Check out the benefits to women’s health and longevity
Ric Edelman: It's Tuesday, September 5th. Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. You know, there's a medical condition that affects half of the world's population. Imagine if we could get rid of it. I'm talking about menopause. Imagine if women could delay it or even just decide when to go through it. You'd be able to be fertile longer. You'd have more choice about when to start a family. You wouldn't have to deal with hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, brain fog, which very conveniently, all of which hit you right in the prime of your life. And this isn't just about fertility and hot flashes.
Scientists now realize that when your ovaries stop working, you lose production of essential hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are probably the best known of them, but there are lots of others. These hormones govern lots of health systems throughout the body, including your brain and your heart. Without these hormones, biological aging speeds up, and that leads to an increased risk of a variety of health issues.
Menopause starts on average at age 51, and that means lots of women start in their 40s. One study found that for every year you can delay menopause, you increase longevity by 2%. Women who reached menopause after age 55 lived two years longer on average than women who hit menopause at age 40. Women with early onset menopause have higher incidence of heart disease, stroke and death and dementia.
So let's back up. Menopause is when the ovaries run out of follicles. The follicles hold the eggs. Most girls are born with a million eggs by puberty. You've got about 300,000 left. And after that, about 12,000 die each year. Usually one egg gets released every month. And so there's now new research going on to slow down the rate that the follicles and the eggs are lost.
At Columbia University, researchers are testing a drug that's used for kidney transplants to see if it will slow ovarian aging. It already worked in mice. Maybe it will work in humans, too. At Northwestern University, they're testing a drug made to treat pulmonary disease. And the biotech company Gameto is trying cell engineering. Their goal is to improve women's health without extending fertility by making ovarian support cells produce the hormones that are stopped by menopause.
Other companies like Oviva Therapeutics and Celmatix, they're doing similar research. The goal is to treat menopause the same way women treat contraception. With contraception, you get to choose when to have a baby. With these new therapies, you'll get to choose when to have menopause. And all these researchers basically say the same thing. Menopause should not be treated as normal aging any more than we think. Tooth decay is normal. All this research is in early clinical trials, but within a decade or so, menopause might become optional.
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