Remember, Our Gray Matter Matters (and a Giveaway!)

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Women's Brain Health Initiative

A post by Lynn Posluns, Founder & President of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative:

I do wonder if it’s distraction when I can’t find my car in the parking lot…or if something more serious is going on. And it scares me.

What is more frightening is learning that almost 70% of new Alzheimer’s sufferers will be women[1], but research today still focuses on men. Even at the grass roots level of research, it is the male rat that’s studied because the hormones in the female rat make it too complex[2]. Whoa.

Scientists recognized twenty years ago that a man’s heart attack was different from a woman’s, and addressing those differences meant a healthier outcome for both.

Naturally, I wondered who was studying the female aging brain to understand where differences occurred, and what was being done about it – I was flabbergasted to discover the real lack of female-based research.

In the U.S. someone new succumbs to Alzheimer’s – the most prevalent form of dementia – every 68 seconds[3]. Worldwide, there are more than 35 million people living with dementia. This number will more than triple by 2050 to over 115 million! [4] The cost of care in the U.S. alone will be over $1.2 trillion.[5]

When symptoms surface it is likely that the damage to the brain began 10 to 20 years prior.[6] There are no survivors of Alzheimer’s. If you do not die from Alzheimer’s disease, you die with it.[7]

Women, as the major caregivers, and the most susceptible, will be hardest hit.

Once I was armed with all this great news about the future of women’s brain health, I had to decide what I was going to do about it.

The more I learned, the more compelled I felt to raise money to fund research to combat women’s brain aging disorders. No stranger to fundraising, I created the Women’s Brain Health Initiative.

Our promise is a simple one –

We cannot and will not forget the women in our lives.

We will not forget that women are twice as likely to become victims of aging brain disorder – the most significant health and social crisis facing the world.

We cannot forget that there is neither a theory to explain this nor a will to find one.

And we will not stand idly by and wait for this oncoming disaster to strike without raising a finger to stop it.

Our mandate is therefore clear and resolute.

We will raise awareness of this imminent crisis, as well as raise money to combat it.

We will focus on the stories of those affected instead of just those afflicted, and will raise a global movement inspired to combat women’s brain aging disorders through investment in focused and innovative research.

As I build this new global foundation, I haven’t lost sight of all the women who are frightened because there is a history of dementia in their families, or are frightened because they don’t know where to get the information they need to make critical decisions for themselves or a loved one.

The Women’s Brain Health Initiative is for women like them. Like us. Committed to sharing information about what researchers are currently studying and what their findings will mean to all of us.

For example, new research has shown that the incidence of dementia increases 140% if you have a hysterectomy and both ovaries removed before natural menopause[8].

That you’re more likely to succumb to Alzheimer’s if your mother had it than if your father did[9].

And that the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are lifestyle related and are not caused by a genetic predisposition[10].

The good news is that it’s not too late to make some effective changes that will have a positive influence on how one ages.

There is lots of evidence that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain.

Research has shown that good eating habits, exercise, and social connectivity will all have a positive impact on your brain health[11].

To learn more about us, please visit http://womensbrainhealth.org.  Together, we can make a difference for women everywhere.

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is purchasing and giving away two stainless steel Hope-Knot pins.  Read more about the Hope-Knot here.  To enter the giveaway, simply post a comment by June 20 saying that you would like to win a pin.

wbhi_steel_pin01_medium

Lynn Posluns is Founder and President of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative, the global foundation raising money for research and education to combat women’s aging brain disorders.

Since graduating from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in Commerce & Finance, and an MBA, Lynn has held a number of positions within the Retail and Fashion industries. Lynn is currently Managing Director of Cedarpoint Investments Inc., a private equity and alternative investments firm based in Toronto.

