“The rallying cry I use for my patients is ‘Get a (mid)life!’ and the solution is to use the time early in life to really take stock of their health and have a plan for their future health,” noted Dr. Smith. “Women tend to put everyone else first in their family and rarely address their own issues, which puts them at a huge disadvantage as they age.”
Dr. Smith’s entire career has been focused on helping women. She began practicing medicine nearly 30 years ago as an OBGYN. In 1993 she was the first physician in Kansas City to begin prescribing bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. In 2005 she opened the Midlife Wellness Center to further help women with their health needs.
“It’s really important to make that decision and put energy and thought into building your midlife plan. If you perform a health assessment and come up with a strategy, you’ll do well in midlife,” stated Dr. Smith. “You shouldn’t enter this period of your life and then slide downhill into poor health and a poor quality of life. Create a midlife for yourself by doing the maintenance that is required. Look at the diagram with this story. Choose to be patient A, not patient B–you deserve a midlife.”
Dr. Smith advises women to have a complete and thorough assessment of their physical and mental condition to begin building that strategy. At Midlife Wellness Center, Dr. Smith asks her patients to complete an extensive assessment; together you’ll review in depth your hormonal health, nutritional health, metabolic health, immune health and preventive health. This initial evaluation at the Midlife Wellness Center lasts approximately two to two and a half hours and includes a far-reaching question and answer session with Dr. Smith as she investigates a patient’s health concerns. Coupled with this extensive discussion are lab tests, which identify key levels of hormones and other health indicators. From this data, she will compose a personalized wellness plan to answer client concerns and construct a healthy lifestyle strategy.
“We shouldn’t assume that a woman’s health concerns in midlife are simply related to hormone levels. Perhaps your issues are due to metabolic or immune system problems,” remarked Dr. Smith. “As I go through this extensive questionnaire with my patients, we’ll talk about lifestyle, exercise, wellbeing, nutrition, environmental and other factors. This critical feedback may signal this is not a hormonal issue. Unfortunately, I’ve seen far too many women who are unhappy with their current treatment because practitioners haven’t solved their problems and are merely prescribing hormone replacement as the answer to all problems.”
As she works with a patient, Dr. Smith will delve into three key areas, the first being nutrition, which is always important, but as you age, it becomes even more vital that you provide your body with good fuel. Nutrition even affects how hormones function in the body. At your consultation, Dr. Smith will review any concerns you have regarding weight. A strategy will be developed to help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for weight-related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
Dr. Smith will also discuss preventive health advice for her patients. It’s a fact that most diseases don’t just suddenly appear; they result from years of neglect and abuse. Dr. Smith will help you recognize the early warning signs of disease and make suggestions so that you can live a healthier midlife. “Middle-aged women can get lost in the cracks when it comes to healthcare,” noted Dr. Smith. “Being a female gives me a very important perspective in helping my clients because I’ve experienced many of the issues they have. I’m a female who is very invested in helping females with health issues.”
In addition, Dr. Smith urges her patients to pass this “Get a (mid)life” mentality and development of a vigorous lifestyle plan onto the next generation so that they benefit, too. “I tell my patients to share what they learn with their daughters to ensure they are more aware than we were,” stated Dr. Smith. HLM
To learn more about Midlife Wellness Center, call816-587-7979or visit the website at midlifewellnesscenter.com.
Dr. Brenda Smith:
As a woman, a mother of two daughters and a physician who treats only women, Dr. Brenda Smith, board-certified OB/GYN, has an intense interest in fighting breast cancer.
She notes that the majority of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease. “The informal statistic that has made the biggest impression on me is that it seems we all know someone impacted by breast cancer,” stated Dr. Smith. “Even though we’re aware of breast cancer, most women don’t understand what they can do to reduce their risk of this dreaded disease.”
RISK FACTORS ARE INTERCONNECTED.
Dr. Smith has counseled women for many years with expertise in hormonal systems, nutrition, metabolism, brain neurotransmitters, immune and preventative health. She opened the Midlife Wellness Center in 2005 to provide the time and individual attention needed for women at midlife. Dr. Smith says that damaging your cellular DNA, constantly stimulating cells to divide and depressing the immune system are conditions conducive to cancer. For women there are four primary risk factors for breast cancer: genetic, hormonal, nutritional and environmental.
“The body is complex and interconnected, so all of these risk factors overlap and can influence each other,” she revealed. “You may have a genetic risk, but if you control the other factors, your overall risk can be diminished.” She offers the following guidelines to help you increase your awareness of breast cancer and increase your odds of preventing it.
Arm yourself with the facts to identify your risk factors.
“Don’t just stand in line for a mammogram once a year. You want to have a plan for prevention, so start gathering information,” advised Dr. Smith. “Read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer by John R. Lee, MD, David Zava, PhD and Virginia Hopkins, and go tobcpinstitute.organdbreastcancer.orgto learn the risks.”
Discuss your risks and your prevention plan with a health care provider.
Knowing how to conduct a breast self-exam is critical to your healthcare strategy. In addition, talk with your provider about when to begin breast screening and how often to have screenings, and then determine which type is best for your body–mammograms, ultrasounds, thermography or MRIs.
Seek genetic counseling if you are high risk.
All women need a breast cancer prevention plan, but for women who have a family history of breast cancer, the stakes can be even higher. If you have a family history of breast cancer, get counseling at a specialized center to learn how to best manage your risks.
Realize that hormone imbalance can be a breast cancer risk.
Hormone imbalance is not just inconvenient. Suspect hormone imbalance if you’re having symptoms such as breast tenderness, heavy cycles or severe PMS. This could indicate estrogen dominance, which increases your risk of breast cancer. “I would also advise you not to ‘dabble’ in hormone therapy,” she stated. “Hormones are powerful messengers in the body and should be used wisely. If you need hormone therapy, get advice from someone who’s knowledgeable and has actual clinical experience using hormones. Some hormone therapies elevate risk while others can reduce it.”
Nutrition is a powerful tool to lower risk.
Being overweight and consuming alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer. Also, choose meat and dairy products with no added hormones. Use soy only in moderation from natural food sources and increase your consumption of cruciferous vegetables and flaxseed.
Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.
Evaluate your environment for substances threatening the balance of your body and reduce your exposure to them. Chemicals often increase cellular damage, lead to hormone imbalance and depress the immune system. Women should reduce their exposure to the chemicals applied to their bodies. Choose safer bath and beauty products such as those onsafecosmetics.org. Strive to reduce your exposure to pesticides by avoiding the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables fromewg.org. Avoid storing or heating food in plastic containers because chemicals can leach into foods and mimic estrogens in the body.
Exercise your body and mind.
When you exercise, blood is pumped into tissues, delivering nutrients and taking toxins away. The lymph tissue is pumped by the muscles to expel the toxins it has collected; and energy is channeled through your body.
Limit other exposures.
Reduce your exposure to radiation during medical test such as mammograms, X-rays, CT scans and PET scans.
Spread the Word.
“Let’s be the last generation that willingly accepts toxins into our bodies,” stated Dr. Smith. “Let’s be the last generation that’s ill-informed about our bodies and how they function. If you learn something, pass it on to the other women around you.” HLM
Midlife Wellness Center is located at 1201 N.W. Briarcliff Parkway, Suite 300, Kansas City, Missouri. See the website at midlifewellnesscenter.comor call 816 587-7979.