Volume 4, Number 1: Spring Equinox, 2002

The New Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research - BC Endocrine Research Foundation

The presence of estrogen in a woman’s body has long been seen as a major contributor to the prevention of osteoporosis and heart disease. According to Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a Vancouver-based reproductive endocrinologist and researcher, progesterone, a hormone produced following ovulation, is also a key contributor to women’s good health.

“A woman’s body needs adequate amounts of progesterone to counterbalance menstrual-cycle estrogen surges and to prevent endometrial cancer,” says Dr. Prior. “Research has shown that progesterone also stimulates bone formation therefore helping to prevent osteoporosis. Early synthesis of a few studies suggests that progesterone is also important in the prevention of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.”

Ovulation disturbances, however, are prevalent in many women throughout their reproductive lifespan. When ovulation is delayed or completely absent, the production of progesterone is reduced or eliminated. This imbalance between progesterone and estrogen puts their long-term health at risk.

Ovulation disturbances occur in women for various reasons, some of which are psychosocial stressors and can be prevented. In response to the current cultural emphasis on leanness, many women adopt a “dieting attitude? known as cognitive dietary restraint. The stress of worrying about food and weight causes shortening of the luteal phase (delays ovulation). Weight cycling (significant repeated fluctuations in body weight), physical stress and emotional stress are other causes.

“There are many unanswered questions that relate to the variability of the menstrual cycle and ovulation over time,” Dr. Prior says. “I believe that understanding and treating ovulation disturbances will provide the key to prevention of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer for women.” The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR), founded by Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, will study the physical and psychological causes and effects of ovulation disturbances on women’s overall health. CeMCOR will publish the scientific results and also disseminate the information to women themselves.

CeMCOR is a virtual center supported by a Scientific Advisory Council of International researchers located in Australia, Hong Kong, Norway, the United States and across Canada. Comprised of nutritionists, gynecologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, psychologists and endocrinologists, the team will bring a scientific yet woman centered approach to analyzing this key to good health for women.

“What’s unique about this group is that we’re putting social science and biology together in a novel focus on women’s cycles and ovulation,” says Dr. Prior. “The collaboration across disciplines is what’s going to make the difference. CeMCOR will reframe scientific knowledge of the menstrual cycle and ovulation in a women-centered context.”

Researchers will document variations in the menstrual cycle and ovulation in the context of the lives of premenopausal women of all ages. They will analyze the relationships of the menstrual cycle and ovulation changes with weight change, metabolism changes, eating attitudes, breast maturation, bone physiology, premenstrual experiences and changes in the physiology of exercise, respiration, cardiovascular function and breast density and nodularity.

The postulate that progesterone, as well as estrogen, is important contrasts with most studies that focus on estrogen treatment. Studies commonly equate osteoporosis risk with menopause. However, bone loss begins before menopause, and peak bone mass may reflect a woman’s history of ovulation (and hence progesterone exposure).

A local Community Advisory Council will bring community perspectives and energy to guide the Scientific Advisory Council in setting research and education priorities. Meeting three times per year, the volunteer members will act as a reference group in the development and implementation of research and education projects.

Released by: Pauline Buck APR, Scientific Advisory Council 2002. The Scientific Advisory Council was established to provide support and scientific advice to CeMCOR. It will meet in person and/or by virtual technology twice a calendar year.

Jerilynn C. Prior MD, FRCPC Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism, at the University of British Columbia,Vancouver,BC, graduated with honors from Boston University. She trained in Boston, Syracuse, and Vancouver before becoming qualified in Endocrinology and Metabolism (American Board of Internal Medicine) in 1979. She is known for research relating to progesterone’s roles in reproductive endocrinology and bone health and revolutionizing work on perimenopause.

Susan I. Barr, PhD, RDN, FDC, FACSM is Professor of Nutrition at the University of British Columbia. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, and obtained her PhD in Human Nutrition from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. Her research interests focus on cognitive dietary restraint (the perception of constantly limiting food intake), and she has demonstrated important associations among high levels of dietary restraint, menstrual disturbances, and bone health in young women of normal weight.

Siri Forsmo, MD MPH PhD, currently post doctoral fellow at the Dept. of Community Medicine and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. Her training is in gynaecology and obstetrics, community medicine and public health. Her research is mainly in epidemiology, notably in the fields of female cancer, osteoporosis and fractures, health services and medical technology assessment. She is also involved in several interdisciplinary projects in medical history and bioethics.

