Unlocking Your Best Health: An Asian Woman’s Prescription During the Menopause Journey

Asian woman in menopause

Having symptoms like hot flashes, muscle pain and joint stiffness, loss of libido (sexual desire), or forgetfulness? These are some of the symptoms most frequently reported by Asian women+ on the menopause journey. This normal stage of life may provide extra motivation to focus on your health and well-being. This prescription for better health considers health risks for Asian women+ and the best ways to prevent these conditions so you can enjoy a better quality of life and perhaps live longer.

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    An Asian woman’s prescription for health

    Focusing on your health during the menopause journey can not only help reduce the severity and frequency of menopause symptoms, but taking action now will increase the likelihood of avoiding chronic conditions (or mitigating their impact). 

    The Asian woman’s prescription for health includes understanding the risks and preventive steps one can take to improve overall well-being.

    As an entire population, the top chronic conditions in the Asian population include:

    • cancer
    • heart disease
    • stroke
    • diabetes
    • liver disease

    However, the Asian community is quite diverse, and some of the risks and medical conditions that individuals experience may vary depending on their ethnic subgroup.

    For example, liver cancer is more common in those who are Laotioan, and cervical cancer can be seen more frequently in Hmong women. And the prevalence of diabetes is higher in the Filipino and Indian communities.

    Ethnicity % of the Asian Population
    Chinese (not including Taiwanese*) 22%
    Indian 20%
    Filipino 18%
    Vietnamese 10%
    Korean 8%
    Japanese 7%

    Source: U.S. Census

    *Because of the structure of the questions in the U.S. census, it is more difficult to know the number of Taiwanese people. The Pew Research Center estimated it to be close to 700,000 for the time period of the census information above.

    A study of Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese women found:

    • Chinese women reported the highest rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), lung conditions like asthma, headaches, and mental health issues.
    • Filipino women experienced the greatest rates of cancer, seizures, tobacco use, and substance use disorder.
    • Vietnamese women were found to have the highest rates of diabetes, stroke, and ulcer.

    And Southeast Asian refugees have been found by the CDC to be at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to trauma experienced both before and after immigration to the U.S.

    Factors that impact health

    So, what factors might account for the differences? They include those that fall into the category of social determinants of health (SDOH). Among them are income and education levels, access to quality healthcare and health insurance, and language fluency.

    Variations may also be seen depending on a person’s culture and health beliefs, as well as whether you were born in the U.S. or if you immigrated (57% of the Asian Community as a whole).

    And, if you have immigrated, the number of years you have lived in the U.S. and how much you may have taken on the often unhealthy habits so common in America, (which have resulted in close to 33% of people being obese) also make a difference.

    Additionally, bias/discrimination/racism also play a role and contribute to medical gaslighting. In turn, the negative experiences to which people are sometimes subjected may mean they put off seeking preventive care or seeing a healthcare practitioner until they are very ill.

    Let’s break down some of these health risks and disparities. They include:

    • Diabetes – could be impacted by menopause
    • Mental health – could be impacted by menopause
    • Osteoporosis – impacted by menopause 
    • Cancer
    • Infection-related cancers
    • How well medication is metabolized
    doctor testing a woman's blood sugar for diabetes

    Diabetes

    At this stage of your life, you probably know someone who has diabetes. Or you may have the condition yourself.

    Even if your blood sugar (glucose) levels have been under good control, the menopause journey can make them more difficult to manage.

    The number of people with diabetes continues to rise significantly each year in the U.S. The rate is increasing in many other parts of the world as well. India (type 2), China (type 2) and Pakistan (type 1) are among the top 10 countries with regard to the prevalence of the condition.

    In the U.S., certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk of diabetes, including within the Asian community. 

    CDC infographic on hispanic and asian diabetes risk

    Diabetes health risks

    Diabetes is the number one cause of adult blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations in the U.S.

    Women+ are at greater risk of these complications, as well as depression associated with the condition.

    Diabetes also increases the risk of:

    And diabetes is the 8th leading cause of death.

    There is a condition called prediabetes during which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. However, prediabetes also increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, as well as the chance of evolving to a diagnosis of diabetes.

    How diabetes can affect women

    Diabetes in women+ can also impact:

    • libido (decreases sexual desire)
    • comfort and pleasure during penetrative sex (decreased due to greater likelihood of vaginal dryness and decreased blood flow)
    • likelihood of UTIs (increased frequency)

    All of these issues can also be seen as a result of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), with intensification of those types of symptoms if you have diabetes.

