Facts From Diana Bitner, MD

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By Diana Bitner, MD

seniorwoman2Did you know that a woman’s errant chin hairs or even balding may be directly related to the excess belly fat they’re carrying around as they approach menopause?

“Belly fat causes unwanted hair on the chin, upper lip, sideburn, chest, belly, and backside,” said Dr. Diana Bitner of Spectrum Health Medical Group, Women’s Health. A board certified doctor in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Bitner is available to discuss the relationship between belly fat and chin hairs, questions women should be discussing with their doctors and what women can do.

· Belly fat is a storage depot and production machine for androgens such as testosterone. As belly fat increases so does the testosterone. And once the hair starts growing, it is hard to get it to stop.

· Irregular periods, belly fat, and cystic acne together can signal a serious medical condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It causes hair growth on the chin and upper lip as well as increased risk for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and more belly fat!

· Hair follicles on the chin, upper lip, breasts, belly, and ‘backside’ are usually dormant in women but they can be awoken when there is enough free testosterone and estrone in the bloodstream. Thinning hair is also associated with high free testosterone levels.

· It is important to see your doctor if hair growth is progressive and the male pattern extends to sideburns, chest, and is creating thicker hair on the arms, cystic acne, if coupled with a deepening voice change.

Treatments:

· Women can chose to take testosterone medication for low libido in perimenopause and menopause. Low levels can be helpful but it is important to have blood levels monitored; too much medicine can cause blood levels above 70 and lead to permanent thick dark hair growth, high cholesterol, cystic acne, aggression, and male pattern baldness.

· Women who lose the belly fat can reverse the process and get rid of the unwanted hair. It can take time because the hair follicles operate on a continuous 3-6 month cycle. Methods such as laser and electrolysis can be used to remove the hair can help short-term, but only weight loss can keep new hairs from growing.

· Medications to treat unwanted facial hair growth such as the diuretic spironolactone acts to block the testosterone receptor and reduce testosterone production. The birth control pill can be very effective to stop new hair from growing as well as reduce the occurrence of cystic acne-another condition caused by excess testosterone and belly fat.

– Diana Bitner, MD, of Spectrum Health Medical Group, Women’s Health, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She is a Certified Menopause Practitioner in the North American Menopause Society. Dr. Bitner started a menopause group at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan and put together a process called WAIPointes—Who Am I—to treat menopause symptoms and reduce risk factors for chronic disease. She also is founder of True Women’s Health (www.truewomenshealth.com). She received her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Butterworth Hospital. Dr. Bitner has special interests in women’s wellness and prevention of heart disease, menopause, perimenopause, libido concerns, metabolic syndrome, and pelvic surgery. She is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

– Submitted by Angela Crawford

Five New Habits To Start In The New Year

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By By Carmella Sebastian, MD, MS

newyearsThe start of a new year always brings resolutions to eat better, get in better shape or lose weight. Don’t get me wrong; these are all great resolutions, but they don’t always last. By February, most of us revert back to our old ways. Why is that? Well, we tend to go full throttle making all of these big changes all at once. My advice to make healthy habits last is by starting out small. Make one small change at a time. Once that change becomes a habit, move onto the next. For example, take habit #1 and incorporate it into your life for 2 weeks or until it sticks. It sticking means that you can do it most days of the week without even thinking about it. When #1 is “stuck”, add #2 and so on.

Here are five new habits to start in the New Year that are easy to incorporate into your daily life and can result in meaningful weight loss:

1. Ditch the elevator; take the stairs
It’s been said that you can lose three pounds a year by simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Work on the 20th floor of a building? No problem. Take the elevator to the 15th floor and take the stairs the rest of the way. Climbing one flight of stairs burns 10 calories, so if you walk up those five flights to your office, you have easily burned 50 calories in just a couple of minutes. In fact, just walk as much as possible. Going to the store or running errands? Park your car as far away from the entrance as possible.