Lynn has been involved in many philanthropic causes within the healthcare, education, fashion and arts industries, raising millions of dollars for these and other worthy causes. In 2010 Lynn won the Baycrest Award for Foundation Leadership. In 2012 she received the ICRF Women of Action award for Philanthropy and also the Women’s Executive Network’s prestigious “Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women” Award, which celebrates the professional achievements of women across the country in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Lynn

Footnotes:

[1] Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, 2010, Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society

[2] Sari Harrar, September 2008, Of Mice and Women: Testing Lab Animals to Understand Our Health, O, The Oprah Magazine

Sue Pigg, March 19, 2011 Minnie Mouse Left Out of Laboratory Research, Toronto Star

[3] World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s International, 2012, Dementia: A Public Health Priority

[4] Alzheimer’s Association, 2012, 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Volume 8, Issue 2.

[5] Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

[6] Dr. Reisa A. Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Harvard Medical School, June 2012, http://www.aaas.org/news/release/2012/0627aging_brain.shtml

[7] Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

[8] William H. Parker, Vanessa Jacoby, Donna Shoupe & Walter Rocca, 2009, Effect of Bilateral Oophorectomy on Women’s Long-term Health Women’s Health 5(5) 565-567, Future Medicine

[9] American Academy of Neurology, February 28, 2011, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_release/20110-02/aaon-met022211.php

[10] Identical Twins Study, Alzheimer’s Society Canada, April 18, 2012, http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Risk-factors

[11] Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, Risk Factors, http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Risk-factors

20 responses »

  1. Why am I not surprised that brain research didn’t include women? There are so many factors impinging on clinical research in this country; here’s to a healthy lifestyle! Lovely pin btw

  2. Thank you for this incredibly informative post. There was so much I wasn’t aware of, like; “the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are lifestyle related and are not caused by a genetic predisposition.” And the same heart-health things we do can improve our chances of preventing Alzheimer’s? This is all news to me. Good news, actually. The bad news is, like you said, there doesn’t seem to be the will to research. This is a great initiative. I hope it grows like crazy.

    My husband has a dear woman cousin who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her daughter had to move her into an assisted living facility, which caused a great deal of strife. Luckily, her daughter received some counseling to help her learn how to deal with the anger that her mother was showing. Things have gotten better since she has learned how NOT to react. But, of course, everything’s changed, and as you said, there is no way out of this. My husband calls his cousin often and has learned to talk about the old days, and avoid conversation about the day-to-day living, as this just confuses her and makes her angry. He misses his cousin, even though she’s still here. It’s hard for everyone.

    Thank you, again. And, yes, I would like to win a pin.

    • Thanks for your comments Patti.
      The stress on caregivers can be severe and in turn can lead to dementia. Unfortunately when someone is afflicted, many family members are affected. There are some helpful tips on the Women’s Brain Health initiative blog that might prove useful to your husband’s cousin.

  3. My mom is in assisted living for the past year due to her vascular dementia. 20 years ago they didn’t know as much as we do now about how much lifestyle choices impact our long-term health. My mom is 21 years older than me and it was a huge wake-up call for me – enough to get me off the couch and exercising! The truth is that it can happen to any one of us and the time to take action is NOW.

    BTW those pins are beautiful and I would be proud to wear one!

  4. Such a wonderful post – thank you! I am the daughter of someone with dementia and feel myself sliding down the same slippery path. It’s no end scary, I can tell you!! Thank you for your important work. I hope we can wake up researchers to do the work they need to do. Women are overlooked WAY too much in this world. (Lovely pin!)

  5. Thank you Lynn for this great iniative and your commitment to this. It is so uplifting to see a young woman such as yourself working to help other women ❤ I too, will share this link on my FB page. Love the design of the pin! I would be honored to wear it. God Bless.

  6. Beautiful pin, and love your blog! I just discovered it and can easily see it becoming part of my morning coffee routine. I am in surgical menopause at 41, and this article hit home since I’ve been concerned about dementia and other issues since I can’t take hormone replacement due to having had cancer. Even more reason to get out there and exercise!

  7. You just might be able to persuade me, I will email you when I have a little more coffee in my system, lol.

  8. Pingback: Weekly Chronicles: Minneapolis Edition

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