    In addition to the potentially increased challenges in managing blood sugar levels during the menopause journey due to hormonal fluctuations, the same may happen during perimenopausal periods. Your periods may also involve heavier bleeding or last longer, and you may experience intensified food cravings.

    Risk factors

    Besides race/ethnicity, risk factors for diabetes include:

    • First-degree relative with diabetes (type 2)
    • Having a personal history of gestational (during pregnancy) diabetes or delivery of a baby who weighs 9 pounds or more
    • Prediabetes
    • Overweight/obesity with visceral fat (internal fat around the organs)
    • Age 45 or older
    • Being physically active less than 3 times a week
    • Having fatty liver disease

    In general, other communities of color are also at higher risk.

    It’s important to know that in the Asian community, overweight/obesity as a risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes may be experienced at a lower weight, waist circumference, and percentage body fat than in other racial groups.

    CDC Diabetes Report Card
    Source: CDC

    Types of diabetes

    There are two types of diabetes:

    • Type 1

      In type 1 diabetes, the body experiences an autoimmune process that stops the pancreas from secreting insulin. Insulin is used to take glucose into your cells to be used for energy and also to help the liver store blood sugar for future use.

    An estimated 5 – 10% of those with diabetes have type 1. Because no insulin is made, people with the condition need to take insulin daily (unless you are a candidate for a pancreatic islet cell transplantation).

    • Type 2

      In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it effectively. As a result, it is difficult to keep blood sugar at normal levels.

      For individuals with type 2 diabetes, symptoms may take a while to appear. When they do present, they include:

      • Urinating more than usual
      • Feeling very thirsty or hungry even after eating
      • Feeling fatigued
      • Blurred vision
      • Having frequent infections or slow-healing cuts or sores (e.g., bottom of your feet, toes)
      • Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1 diabetes)
      • Having tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (type 2 diabetes)

    Reducing the risk of a diabetes diagnosis

    You can reduce the risk of a diabetes diagnosis with a healthy lifestyle. If you focus on some of these healthy habits, you can also manage menopause symptoms better.

    Focus on:

    Additionally, it’s important to get tested for diabetes, especially if you’re at increased risk for developing it.

    Managing diabetes

    If you’re diagnosed, it’s important to manage it to prevent other health concerns and complications.

    Take your medication regularly if it’s needed to control sugar levels. 

    And don’t forget the need for vaccinations, as your risk for developing infections increases.

    Regular visits with your healthcare practitioner and any specialists (like an endocrinologist) that may be needed to help manage your diabetes care and following guidelines are also key to getting the guidance you need.

    Asian woman thinking about mental health

    Mental health in Asian women+

    Are you feeling sad, anxious, tense, or feeling like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster during the menopause journey? You may feel this way even if you’ve always been someone who can roll with the changes in life.

    Are you experiencing a flare-up of a preexisting history of depression? Is all of this seeming to come out of the blue?

    It’s not your imagination! During the menopause journey, women+ are at increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder related to the hormonal transition underway.

    And with all the other life changes which may also be happening simultaneously, plus everything going on in the world in general, you may be feeling emotional distress often.

    What’s the model minority?

    To add to the picture, some people also carry the burden of the myth of the “model minority.”

    The “model minority” refers to:

    “the systematic construction of people of Asian descent as representing successful assimilation into a white dominant society and as ‘living examples of advancement [i.e. academic achievement] in spite of the persistent color line and because of their racial (often coded as cultural) differences.”

    Besides lumping all Asian ethnicities into one group and thereby denying the diversity of the community and varying cultures, it also potentially sets up pressure and an expectation of educational perfection and financial success that may not be realistic or feasible depending on an individual’s life circumstances.

    For some people, the result can be stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

    On a day-to-day basis, members of the Asian community may also experience microaggressions [a comment or action that subtly, consciously, and sometimes unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)], which is a not infrequent occurrence in communities of color in general.

    In the U.S., there may be underreporting of symptoms by individuals when they have interactions with the healthcare system, particularly if they face bias/discrimination/racism or medical gaslighting. And they may also be underdiagnosed when they seek help.

    Research by SAMHSA indicates lower utilization of mental health services by the Asian community as a whole.

    A study sponsored by the National Asian Women’s Health Organization (NAWHO) found the following in 2001, all of which still appear to play a role in the lives of some Asian women+ even today:

    • “Conflicting cultural values are impacting Asian-American women’s sense of control over their life decisions.

