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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Women Using the Birth Control pill may be Shrinking their Brains


Oral contraceptive pills which are used to prevent pregnancy by the majority of women in the United States, contain synthetic steroid hormones --neigher genuine bioidentical estradiol nor genuine bioidentical progesterone -----that may affect the brain's structure and function.
While these studies show the hazards of these two componenets of the biirth contol pills most used by women today, the component toxic steroidal synthetics are handed out like candy to women, both Transgender and Cis Gender as part of hormone replacement therapies.
Dr. Larry Cahill, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California-Irvine and a co-author of the study, said he’s amazed at the lack of research considering how long the pill has been on the market: “You might think after 50 years and hundreds of millions of women taking various incarnations of the pill, there would be a large and cohesive and impressive body of evidence on it, but there’s next to nothing. I honestly find that amazing.”
Cahill also said that he and his fellow researchers, by challenging established assumptions (otherwise called “prejudice”), have experienced “road blocks” in trying to publish their findings, because they are often dismissed as being “alarmist.”
However, he believes that as a scientist, it’s important to continue to study the potentially good, bad or neutral effects of a medication that millions of women use for large portions of their life. He said:
“If I’m a woman on the pill, or I know a woman who’s on the pill…or I have a daughter who wants to go on the pill, you want to operate from knowledge, not from complete lack of knowledge.
In this investigation, the researcher tested the hypothesis that OC use is associated with differences in brain structure using a hypothesis-driven, surface-based approach. They found that the two main regions of the brain controlling emotion and decision-making are thinner in women who take the pill.
A study published April 2 in the journal Human Brain Mapping reports that the pill’s chemicals block the body’s natural hormones, altering the brain’s structure and function.
The study compared the cortical thickness of brain regions that participate in the salience network and the default mode network, as well as the volume of subcortical regions in these networks
In neuroscience, the default mode network (DMN) is a network of brain regions that are active when the individual is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest. Also called the default network, default state network, or task-negative network, the DMN is characterized by coherent neuronal oscillations at a rate lower than 0.1 Hz (one every ten seconds).
During goal-oriented activity, the DMN is deactivated and another network, the task-positive network (TPN) is activated. The DMN may correspond to task-independent introspection, or self-referential thought, while the TPN corresponds to action, and thus perhaps the DMN and TPN may be "considered elements of a single default network with anti-correlated components"
NOTE: We have posted numerous times on the extraordinary nature of the state of the art discoveries in the function and interaction of these two networks.
It was concluded that oral contraceptive use “was associated with significantly lower cortical thickness measurements in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex.”
These regions are believed to be important for responding to rewards and evaluating internal states/incoming stimuli, respectively.
The orbitofrontal cortex controls decision-making and the posterior cigulate manages emotions. And among the women studied, both of these two areas were smaller than average in those taking the pill.
Although Cahill cautioned against a panic or alarm because of the recent study, he said it raises further questions for research that are important to the millions of women who use oral contraceptives every day. For example, follow-up studies are needed to determine whether the thinning effect is permanent, or whether it just occurs if a woman is currently using the pill.
In April 2011, Cahill and three other researchers found that the emotional memory of women using hormonal contraception was more similar to that of men than of women.
Dr. Cahill said these studies are part of a growing body of research on sex differences in the brain, which is challenging the long-held assumption that men and women are mostly biologically the same, save for their reproductive organs:
“We’re all blinded by our assumptions, and there’s simply been an assumption…that any differences between (men and women) occur in the bikini zone and that’s it. And now we’re realizing, well, no. There’s sex differences all over the place. It’s important that we stop assuming that women are just men with pesky hormones.”