Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Q & A with Marla Ahlgrimm: Effects of Physical Activity on Cancer Risks in Women

Marla-AhlgrimmGet off the couch, away from the screen, and get moving! This is the message by women’s health expert and world renowned pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm who affirms exercise as a key factor to overall health.

Q: How much physical activity does a woman need to help reduce her risk of cancer?

Marla Ahlgrimm: In dozens of studies across the globe, researchers have found that women who exercise at least three hours per week are typically 20 – 30% less likely to receive a cancer diagnosis than their sedentary counterparts. These studies include breast cancer, which is one of the biggest fears of many women.

Q: How does exercise affect the body?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Burning calories helps the body regulate weight, and maintains a lower blood sugar level and body mass. Exercise also causes the body to act as its own anti-inflammatory and stimulates the body’s defense over foreign cells. Some scientists believe that cancer may be a natural response to over inflammation, so the more a woman can do to keep it at bay, the better.

Q: Isn’t estrogen also affected by exercise?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes! There is evidence that regular movement – specifically activity vigorous enough to cause the body to sweat – creates an environment where estrogen is broken down in a way that may prevent certain types of cancer (there are some specific causes of cancer as well, mesothelioma explained with asbestos exposure, etc).

Q: Does that mean light exercise doesn’t help?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Moderate activity does offer health benefits. However, to really reap the cancer-fighting rewards of motion, research suggests that you will have to exert yourself enthusiastically. This means to the point of increasing your heart rate and feeling out of breath. Once you reach this point, you know your body is working and will have to release all the beneficial chemicals it needs for recovery.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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