    • Feeling responsible yet unable to meet biased and unrealistic standards set by families and society contributes to low self-esteem among Asian-American women.

    • Asian-American women witness depression in their families but have learned from their Asian cultures to maintain silence on the subject.

    • Asian-American women fear stigma for themselves, but more so for their families.”

    If you’re feeling a mix of emotions, a sense of uncertainty, anger, or even rage, remember you are not alone. The hormonal transition of the menopause journey can be disruptive.

    There are many options to address your needs, which vary depending on your particular situation and the severity of your symptoms.

    The most important thing is to recognize that it’s OK not to be OK and to seek help and support to make a change for the better!

    Asian woman looking at osteoporosis xray with doctor

    Osteoporosis 

    Osteoporosis means is a bone disease that develops when:

    • the structure and strength of your bone change and/or
    • bone mineral density and bone mass decrease

    As you age, your body loses more bone mass than it creates. And for those on the menopause journey, the drop in estrogen levels can also contribute to bone loss.

    Osteoporosis weakens your bones and increases your risk of breaking a bone even after a minor fall or bump. Every 3 seconds, someone breaks a bone worldwide because of osteoporosis.

    Despite the prevalence of osteoporosis, 80% of patients are undiagnosed and untreated even after a fracture. That’s why it’s important to get screened and understand risk factors.

    Signs of osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis commonly shows up as:

    • Loss of height (just over an inch).
    • Curved or stooped upper back.
    • You may also experience back pain.
    • Bone fracture (hip, wrist, spine).

    Risk factors

    Osteoporosis can be a concern at any stage of the menopause journey, but it’s common in post-menopause, with 50% of women+ having it at that point of the menopausal transition.

    Risk factors include:

    • Family history
    • Gender (80% of those with osteoporosis are women.)
    • Menopause (up to 20% bone loss during this time)
    • Specific menopause symptoms like hot flashes
    • Hysterectomy
    • Early menopause
    • Age
    • Previous break due to a minor fall
    • Medications (such as certain antidepressants, steroid hormones, diabetes, thyroid, proton pump inhibitors, certain types of chemotherapy)
    • Other diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, GI conditions like celiac disease, COPD, asthma, endocrine disorders, immobility, certain cancers like multiple myeloma, and dementia)
    • Cancer that spreads to the bone
    • Excessive alcohol (drinking two or more glasses of alcohol a day increases the risk of fracture)
    • Smoking
    • Low body mass index (below 19 is a significant risk factor)
    • Poor nutrition, malnutrition, and eating disorders
    • Low calcium intake (e.g., those who avoid dairy products due to lactose intolerance or milk sensitivity, vegans)
    • Vitamin D deficiency
    • Physical inactivity
    • Frequent falls
    • Race

    Health inequities

    Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in white and Asian women, with the highest fracture rates in white women.

    Race Have Osteoporosis
    Asian 20%
    White 20%
    Native American 12%
    Hispanic/Latina 10%
    Black 5%

    Sources: Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation & Osteoporosis in Females – StatPearls [Internet]

    Learn more about screening and treatment of osteoporosis and check out 28 exercises you can do at home to help prevent and manage it saftely.

    Asian cancer patient talking to doctor

    Cancer

    Overall, the Asian community as a whole has a lower incidence of cancer than those who are white. However, cancer is still very much an area of concern, particularly when (1) so many types are due to risks related to unhealthy lifestyles and (2) screening can detect many cancers at an early stage, which typically offers the greatest chance at cure.

    For Asian women+ as a group, the top 3 causes of cancer death (not including skin cancer) – breast, lung, and colorectal (CRC) – are the same as for women as a whole in the U.S. However, there are also cancers which are a greater threat for Asian women+ or are seen at a higher rate.

    According to the Rogel Cancer Center at the University of Michigan, the Asian population has lower rates of cancer screening, especially in the Korean community. With cancer, early diagnosis is key.

    1. Breast

    There is a great deal of variability when it comes to breast cancer in Asian women+.  Those at greatest risk are those who are:

    • Korean
    • Vietnamese
    • Filipina
    • Chinese
    • South Asian

    Your ethnicity, where you are born, and where you live matter. As a group, Asian women who immigrate and have lived ≥ 50% of their life in the United States have been found to be at higher risk, according to the CDC.

    However, in California, Filipina and Chinese women born in the U.S. were found to be at greater risk than those born outside of the U.S.

    Post-menopausal overweight/obesity, a risk factor for breast cancer, had a greater association in Asian women than other racial groups.

