Summary: Created and hosted by journalist Emily Kumler, Empowered Health stems from a history of frustration in finding reliable information on women’s bodies and how to best care for them. Each week, we will be breaking down the barriers of health misinformation and arming women with the knowledge they need to live healthier, happier lives.
When you need help who do you turn to? Instagram? Facebook? Online advice can come loaded with judgment and inaccuracies, but it is accessible and relatable and that makes it potent. We talk to Dr. Margaret Quinlan and Bethany Johnson, the authors of "You’re Doing it Wrong! Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise", on how mothers face criticism for their parenting choices, from the historical medical expertise of the nineteenth century to the newsfeeds of today.
Even with decades of experience as a cardiology nurse, Kristen O'Meara initially dismissed her own warning signs of a heart attack, relying on the fact she was healthy and active. Hours later, O'Meara would find herself in the emergency room recovering from a heart attack caused by a condition many otherwise healthy women suffer from: SCAD. Many patients, paramedics, and even doctors are unaware of the condition, leaving them to associate heart attack symptoms with less dire ailments, like panic attacks.
Back in '96, Shannon Miller led the Magnificent Seven to the gold at the Summer Olympics, earning the first-ever gymnastics win over Russia for the U.S. In 2011, Miller announced that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Following recovery, Miller went on to advocate for others with ovarian cancer. She discusses cancer's aftermath and how it caused her perspective to shift. Miller also talks on her experience growing up as an athlete in comparison to the pressure of youth sports today.
In 1989, a team of anthropologists studying Hadza hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania noticed how hard one group was working: the grandmothers. “They were well into their sixties and their productivity was just as great as the women who are still in the childbearing years,” anthropologist Kristen Hawkes tells Emily. Historically, women’s primary contribution to society was to give birth– implying post-menopausal women offered no value. We now have scientific evidence to prove that wrong.
From the late reproductive stage to the final menstrual period, the female body goes through a great deal of change. The spikes in estrogen during menopause cause an unpredictability that makes the transition particularly difficult. Unlike the pattern of stocking up on tampons and Advil every 28 days, women are thrown for a loop when their hormones become erratic. Dr. Jan Shifren and Dr. Nancy Woods go in-depth about memory function, feeling unstable, and what women need to be aware of during menopause
Hormone therapy has a complicated history. We’ve heard hormone therapy causes cancer and we’ve heard it is perfectly safe. We unpack the Women’s Health Initiative and why it has been so widely misunderstood and how the misinformation has led to widespread confusion. We hear from Dr. Jan Shifren of Massachusetts General Hospital's Midlife Women's Health Center, Dr. Marcie Richardson of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and the University of Guelph's Glen Pyle.
As Nina Coslov hit her forties, she began questioning what her body was experiencing. Are these symptoms related to my hormones or something else? Her uneasiness led to research about the aging female body, thus learning about the late reproductive stage and perimenopause. Her newfound knowledge was a relief; she wasn’t unhappy or sick, she was just changing. Coslov then launched Women Living Better, an educational website on the early menopause stages, with help from Dr. Marcie Richardson and Nancy Woods
Investigative reporter Nina Teicholz was a vegetarian for over twenty years before taking a closer look at her own diet, ultimately leading to her New York Times bestseller "The Big Fat Surprise." Teicholz's work has disrupted orthodox nutrition beliefs, challenged the dietary guidelines, and debunked the weak science around dietary fat. Nina and Emily discuss how we got red meat so wrong, along with what studies show concerning women on a low-fat diet.
Sports medicine physiatrist Dr. Amy West explains how female bodies, specifically female athlete bodies, differ from male bodies. Should you be working out on your period? What do hormones have to do with injury recovery? Do transgender athletes and those with DSD have an advantage over cisgender athletes? What is RED-S and why is it often seen amongst young female athletes? West also discusses the links between the CrossFit movement and the field of physiatry.
While all mothers are constantly working on raising the next generation, moms who end up re-entering the workforce face difficult challenges. From accepting that being a stay-at-home mom may not be your thing to being discriminated in the workplace for being a mother, your career path gets complicated if and when you decide to have children. We are joined by the creator and host of the Double Shift Podcast, Katherine Goldstein, along with Professor Kathleen McGinn of Harvard Business School.
Endometriosis is a disorder where the endometrial tissue appears in other parts of your body, usually in the pelvic region, but could spread as high as your lungs. On average, it takes a decade to finally get a diagnosis. There is currently no cause or cure, leaving many in the dark about what’s going on with their bodies. We talk with some of the women who have endured endometriosis along with experts Dr. Stacey Missmer and Dr. Ken Sinervo.
This episode is a continuation from episode 16 of our conversation with investigative reporter Gary Taubes, author of "Good Calories, Bad Calories", "Why We Get Fat", and "The Case Against Sugar." Taubes has written extensively on how dogmatic beliefs around a low-fat diet are flawed and how bad science has contributed to that. If you haven't listened to that conversation from last week, we would suggest you do that first.
Gary Taubes is an investigative science journalist who has spent the last 40 years covering controversial science. Back in 2002, his New York Times Magazine piece "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" led Taubes to gain recognition as one of the few reporters taking on the challenge of questioning the conventional dietary wisdom. In the first episode of a two-part series, Taubes discusses how questioning “pathological science” has caused him to bump heads with the scientific community.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women alike, but the symptoms, causes, and outcomes differ among the sexes. Women tend to get blockages in the small vessels, whereas men have plaque build-up in their large arteries. Cardiologists Dr. Janet Wei of the Barbara Streisand Women's Heart Center and Dr. Giulia Sheftel of Newton-Wellesley Hospital discuss how these blockages happen, Yentl Syndrome, and the interplay of estrogen and heart health.
We spend a great deal of time on Empowered Health discussing how sex differences affect culture and science, but accounting for gender identity is key to an all-encompassing understanding of health issues. Author and activist Sarah McBride joins us to discuss the complexity of gender identity. McBride is a transgender advocate who works as the press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.