2. Eat breakfast
It really is the most important meal of the day, that’s not just a catchy slogan or successful marketing phrase. After sleeping for hours at night, your body wakes up in starvation mode. Your body needs the fuel to kick start your metabolism and give you energy for the rest of the day. Studies have shown that breakfast eaters do better at work than non-breakfast eaters. They also maintain a healthy weight easier than their non-breakfast counterparts. It does not have to be fancy. A little oatmeal, a piece of whole wheat toast or some Greek yogurt will get you going.

waterbottle3. Drink more water
Water is important to every system in our body. It flushes out toxins, boosts metabolism, helps build muscle, carries nutrients, and so on. It’s also calorie free and can help you feel full. You should aim to drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. If you’re a soda drinker, even diet, try swapping one soda a day for water until you’re off soda completely. Cutting just one 140-calorie soda a day equals skipping enough calories to lose 14 pounds in a year. Imagine if you cut more than one soda out of your day.

4. 10 minutes of meditation a day
Too much stress can lead to an imbalance of hormones and can cause weight gain. Take 10 minutes a day to sit in meditation. Allow the stress you feel to fade away. Think about your blessings and just take deep breaths. I used to sit in my car in the garage (with the motor off!) at the end of the day before I left the “work day” and entered the “mommy night”. I swear that it kept me sane.

Plate your food in the kitchen and take it to the dining room table to eat…..

5. Plate your food in the kitchen and take it to the dining room table to eat
This will not only help you control your initial portion size, but will prevent you from going back for seconds. Platters and bowls of food on the dining room table are just asking to be eaten. Sitting down at the table also helps you to consciously and slowly eat your food. Standing up while eating or eating in front of the TV can result in mindless eating or overeating. Plus it takes 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach it is full, so eat slowly and enjoy your food.

Start by incorporating just one of these new habits into your daily life. Once it becomes automatic, which may take a couple of weeks to a month, add another one. These little changes can add up to big weight loss and a healthier YOU.

Carmella Sebastian, MD, MS, is board certified in internal medicine and holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration. Dr. Carm, as she’s known, is a nationally renowned wellness educator with a special interest in women at mid-life and women’s health. Dr. Carm can be followed on Twitter – @Dr_Carm

What Causes Childhood Obesity? – Part 48

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As many of my regular viewers to this web blog know, there are many factors contributing to childhood obesity. I post daily here about it, whether news print articles, opinions, feedback, or just personal opinion.

Recently, I wrote an article for Yahoo! (click here) about childhood obesity. I started searching for sources for this article, and received over 100 responses to the question, “What do you think caused the rise in childhood obesity?” Responses came from professional and Olympic athletes, fitness experts, health experts, nutritionist, and parents.

I was unable to use everyone’s feedback, but thought it would be great to post some of their responses on my blog in a new web series, “What Causes Childhood Obesity.” I hope that you enjoy the opinions here from various individuals. Please remember, my including their posts does not necessarily mean I agree or endorse their opinion, rather, a place to share other people’s thoughts.

Keeping Kids Fit

Opinion: Ari Levy, MD

I think that a lack of accountability is at the heart of the childhood obesity epidemic. Parents need to take responsibility and help kids get active. Telling them to get off the couch isn’t enough—and you can’t assume the schools are handling our childrens’ health literacy. We used to be able to count more on our schools to make sure kids got time to run around and get active during the school day—unfortunately, that’s not the case these days. Budget cuts have impacted PE, and recent studies have found that kids simply aren’t moving enough. It’s on parents to fill that void and make physical activity a fun part of daily life. Parents need to make health and well-being a value and demonstrate that to their kids.

I think one thing that will make a long-term difference is education. Kids need to know how to eat well. They need to know how to set goals for their health. They need to want to get active. It comes down to having a champion dedicated to empowering kids with the knowledge and accountability to succeed.

– Ari Levy, MD, Co-CEO, Engaged Health Solutions