    Unfortunately, the incidence rate of breast cancer is increasing in Asian women+. And they are more likely to develop it at a younger age and to have a more aggressive form (HER-2 positive) of the cancer, which is also more likely to grow quickly, spread to the lymph nodes and brain, and come back after treatment.

    HER-2 positive breast cancer is also less likely to respond to standard breast cancer chemotherapy but may respond to targeted therapy.

    Breast cancer signs and symptoms

    Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

    • A breast lump
    • Breast or nipple pain
    • Nipple retraction (turning inwards) or discharge
    • Skin changes on the breast such as reddening, thickening, dryness or flaking
    • Breast swelling (full or partial)
    • Swollen lymph nodes

    Screening

    Thankfully, breast cancer screening is possible, which increases the chance of detecting a cancer at an early stage and a greater chance of cure. The 5-year survival rate for Stage 1 breast cancer is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society.

    Current guidelines suggest for those at average risk to start getting mammograms at age 40. However, be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner for guidance based on your personal situation, as age, frequency, and type of screening may be different in your case.

    Check out the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to see if you are eligible.

    2. Cervical

    Although most types of cervical cancer are most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44, 20% of people who develop it are actually 65 or older, according to the American Cancer Society.

    Symptoms you might experience are:

    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (e.g., between your periods, after sex, after menopause)
    • Unusual vaginal discharge
    • Pain during sexual intercourse.
    • Pelvic pain

    HPV infection is the most common cause of cervical cancer.

    Risk factors for cervical cancer include:

    • Family history of cervical cancer
    • Becoming sexually active at a young age (especially younger than 18 years old)
    • Having many sexual partners or a high-risk partner (e.g., has many sexual partners, has an HPV infection)
    • Having HIV
    • Smoking
    • History of having a chlamydia infection
    • History of full-term pregnancy prior to age 20 or history of 3 or more full-term pregnancies
    • Long-term use of birth control pills
    • DES exposure
    • Diet low in fruit and vegetables

    Check out the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to see if you are eligible.

    Check with your healthcare practitioner for guidance on screening (Pap smear and HPV testing) based on your personal situation. The age, frequency, and type of screening may be different in your particular case.

    3. Colorectal (CRC)

    In the U.S. population, colorectal cancer is on the rise in people younger than 55 and now accounts for 20% of those with the condition. In this age group most of the cancers are located in the rectum or left-side of the colon, increasing the likelihood of being found on screening.

    Additionally, rates in the Asian community as a whole have been declining, except for those who are Korean. The Korean population also has the lowest CRC screening rates across Asian ethnic groups.

    Risk factors include:

    • Family history of CRC
    • Vitamin D deficiency
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
    • Hereditary CRC syndromes (e.g., Lynch syndrome)
    • Obesity
    • Abdominopelvic radiation
    • Having cystic fibrosis
    • Diabetes
    • Consumption of red and processed meats

    There are several options for CRC screening, but colonoscopy remains the “gold standard.”

    Screening makes a difference. The 5-year survival rate for colon cancer in those who were diagnosed in Stage 1 is 91%, as reported by the American Cancer Society.

    Current guidelines for those at average risk recommend the start of screening at age 45.  It’s important to seek guidance from your healthcare practitioner for your personal situation, as age, frequency, and best screening approach may be different in your particular case.

    Learn more about colon cancer in Chinese, Hmong, Korean, and Vietnamese.

    Vietnamese doctor talking to doctor

    Infection-related cancers

    Cancers with links to an infectious agent are more common in the Asian community. Examples include:

    • HPV-related cervical cancer – Vietnamese women
    • Helicobacter pylori-related gastric (stomach) cancer – in the U.S., seen more often in those who are Korean or Japanese than other Asian ethnicities; rates 2.5 times higher in Korean women than those who are white
    • Liver and bile duct cancers – These two cancers combined account for 15 – 25% of cancer deaths in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean individuals.

    1. Gastric (stomach)

    Gastric cancer tends to grow slowly over the course of years and is usually asymptomatic in the early stages. Therefore, unless certain actions are taken, it is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage.

    If caught during stage 1, the 5-year survival is 70% vs. 7% for those diagnosed in stage 4.

