopause
- Do not take calcium supplements, get it from real whole foods. If you do take a calcium supplement do not take it by itself, take it with co-factors.
- Use more safe methods of breast cancer screening before subjecting your body to cancer causing radiation.
- Just because someone is 40 doesn’t mean that they are going to start perimenopause. However it does mean that one should get as healthy as ever possible before any major hormonal changes start occurring. Particularly the adrenal glands.
Below are links for you to read and research further the topics briefly discussed in this post.
The following excerpt is from a PDF called “The Real Food Action Guide by: John and Ocean Robbins” Pgs. 7 – 8:
“John Robbins: For years, the dairy industry has been telling us that dairy is the best thing for healthy bones, that kids need to drink cow’s milk, and that milk is Nature’s perfect food. Actually, milk is nature’s perfect food for turning a 90-pound calf into a 450-pound cow in about 12 months. If it were true that we need dairy products to have strong bones, then the countries in the world with the highest dairy product consumption would probably have the strongest bones, and they would probably have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Well, the four countries with the highest consumption of dairy products in the world, are: Finland, Sweden, the United States, and England. Now, the four countries in the world with the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world happen to be those very same four countries: Finland, Sweden, the United States, and England.
Ocean Robbins: This can actually seem kinda hard to believe, when we’ve all been inundated by ads telling us that the calcium in dairy products is the best way to build strong bones. Most of us have come to believe that this is just a fact of life.
John Robbins: Yes, but in reality it’s a fabricated myth designed to sell dairy products. Now, it’s true that milk has a lot of calcium, and that women, in particular, need more calcium then men do. But a famous study of 78,000 female nurses found that the relative risk of hip fracture for women who drank two glasses or more of milk per day, was nearly one-and-half times higher than for those who drank one glass or less per week. And another population that can need a bit of extra calcium is the elderly. Yet a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that elderly people with the highest dairy product consumption actually had double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption. Calcium is of course important. But dairy products are not the best way to get this important mineral. One reason is that the calcium absorption rates for green vegetables is so much higher than it is for dairy products. For kale, the calcium absorption rate is 50 percent; For Brussels sprouts, it’s 64 percent. But for milk, it’s only half of that – 32 percent.
If you want to have strong bones throughout your entire life, your best approach is to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, to exercise regularly, don’t drink Coke or Pepsi because cola drinks are made with phosphoric acid that deletes calcium from bone tissue, and minimize your consumption of animal protein, which has a similar effect. You’ll feel better, your bones will be stronger, and your overall health will benefit in many other ways, as well.”