Category Archives: Candace Burch

A collection of posts by Candace Burch, MA.

Candace Burch has been working in health promotion and disease prevention for over 25 years as a woman’s health advocate and champion of safe natural approaches to menopause management.

Candace has a Masters degree in Health Education, and was Medical Coordinator for the “Channel 9 Health Fair,” an annual statewide event sponsored by KUSA Television in Denver. In the 1980s she moved to London, England, to work in medical publishing as an editor, writer, and journalist until 1996. She is a partner in Menopausibilities, LLC.

MUST READS for Gifting Balance this Christmas

As promised, and in time for Christmas giving I have put together my all-time “must-reads”  that not only speak to me of balance but help me find and sustain it in the midst of the slings and arrows of daily living….many of my best picks for mind, body and soul balancing guidance  can be easily-peasily ordered online from our Menopausibilities Women’s Health Shop. Okay here’s my list of essential, can’t stay in balance without fantabulous reads.

HORMONE BALANCING:
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christianne Northrup, M.D.

Hormone Balance Made Simple, John R. Lee, M.D. (any of the books by John R. Lee including: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About MenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PreMenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life  (w/ David Zava PhD.)

The Cortisol Connection, Shawn Talbott

 Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. Jim Wilson, N.D.

The Mood Cure, Julia Ross

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.


MIND and SOUL Balancing
:

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg

Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy

Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth

Magnificent Mind at Any Age, Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed

The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, M.D.


Body Balancing:

True Food
, Andrew Weil, M.D.

Fight Fat After 40, Pamela Peeke, M.D.

Super Nutrition for Menopause, Anne Marie Gittleman

The Thyroid Diet, Mary J. Shomon

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano

Stay tuned, next post for Kyle’s TOP Books of Balance for the NEW YEAR!! May your days be merry, bright, and above all in balance!!

Christmas coming on - not hot flashes!

Give the gift of Balance this Christmas! Happy Holidays! Candace, Rye and Dave

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness

Preventing Breast Cancer: Balancing your hormones and your weight can help save your life!

Learning how to lose weight and balance our hormones is one of the most important things we can ever do to help reduce breast cancer risks in our lifetime. I’ve got science on my side when I say this; in fact in a very recent study, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center looked at outcomes in patients with breast cancer and found that despite women receiving the most up-to-date treatment, being overweight or obese increased their risk of breast cancer recurrence by 24 percent and death by 37 percent! The increased risk was specifically linked to women whose tumors were fueled by estrogen – this is significant, given the fact that fat cells are mini-estrogen producing factories (thanks to the action of the aromatase enzyme in fat cells) – so the more body fat we have, the more fat cells we have churning out estrogen – and raising our risks for breast cancer or its recurrence. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) tell us that this is the first time in history more adults are overweight than average sized (!) so needless to say, maintaining an ideal weight is top priority not only in the fight against diabetes and heart disease, but a necessity to protect against breast cancer.

Staying informed about breast cancer prevention is the key to dodging that diagnosis in your lifetime.

The medical literature is full of studies linking hormones and lifestyle to cancers (for an up-to-date archive visit: www.theseventhwoman.org). In the penultimate guide to preventing breast cancer: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life,” Dr. John Lee and David Zava, PHD, reiterate the point: Experts agree that environmental risk factors, such as diet and exposure to toxins and pollutants, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20 percent. Among the environmental risk factors for breast cancer, diet is probably as important as exposure to toxins. Even those who happen to have a genetic predisposition can improve their chances of dodging a breast cancer diagnosis with hormone balance and a healthy diet.

This is exactly why the motto during breast cancer awareness month AND all year long needs to morph into Prevention is the Cure! (see Pinkwashing blog, Oct. 2011 www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com).