    Symptoms include:

    • Feeling full quickly when eating
    • Poor appetite
    • Nausea, vomiting, indigestion
    • Pain or discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen
    • Unintentional weight loss

    Risk factors include:

    • Helicobacter pylori infection
    • Family history of gastric cancer
    • Immigration from a country where gastric cancer rates are high (e.g., Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Mongolia)
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Consumption of salt and salt-preserved food
    • Diet high in fried food, processed meat and smoked fish, and red meat plus low consumption of fruit and vegetables, milk, and vitamin A
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Smoking
    • Ebstein-Barr virus infection (EBV)
    • Gastric surgery
    • Atrophic gastritis
    • Consumption of nitrates
    • Prior radiation of the abdomen related to treatment of other types of cancer
    • CDH1, BRCA1, and BRCA2 gene mutations
    • Hereditary cancer syndromes (e.g., Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome)
    • Blood type A
    • Gastric polyps,
    • Gastric ulcer
    • Pernicious anemia

    Screening for gastric cancer

    Although gastric cancer is rare in general in the U.S. (1.5% of new cancers), across the globe, it is the 5th most common type of cancer and the 2nd most common cause of cancer deaths, with approximately 1 million new cases each year.

    In countries where gastric cancer is common, certain actions are taken to reduce the likelihood of developing gastric cancer or to catch it early if someone already has it. They include:

    • Proactive testing for H. pylori and treatment if found positive
    • Upper endoscopy with biopsy
    • Radiologic imaging
    • Biomarker testing

    In the U.S., screening of those at average risk is not routinely performed. However, if you are at high risk (e.g., first-degree relative with gastric cancer history, personal history of gastric surgery, being an immigrant from a country with a high incidence), speak with your healthcare practitioner about being screened.

    diagram of gallstones and stomach

    2. Liver (hepatic) and bile duct (cholangiocarcinoma)

    Like gastric cancer, liver and bile duct cancers are more common across the globe than in the U.S. For example, liver cancer is the 6th most common type overall, and the 9th most common in women.

    Death from liver cancer in the U.S. is more common in those of Laotian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian ancestry.

    And bile duct cancer is found most commonly in people who are East Asian (and South American).

    Liver cancer

    Liver cancer begins in liver cells called hepatocytes. 

    The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). And bile duct cancer accounts for 10 – 20% of liver cancers.

    Risk factors for liver cancer include:

    • conditions that can lead to cirrhosis (e.g., chronic hepatitis B or C, heavy alcohol use, fatty liver, primary biliary cirrhosis)
    • obesity
    • diabetes
    • aflatoxins (a type of fungus that can contaminate peanuts, ground nuts, wheat, soybeans, corn, and rice)
    • hemochromatosis
    • anabolic steroids
    Infection with the hepatitis B virus is more common in Asian countries, while hepatitis C is more common in the U.S. However, both viruses can be seen in many parts of the world.
     

    Bile duct cancer

    Bile duct cancer (intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma) begins in cells that line the bile ducts, which are tubes in the liver that carry bile from the gallbladder to the intestines.

    Bile aids in digestion. It is secreted by the liver and is stored in the gallbladder.

    Risk factors for bile duct cancer include:

    • infection with the parasitic liver fluke
    • bile duct stones
    • ulcerative colitis
    • primary sclerosing cholangitis
    • Caroli’s syndrome 
    • exposure to chemicals like dioxins, asbestos polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), nitrosamines, radon, or Thorotrast contrast dye (not used since the 1950s)

    Symptoms

    Liver and bile duct cancer have several symptoms in common. They include:

    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), which may be accompanied by itching
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Abdominal pain
    • Unintentional weight loss

    With liver cancer there can also be an enlarged liver and/spleen on abdominal exam and/or fluid (ascites) in the abdominal cavity. Dark urine and light-colored or greasy stools are also seen in bile duct cancer.

    Preventing these cancers

    Thankfully, several of the risk factors are ones over which you have some degree of control. There are tests available to detect both hepatitis B and C. If you are found to be negative for the virus, there is a vaccine series you can take to prevent hepatitis B (80 – 10% effective), and if you are found to be positive, there is a medication regimen that has a high cure rate (98%) for hepatitis C!

    Anabolic steroids (used by athletes to build muscle mass) and alcohol can be avoided altogether.

    As is frequently the case with regard to many conditions and several cancers, living a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of contributory factors like obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver.

    And remember, taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle can also help (1) reduce the severity and frequency of menopausal symptoms and (2) reduce the chance of developing many of the physical and mental health conditions for which the risk increases due to the hormonal changes which occur during this stage of life!

    Gray haired Asian woman smiling

    Metabolism of medications

    Certain genetic variants seen in the Asian community can impact how well certain medications are metabolized (processed), which in turn can affect how well a drug may work, the type and severity of side effects [e.g., Stevens‒Johnson syndrome (SJS) – a drug reaction marked by flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful, blistering rash that spreads, causing the top layer of skin to die and shed], and differences with regard to adverse drug interactions.

