Do Older Moms Live Longer?

By Riva Preil

According to NPR, a recent study published in the journal Menopause revealed that women who gave birth to their last child after the age of thirty three are twice as likely to live until the age of ninety five (or beyond!) when compared to women who birthed their last child before age twenty nine.

Thomas Perls, a geriatrician at Boston Medical Center, hypothesizes that the ability to conceive at more advanced ages is correlated with a SLOWLY AGING BODY, including the reproductive system.  Other research suggests that there may be a genetic connection between longevity and the ability to bear children later in life.

However you slice it, it would be incorrect to state that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between birthing at later ages and living longer.  After all, there is a degree of CHOICE involved with conception.  Older women may choose to use contraception even if they theoretically have the ability to conceive.

Therefore, a different and possibly more accurate factor to consider is the age of menopause.  This component accounts for the length of an individual’s reproductive ability, and it would be fascinating to explore whether or not there is a connection between this process (which is NOT in the woman’s control) and longevity.

Time will tell…let the research begin!  Until then, may ALL pregnant women have happy, healthy, and safe pregnancies and long happy lives!

Experiments with Estrogen

By Riva Preil

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has received mixed reviews in the medical community. A wide variety of research has been performed to assess the pros and cons, especially regarding the use of estrogen. The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) studied the effects of conjugated equine estrogen, the most popular type of post-menopausal estrogen replacement. The study revealed that usage of this type of estrogen was correlated with development of cognitive issues and dementia in women aged 65 and older. The question of whether or not estrogen had similar effects on younger post-menopausal women was not addressed until a recent study, the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study of Younger Women (WHIMSY). WHIMSY analyzed the effect of the same medications on younger aged women, specifically women who initiated treatment between the ages of 50 and 55. The results of the study, which were published in JAMA Internal Medicine on June 24, 2013, revealed that there was no significant difference in cognitive function or memory abilities between women who had received HRT compared to those who had not. It is unclear why the women receiving HRT a decade younger in the WHIMSY study did not develop the same cognitive issues as the women in the WHIMS study. Based on the research, Dr. Susan Resnick (of the National Institute on Aging) suggests “taking these types of estrogen based hormone therapies for a relatively short period of time in…early postmenopausal years may not put [women] at increased risk for cognitive decline over the long term.” If you have any questions regarding whether or not this medication is appropriate for you or someone you know, please consult with your physician.