Ian S. Fraser, MD, BSc (Hons), FRANZCOG, FRCOG, CREI, Professor in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Sydney gained his undergraduate, postgraduate and specialist training at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. He gained specialist qualifications in obstetrics and gynaecology through the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (UK) and through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). He is a certified subspecialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and a past-President of RANZCOG. He is internationally recognized for his research in the fields of menstrual disorders, contraception, menopause and gynaecological endoscopic surgery.

Lorraine Greaves, PhD is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver She is a sociologist, researcher, writer, educator and speaker on women’s health issues, particularly tobacco use, addictions, health effects of violence and the economic costing of women’s health issues. She has also published on health research policy and integrated health research in Canada. Dr. Greaves facilitates multi-sectoral partnerships including consumers, care providers, policy makers and researchers across BC and Canada to conduct policy research on the social determinants of health for women, and participates in many national and international initiatives in health research.

Suzanne C. Ho, BA, MSc, MPH, PhD, is Professor of Community and Family Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is also Director of Postgraduate Programmes in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Women’s Health Studies. With background in physiology and trained in public health and epidemiology, Suzanne’s research interests are in ageing, women’s health, nutritional epidemiology and osteoporosis.

Susan Kirkland,BSc, MSc (Univ. Waterloo), PhD (Toronto). Dr. Kirkland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, Director of Graduate Programs, and Director of The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Halifax Centre. She is particularly interested in the epidemiology of cardiovascular health as well as women’s hormones. She was part of the development of the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, whose mandate is to support research, influence policy and promote action on the social factors that affect women’s health and well being over the lifespan.

France Legare, M.D., M.Sc., C.C.F.P., F.C.F.P, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Laval University, Chairman of Computerization Committee, Evaluation Research Unit, CHUQ Research Center (Pavillon St-Fran�ois d’Assise) Quebec City Public Health Center. Dr. Legare is a family physician with a Master of Science who is both a practicing physician and a PhD student in Health Care and Epidemiology at Laval University in Quebec City. She is interested in women’s attitudes about hormones and menopausal ovarian hormone therapy. She is also a member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.

Susan M. Love, MD is an Adjunct Professor of Surgery at UCLA and the Medical Director of the Susan Love MD Breast Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of breast cancer. She is one of the founders and a director of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and was appointed by President Clinton to the National Cancer Advisory Board. Her research on an intraductal approach to breast cancer led her to found ProDuct Health Inc, a medical device company which was recently acquired by Cytyc Health Corporation. She is the author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book and Dr. Susan Love’s Hormone Book. Although retired from the practice of surgery, she is still helping women through Luminarism, a multimedia women’s health content company, and www.SusanLoveMD.com.

Phyllis Kernoff Mansfield, PhD, is Professor of Women’s Studies and Health Education at Pennsylvania State University. She directs the Tremin Trust Research Program on Women’s Health, a longitudinal study that has been collecting prospectively reported menstrual and health information from women since 1934. She is a board member and archivist of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. She is co-investigator of a five-year NIH grant to link hormonal, menstrual, and prior-life events to the menopause experience. She is co-director of the Midlife Women’s Health Survey, an ongoing longitudinal study to document the normal menopausal transition. She was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award by the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, and the University-wide Alumni Teaching Award.

Moira A Petit, BA, MS, PhD, Dr. Petit, an Assistant Professor working in the Health Evaluation Sciences Faculty at Pennsylvania State is analyzing prospective data from preteen girls followed over many years for changes in exercise, weight, menstrual cycles and bone density. Her research interests include the relationship of lifestyle (physical activity and nutrition) and endocrine factors to skeletal health across the lifespan. Her PhD work at the University of British Columbia was on exercise and bone in Asian and Caucasian children.

Sheila M. Pride, MD, Dr. Pride is a reproductive endocrinologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Gynecology at Vancouver Hospital and the University of British Columbia. She is particularly interested in the clinical care of and consequences for women with long-standing anovulatory androgen excess (also known as “polycystic ovarian disease”). She has collaborated with Dr. Prior on menstrual cycle research off and on since the early 1980s. She is co-investigator in a proposed randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study of cyclic progesterone, low dose birth control pills or placebo in symptomatic early perimenopausal women.

John D. Wark, MB, BS, PhD, Head, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Mineral Service (including Essendon Osteoporosis Centre and Broadmeadows Osteoporosis Centre). Dr. Wark is Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology at The University of Melbourne in Australia. He has an international reputation in the bone field. He is known for his work on vitamin D metabolism, for studying twins of different ages and genders over many years and for his work with the World Health Organization as a consultant on osteoporosis and menopause. He also works with Merino sheep as an animal model of osteoporosis. Sheep are more suitable than many non-primates because they ovulate year round, like women, rather than sporadically or once a year.