    These differences are seen more commonly in those of this descent:

    • South Asian
      • Bangladesh
      • Bhutan
      • India
      • Pakistan
      • Nepal
      • Sri Lanka
      • Afghanistan
      • Maldives
    • East Asian
      • China
      • Taiwan
      • Hong Kong
      • Japan
      • Korea
      • Macau
      • Mongolia
      • North Korea
      • South Korea
      • Taiwan

    Some have proposed that differences in eating patterns, use of herbal medications, and higher consumption of green tea may also contribute to the picture.

    Some of the medications include:

    • Anti-depressants – SSRIs (increased risk of abnormal heart rhythm) and tricyclics (potential suboptimal response)
    • Anti-fungal – voriconazole (decreased effectiveness, increased risk of rash, visual disturbances, toxic effect on liver and nervous systems, inflammation of the connective tissues surrounding bones)
    • Anti-psychotics – haloperidol, clozapine, quetiapine, aripiprazole, and lurasidone (reach higher drug levels in the blood for a given dose)
    • Blood thinners – clopidogrel (reduces effectiveness), warfarin (increases blood thinning effect)
    • Cancer medication – Tamoxifen (lower blood drug concentrations and effectiveness), thiopurines (increased risk of bone marrow suppression)
    • Gout medication – allopurinol (increased risk of SJS and TENS)
    • Seizure medication – carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin (increased risk of SJS and TENS – toxic epidermal necrolysis: a life-threatening skin disorder marked by blistering and peeling of the skin)
    Drug Category Community Affected
    Anti-Depressants East Asian
    Anti-Fungal East Asian
    Antipsychotics East Asian
    Blood Thinners East Asian
    Cancer Medication East Asian
    Gout Medication East and Central Asian
    Seizure Medication East and Central Asian

    Given the potential impact on drug treatment regimens and your health, it’s important to have a discussion with your healthcare practitioner when medications are prescribed and to ask if you need pharmacogenomic testing before the start of certain medications to determine if you have any of the applicable genetic variants. 

    Pharmacogenomic testing “allows for the detection of genomic factors linked to differences in drug response before treatment, ensuring that the benefit of a medication is maximized without the unintended consequences of ADRs.” (ADRs = adverse drug reactions)

    Here is a drug interaction checker that may be helpful during your conversation with your healthcare practitioner.

    Asian woman in middle age ready to make a change for the better

    You can make a change for the better!

    While the menopause journey can be challenging both physically and emotionally, investing time in learning as much as you can about this stage of your life, as well as risks and health conditions that may come into play, will reap benefits both now and in the future. As they say, knowledge is power.

    Living a healthy lifestyle and learning self-advocacy skills to get the care you need and deserve will go a long way in helping to manage your menopausal symptoms and optimize your overall health and well-being in the long term.

    Resources

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    Be Less Stressed

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    In general, women's health is woefully underfunded.

    Most medical and scientific research has historically focused on white males.

    Research for communities of color (as well as the LGBTQIA+ community), is woefully inadequate.

    More needs to be done to ensure members of these communities are included in research and clinical trials.

    The research we do have often does not take into account the diversity that exists and the health and healthcare differences that may be seen with regard to people:
  • who have immigrated vs. those born in the U.S. and
  • between ethnicities within a race

  • There may also be inconsistency from study to study with regard to how participants are grouped (e.g., based on language, ethnicity, and immigration status), so it can become more difficult to glean insights or know which study is more accurate if conclusions differ.

    And it can be challenging to find studies regarding Hispanic women+/Latinas specifically vs. the entire community as whole. All of that to say, the research, though important and valuable, is sometimes not as detailed and specific as we would like because the data may not yet be available.

    pausitive health is an inclusive digital menopause community that understands every menopause journey is unique, and being a woman+ of color can be one factor that makes it unique. That's why we've built a library of content for women of color and a prescription for health series that focuses on improving health and well-being for women of color.+

    Your health and well-being is critical during menopause, and there's no better time than this journey to focus on taking care of yourself.

    Asian American Health | Office of Minority Health

    Defining Diaspora: Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Identities | California State University San Marcos

    Torre LA, Sauer AMG, Moon S. Chen MS, et.al. Cancer statistics for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, 2016: Converging incidence in males and females. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Volume 66 (3) May/June 2016, p. 182-202.

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