So, let’s talk about best ways to improve your odds of dodging that diagnosis in the first place:

  1. First test your hormone levels to detect hidden hormone imbalances such as estrogen dominance, low progesterone or high cortisol stress hormones, that are strongly associated with higher risks for breast cancer. You can order a saliva hormone test kit at lowest prices online through www.canaryclub.org

2. If estrogen dominance is identified through hormone testing, take steps to correct it a.s.a.p. An estimated 97% of breast cancers are linked with excess estrogens unbalanced by adequate progesterone, its’ critical balancing partner. Supplementing with natural/bioidentical progesterone is the first line of defense against breast cell growth fueled by an excess of estrogens relative to other hormones. Losing weight to stop estrogen production in fat cells is every bit as important to reverse this vicious cycle. (The Body in Balance program at MRC Weight Loss Centers emphasizes natural hormone balancing to achieve weight loss goals:  www.emetabolic.com )

3. To lose weight and reduce estrogen dominance choose hormone-free, organic foods, fruits and vegetables as often as possible – reject simple sugars, carbs, and caffeine in excess. Think not that you can’t have them, think instead: I don’t want them! This gives YOU back your power!

4. Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussells sprouts (and supplement with the active ingredient DIM) that promote proper estrogen metabolism AND actually clear and rid the body of xenoestrogens that dangerously raise estrogen levels. (see “The Cruciferous Connection” Feb. 1st, blogpost: www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)

5. Get your EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids – fish oil is the best source) and “good fats” in avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds vs. trans/fake fats. Good fats help regulate cell reproduction, inhibit tumor growth, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Whole foods prevent breast cancer

An apple a day still keeps the doctor away…high fiber fruits and vegetables are full of anti-oxidants that keep cancer at bay.

6. Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day to flush out fat, free radicals, and other toxins that invite cancers.

7. Avoid bad estrogens not only by choosing hormone-free foods, but by heating/microwaving in glass or ceramic (never plastic), using stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, and switching to GREEN household, garden, and personal care products. (see March 3rd blog “Got Milk”, www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)

8. Normalize cortisol/stress hormone levels that raise blood sugar and insulin levels which provide raw fuel for tumors. Prioritizing ME time to unwind and counteract stress with deep breathing and tension releasing exercise (stretching, yoga, swimming, walking, etc.) can prevent breast cancers triggered by uncontrolled stress. So too can we protect ourselves from the cancer inducing effects of toxic stress by doing the things we love to do and spending time with the people, pets, projects that calm, relax, engage, and ignite our energy, zest for living, and immunities against cancer. Prevention IS the Cure! It’s simply a no brainer.

Love the one you’re with – Studies tell us that the more engaged with life and love we are, the longer we will live, disease-free!

In subsequent posts during breast cancer awareness month I will provide you with specific information about the hormonal links to breast cancer. Meanwhile, if the prevention motto moves you, comment on our blog and tell us how you maintain your weight, balance your hormones, reduce estrogen dominance and protect your girls against breast cancer! 

1 Comment

Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness

Insist on Bioidenticals: BHRT is the new HRT

It never ends I said to no one in particular.  And then loud enough to raise a few eyebrows: when will these people get it right!! I was referring of course to the crazy- making misinformation on hormones that crops up way too often in the popular press. I had been in the doctors office that day, riffling through  the Health and Science section of a month old Time Magazine when my eye landed  on a handy dandy chart divided into OLD SCIENCE – NEW SCIENCE. The OLD column was in a muddy green hue and the NEW in eco-green.

Under OLD Science on Hormone Replacement it was written: Estrogen and progestin protected post-menopausal women from heart disease.

Under NEW Science it was written: Hormones do not protect the heart and can increase the risk of breast cancer. 

Excuse me? They got the first part right, but to then say that “hormones do not protect….” sounds like they are saying ALL hormones do not protect and ALL hormones are bad for us when nothing could be further from the truth.  Endogenous hormones, the real ones that our bodies produce naturally, certainly do protect the heart and the breasts (not to mention all the other reproductive organs in the body, including blood vessels, bones, brain, etc.), that’s what they are there for! And the next best thing to the real thing? A bioidentical hormone, derived from plant substances made to mimic mother nature.   Yet the presumably up-to-date editors of Time’s Health and Science section (no less) chose not to make mention of  bioidentical hormones. They chose not to mention what is  widely recognized by scientists and experts alike that Bioidentical Hormone Restoration Therapy” or BHRT is the new HRT.

One size no longer fits all
when it comes to women’s hormonal health

And in the year 2012, a full decade since the bad news about Prempro hit the headlines, there was no mention of the millions of American women who are switching over to BHRT  because it works – without putting us at risk for strokes, heart disease and breast cancer. We women are on to the NEW science of bioidenticals, learning how hormones work in our bodies, reading the studies, listening to the experts, partnering with providers and experiencing the relief.  We have seen the future of women’s hormonal health and we’re not going back!