Community Advisory Council 2002 The Community Advisory Council has been established to provide a connection between the scientific and educational objectives of the Centre and the interests and needs of women in the community. The roles of the Community Advisory Council are:

  • to facilitate collaboration and coordination between CeMCOR and the wider community of women;
  • to identify needs and assist in setting of research priorities;
  • to participate in the development of strategic directions;
  • to highlight opportunities for community participation and involvement in research;
  • to consult and co-operate with national community/research organizations.

Marilyn Borugian BA, MSc is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, UBC. After 25 years as a computer programmer, systems analyst, project manager and teacher in the financial services area of information technology, Marilyn is turning her analytical skills to cancer research, with a special interest in modifiable lifestyle risk factors. She recently published her Master’s thesis on gender differences in colorectal cancer risk factors. Her PhD dissertation will examine modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, that have the potential to improve survival in women with breast cancer.

Mavis Dixon graduated from the University of Waterloo with an honours degree in Psychology and a specialization in non-profit administration. She has worked in a management role and as a communications and fund development specialist in non-profit organizations for 11 years. She is currently a development consultant to an environmental organization in Vancouver.

Frances Kirson is a certified personal and executive coach, educator and community researcher. She has over 20 years of experience working with women on lifestyle management, gender and development, and social justice issues. She has acquired a Certificate in Early Childhood Education, a Kinesiology Certificate in Health and Fitness, a B.A. in Sociology and a M.A. in Planning. She has co-developed and coordinates a community based research project on the experiences of younger women with low bone density, and is a faculty member at the British Columbia Institute of Technology where she coaches for their Management Degree. Frances is committed to enabling women’s full participation in all aspects of creating personal excellence and wellness for themselves.

Molly Leung has recently completed her last semester at Simon Fraser University, and will graduate in June with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in English. She starts graduate school in the fall. She has been involved with the Girl Guides of Canada since she was six years old, and currently volunteers as a Pathfinder group leader. This year, she volunteers at Burnaby Hospital. For the past two years she has volunteered with Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS), teaching and skiing with students in the brain injury program. She enjoys outdoor activities, arts and crafts and is interested in organizing special events.

Joyce Resin is the host and Executive Producer of the award winning CBC television show Alive! Ms. Resin is a regular contributor to several Lower Mainland newspapers (the Vancouver Courier and the Vancouver Sun) offering health and lifestyle tips in her well read, Your Guide to Health. Currently she is consulting on strategic communications and community development with Healthy Heart Society of BC. She is also involved in many volunteer activities in the community including the Heart and Stroke Foundation and hosts forums and events for organizations such as the BC Women’s Hospital, the BC Cancer Foundation and the Osteoporosis Society of BC.

Joanne Silver is a consultant who has participated in the start-up of many programs in community development, social and women’s health over the past 25 years. She is also the co-founder and Chair of the Women’s Campaign School and has recently finished four years serving the City of Vancouver on the Public Art Committee. Her background in health, women’s issues, philanthropy and politics is a combination that allows her to become involved with local, provincial, national, and international projects with equal enthusiasm. Joanne has taken on the role as Executive Director of the Centre in its beginning stages.

Dorothy Stowe worked for fourteen years in the Vancouver Mental Health system at the residential treatment centre for adolescents, the Maples. Prior to that she was a psychiatric social worker in Auckland, New Zealand. Dorothy is one of the original volunteers who created and launched Everywoman’s Health Centre and continues to work toward women-centred health in our province.

Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research

Postal Address:
575 West 8th Ave., Suite 380
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V5Z 1C6

Telephone: (604) 875-5927
Fax: (604) 875-5915
E-mail : CeMCOR@interchange.ubc.ca

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B.C. Endocrine Research Foundation

#4116 - 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V5Z 1M9

Email: aleta.allen@vch.ca
Tel: (604) 875-5929

Board of Directors

President: Dr. Marshall Dahl
Vice-President: Dr. David M. Thompson

Board Members: Dr. Keith Dawson, Dr. Jason Kong, Dr. Ehud Ur, Dr. Jerilynn Prior, Dr. Tom Elliott, Dr. Breay Paty, Dr. Sandra Sirrs

Bookkeeper: Nancy Walker

Administrator: Aleta Allen