My little hormonal rant puts me in mind of a recent “Dr. Oz Says”  that I have to share with you here: “Hormones are better now. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) monitored women taking high doses of Prempro, a synthetic mix of horse derived estrogens and progestin ….. This combo is still prescribed today, but you should insist on today’s much safer types of  hormone therapy: bioidentical estrogen, and especially, progesterone. They can lower your breast cancer risk and protect your heart. Yes, we’re going against the establishment but you deserve the right data, not the BS (bad science) from those who seem not to care what the WHI and other studies said. Today’s hormone therapy is safer – so safe in fact that it is the intelligent option for women.”

Oz says it all, and he says it all right. Mixed in with the mixed messages on hormonal health there are those who are doing the work, witnessing its benefit, and unafraid to speak truth to power. In the paradigm shift from synthetic to authentic hormones the science is growing and it is on our side.

Balance is achievable.

You can gather that evidence for yourself by checking out the scientific resource sections at Women in Balance www.womeninbalance.org or The Seventh Woman Foundation www.theseventhwoman.org. Meanwhile join in the discussion and comment right here on the blog to let us know how you have experienced the benefit of  BHRT and natural hormone balance.

1 Comment

Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Women's Health & Happiness

How to Find a Natural Hormone (bioidentical) Friendly Health Care Provider

In the ten years since the the Women’s Health Initiative put the kabosh on HRT, millions of women stopped using PremPro, the combination of horse-derived estrogen and synthetic progestin found to literally be causing all the problems it was supposed to be protecting us against! When the higher risks for heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer were revealed as outweighing the so-called benefits of the billion dollar drug too many of us had trusted for decades, the researchers halted the the study immediately – three years early.

European women use bioidenticals for balance

In the ensuing years while many women have successfully migrated to bioidentical hormones made from plant substances, millions of other women who chucked their HRT into the bin are still out in the cold, afraid to use any type of hormones at all. This is a crying shame given the fact that hormones govern our every motion and emotion, protect our bones, blood vessels, hearts, brains, and breasts from disease, decay and rapid aging, AND that too many of us are missing out on the benefits of bioidenticals that our European counterparts have enjoyed for decades.

Part of the challenge is that when the bad news about hormones hit the headlines in 2002, many providers had to jettison the old one-size fits all approach to menopause with nothing in place to take its place. Dr. JoAnn Manson, the new director of NAMS (North American Menopause Society), and one of the WHI’s lead investigators underlined this in a recent interview alluding to the “many, many clinicians who no longer prescribe, or know how to prescribe.” She goes on to say, “this isn’t a good situation for women who are having severe menopausal symptoms. They’re going to have trouble finding clinicians who will help them make the most informed decision.” Not a good situation indeed, but for women still seeking safer solutions ten years on from the WHI, Kyle and I can assure YOU that the situation is improving by the minute.

To put this into perspective …. when I became the Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory (one of the largest hormone testing labs in the country) in 2000, just 25 per cent of our clients were health care providers; the rest were consumers looking for answers on their own. Eight years later licensed health care providers had climbed to 75 per cent of our client base, a number that signalled a paradigm shift  from hormone replacement to hormone balance. Pretty promising huh! Not to mention the growing numbers of health educators like me and lifestyle counselors/coaches coming on line to help women explore their options for safe, natural symptom relief.

So, if you are one of those women still feeling confused or out of the loop when it comes to your hormones, we have resources aplenty for you starting with your local compounding pharmacist. The majority of these brainy biochemists really get it when it comes to the whys and wherefores of hormone action in the body and are trained in BHRT (the bioidentical hormone restoration model). Not only are these folks themselves fountains of information, they can usually point you in the direction of health care providers who will test your hormones and are trained to prescribe natural hormone therapies tailored to individual needs. So that’s your first port of call, a face to face with your friendly local compounder, or you can find them by visiting www.iacprx.org.

Next stop are the excellent online resources that enable you to find a provider in your area by simply popping your zipcode into the required field. The best of these can be found at: www.womeninbalance.org, or www.zrtlab.com
Just go to their “find a provider” referral tab. If you need to lose weight you can get a head start on the process by identifying the hormone imbalances that contribute to weight gain through MRC weight loss centers around the country www.emetabolic.com. Their Body in Balance program is the first ever to address hormone imbalance in a nation-wide weight loss program. Awesome!

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon you can get in touch with Kyle or myself to explore your options for finding balance in your hormones and in your lives! This is a Menopausibilities essential truth:

Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress – take the first step NOW!

Being in balance.

8 Comments

Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness

In Defense of saliva hormone testing: the battle of spit vs. blood

Leave a comment

Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness

In defense of saliva hormone testing: the battle of spit vs. blood

Last week the talking head TV doctors were at it again,  spinning and disparaging the accuracy and validity of saliva hormone testing despite decades of use by health care providers around the world to detect and correct hormone imbalances.  This kind of noise gets louder every now and again, emanating mostly from well-paid spokesmen for big-Pharma contracted to uphold the status quo.

By that of course, I mean the continued use of synthetic HRT (albeit at lesser doses but nevertheless a far cry from the bioidenticals Dr. Oz and other forward thinking providers now favor and tell us to INSIST upon if we want to prevent breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke) AND blood testing. Naysayers would have you believe that blood is the ONLY way to measure hormones accurately in EVERY person on the planet, despite the fact that unlike standard blood tests, saliva measures bioavailable, active hormone levels that any savvy practitioner will tell you, more closely correlates with patient symptoms. Not to  mention that it accomplishes this task non-invasively, without the needles that can raise stress and skew results…indeed that is why saliva testing remains the gold standard for collection of cortisol stress hormones.

Thousands of reputable MDs, NDs, NPs, PAs, endocrinologists, (and I might add, a growing number of Ob-GYNS) etc., use saliva testing to quantify hormone levels as do scientists and researchers  in the field. The World Health Organization for one, has used salivary testing to run cross-cultural comparisons of hormone levels in women living in industrialized vs. third world countries.
As to why this issue rears its head from time to time, to be fair it has to be said that many traditional MDs are not yet familiar with  the ranges and measurements used in saliva testing which differ from the standard blood test. Hence they are not comfortable interpreting a saliva test result or its’ validity. But this is no excuse for being indifferent to evidence of benefit, or as someone once said, being down on what one is not up on.

Looking sideways at the benefits of saliva testing is a disservice to those who stand to benefit

To make a long story short, the saliva hormone test provides invaluable information millions of people are using to shed new light on a persistent problem, rebalance their hormones naturally, and improve their health, energy and longevity. As the former Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory, I saw its benefits in action and heard from clients every day who told of persistent symptoms relieved, weight lost at last, mojo restored, divorce postponed for good! By the time I moved on from ZRT into my own hormone consultancy we had tested nearly 2 million people – the numbers speak for themselves.

Have you had your hormones tested in saliva and experienced the benefits of easy collection, easy monitoring and information you were able to use to make a difference in the way you think, look and feel? If so, please chime in ….and comment on our blog in defense of saliva!

7 Comments

Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Women's Health & Happiness

Top 10 Hormone Rebalancing Tips: YOU could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and Not Even Know It! Oprah said that but what did she mean? Hormone imbalance defined.

Return to Balance

No one likes being out of balance, especially when the hot flashes, foggy thinking, and mood swings of menopause leave us feeling like a pale reflection of our former selves. During this hormonally challenged time its important to realize that the extent to which we suffer from troublesome symptoms has much do with the extent to which our lives – and our hormones – are out of balance.

Picture if you will synchronized swimmers all pointing their toes in perfect petal formation at the exact same moment. Suddenly, one of the swimmers takes off in a different direction, let’s call her progesterone, another dives to the bottom of the pool (call her testosterone), a few more decide to make waves (call them cortisols) while the last but not least of swimmers (call her estrogen) takes over the whole routine. All that beautiful synchrony, gone.

Image

Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

And so it goes with us. When our hormones are out of sync, we are out of sync – physically, mentally, emotionally. And because hormones are so mutually dependant (a deficiency of one creates a surplus of another), there are countless opportunities for imbalance. As Oprah put it at the opening of her show on women and hormones, “You could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and not even know it!” Knowing the signs and symptoms of a hidden hormone imbalance is your first big clue, testing and exploring your options is next  …. But before we go any further, let me explain what a hormonal imbalance is…. It’s what happens when one or more of the key hormone players (see Kyle’s most recent blog): estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or Cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, (or like our synchronized swimmers above, swim off in different directions) that we are left with excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another, a working definition of hormone imbalance. These unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can be handled but until we learn how, they can seriously disrupt our  moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living. It can happen to the best of us …I would describe myself during my early experience of imbalance as feeling addled, exhausted and unloving…in a word or two: basket case.  Here now are some of the more common (preventable – seize on that word ladies) doozies:

Estrogen Dominance (flabby, crabby and fed-up) – this mother of all hormone imbalances results from high estrogen levels relative to low progesterone as a result of erratic ovulation, normal aging, hysterectomy (particularly if estrogen therapy is prescribed post-surgery in the absence of its balancing partner, progesterone), and exposure to environmental chemicals known as “xenoestrogens” (see my Feb 1st post: the Cruciferous Connection). Too much estrogen triggers multiple symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, heavy periods/no periods, lost libido, lost pzazz, lost YOU…. It typically begins at Perimenopause (early to mid-40s) when hormones wax and wane, and ends with Menopause (early 50s) when cycles cease and the ovaries stop making hormones for good. Younger women who don’t ovulate regularly (note that lack of ovulation = lack of progesterone) can also be estrogen dominant, plagued by PMS, monthly migraines, tender breasts, water retention and painful periods. So when it comes to hormone imbalance, too much estrogen is just as much an issue as too little. Having said that….

Estrogen deficiency (hot, sweaty, weepy) – low levels of estrogen can trigger that hot flash in the middle of an important meeting, or night sweats in the middle of the night, as well as other bedevilments like vaginal dryness, thinning skin, brittle nails, bones, heart palpitations, fragile emotions, muddled mind….

Imbalances of Testosterone/DHEA and Cortisol (no longer lean, just mean) are a bad combination that deplete energy, metabolism, mental clarity, stamina, and the strength of our bones, muscles, and libido. When for instance, the stress hormone cortisol goes up or stays up, testosterone goes down along with our enthusiasm, drive, and zest for living.

Adrenal Imbalances (tired, wired, and bummed-out): Lows and/or highs of cortisol resulting from unresolved stress, junk food, lack of sleep and exercise, can cause rapid aging and belly fat bigtime – not to mention allergies, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.  This under-recognized imbalance generally makes an appearance in mid-life when the adrenal glands have to pick up the slack in hormone production. The once and future energizer bunny no longer hops but plops, her sunny mood submerged under a black cloud. This is the time when the flack hits the fan if we don’t take better care of ourselves; tired, overworked adrenals eventually burnout and so do we…

Fluctuating hormones at perimenopause when hormone production becomes erratic are usually behind the hair-raising symptoms known to everywoman as the “emotional roller coaster.” That’s when all hell breaks loose and we’ll do anything for relief!

Fortunately we have a lot more control over these ups and downs than we might think. Consider these Top 10 Tips  to empower yourself and return to balance:

1.   Determine your symptoms of hormone imbalance http://www.hormonesynergy.com/women.asp  or http://www.theseventhwoman.org

2.   Test your hormones to detect hidden imbalances http://www.canaryclub.org or http://www.zrtlab.com

3.   If you have an imbalance and need to supplement insist on bioidentical hormones – they are better and safer!

4.   Learn how and when to use natural progesterone, the “great balancer.” http://www.theseventhwoman.org

5.   Support adrenal health with optimal C and B-complex, D3, and herbal tonics such as Dong Quai, Astragalus, Maca, Rhodiola, etc.

6.   Avoid xenoestrogens – eat “hormone free” foods, go GREEN with home, garden, bodycare; microwave in ceramic/glass; reject synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) and any products with unpronounceable ingredients, exercise in the open air whenever possible.

7.    Counteract stress by releasing tension: stretching, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, zumba, walking. Strength train to boost hormones naturally.

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

10.  Act the way you want to feel! ( The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, order at http://menopausibilities.com/womens-health-shop.html)

How do YOU rebalance? Have you got a top 10, or 5, or a Numero UNO all-time best tip you can share? We’d love to pass it on!

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

3 Comments

Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Women's Health & Happiness