Tag Archives | menopause research

Menopause: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!

Comedy © lynette sheppard

Comedy © lynette sheppard

My new favorite Menopause music video is by Kyla Burge. Her husband Brian Burge is the driving force behind the Blow Me Cool fans that Menopause Goddess Blog readers (and yours truly) just love! Enjoy this take-no-prisoners tune as Kyla tells it like it is:

You can find the Blow Me Cool fan in the Menopause Marketplace: click here.

In other news on the Menopause front, two research studies have come to light recently. (Though personally, I wonder if they should have been left in the dark. Or at least, unfunded.)

First, we have a groundbreaking (NOT) study showing that Menopause causes memory lapses. Apparently, they couldn’t take our word for it. A controlled study determined that it is just as women have reported: Menopause causes sucky memory. Read more here: Menopause Memory Study.

Last, and almost certainly least, we have research delving into the question “Why” does Menopause happen. It was thought to be a result of outliving our reproductive usefulness, but now would appear that it is the fault of Men. Yep, we knew we’d be able to pin it on them someday. That day is here.

Turns out that this study found that women go through Menopause because Men start preferring younger women at some point. This research gets my vote for most useless information on the Pause yet. Not sure what they suggest we do about this nor how they determined the cause and effect here. Tell you what. You can read more here: Men Cause Menopause.

I’ll say this much – with studies like these and smart, funny women like Kyla Burge – we won’t have to worry about losing our sense of humor anytime soon. That and girlfriends will get us through. Maybe we’ll have a few more laugh lines, but that’s fine with us.

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Best Health Blog Vote, Rejuvenair Fan Sale, and Meno Movies

Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Wow. Menopause Goddess Blog has been nominated by Healthline for Best Health Blog of 2012. That is why you’ll find a large red button that says Vote For Me on the right column of this site. I know, I know, you are as tired of elections as I am, but it’s for a good cause! Namely, the more exposure we have, the more women have a place to get wisdom from their sister goddesses. Oh yes, there’s a cash prize too, which would be appreciated to defray website costs, but that’s not the biggest reason. So please, vote. And share it with your friends.

Speaking of Healthline, they recently put together a collection of the best online videos relating to Menopause. You’ve got to see these: Best Menopause Videos. Good for a laugh, a ponder, and maybe even a a good cry. These folks “get it”.

To celebrate the New Year, Dr. Klein is offering her Rejuvenair fan for only 29.99. (List price is 49.99, so if you want one, get it now.) No coupon or special code is needed – just visit their website at rejuvenairfan.com.

And a team of MBA students at Washington University in St. Louis are studying the education level of women regarding Menopause (great idea, if you ask me.) They  have created a survey to gather data from real women regarding their experiences and would love if we would participate. (And it could be of so much help to pre and peri Menopause Goddesses.) Ideally, we’d share the survey with pre-menopausal women to see if the level of education is better than when we started the Pause.  Here’s the link:  http://olinbusiness.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_2ttGBQw7Q9Ux54x

And they’ve promised to share the results of the final study with us.

And if you like Menopause Goddess Blog, cast your vote for us. Women sharing wisdom – that’s what we’re all about. That and laughter and girlfriends and chocolate.

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Research Participation, Hair Loss, and HRT Update: A Menopause Grab Bag

red maple leaves, Zion NP © lynette sheppard


Greetings, Goddesses (and those who love them). My apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks. The short story on why? Hula conference, food poisoning, the flu.
I’m bouncing back now; well more like crawling back but things are looking up. I’m recuperating in one of the most beautiful places on our little green planet: Zion National Park, Utah.

In deference to the backlog of important topics I’ve been meaning to post, here are three in one – a veritable grab bag of meno missives.

First, there is a call for participation in a UCLA study on attitudes toward disgusting situations. It seems that there may be changes in what we find disgusting or not when we go through menopause. Professor Daniel Fessler of UCLA and Dr. Katinka Quintelier of Ghent University are co-conductors of this research. I took the survey myself – pretty interesting. Click on the link below or paste it into your browser – all results are completely anonymous. http://menodis2011-2012.questionpro.com

On the hair loss front – a particularly diabolical manifestation of the Change, there is new hope out for menopausal women afflicted. Avacor has been approved for hair regrowth in hormonal thinning. (Active ingredient in the serum is minoxidil aka Rogaine.) They have had significant success, although like everything, it won’t work for all women. So I have offered to be a guinea pig yet again and have begun a three month program. It usually takes two months to show any effect, so don’t expect to hear too much too soon. Hope springeth eternal – I’ve taken my before pictures and hope to see a difference in eight weeks or so. I’ll keep you posted.

I will say this: one of the products in their starter kit is called “Boost”. It is a hair thickener styling product and it is as good or better as any of my previous favorites. I highly recommend this even if you don’t need to regrow hair. It’s a great volumizer and doesn’t weigh my hair down in the process. Yes, you can buy this product separately. If you want to take this journey along with me, they can start you out with a free 3 month trial supply of the full set of products. Check out their website at avacor.com

Last but not least, I wanted to report on my HRT cessation (and my physician’s). We both feel just fine – yes, we do have a hot flash every now and then but they are short lived and not too incendiary. I must report the side effect of a little smugness on both our parts, but thankfully this is not serious.
For those of you who are attempting to titrate down your HRT, go slowly and be gentle with yourself. With the patch, I was cutting it into tinier and tinier pieces until I was wearing just a miniscule pie shaped wedge that likely had almost no hormone in it. Still, the placebo effect is powerful juju and I availed myself of it for quite a while. Now I’m happy and hormone free. Except for any hormones that my own body might produce on its own. I’ll take all of those I can get.Now, I’m going out to sit on the patio and look at red rocks. Take the survey, grow some hair, be gentle with yourself in all ways. Oh, and eat some chocolate. Just sayin’…

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Eat Prunes For Postmenopausal Bone Health

Aspen Summer Trees © lynette sheppard

“Ick! I’m not eating those!” I told my grandmother. “I’ll eat them,” crowed  my little brother, human garbage receptacle and eternal suckup. “They’re just giant raisins.” When we were kids visiting Grandma, she always served us prunes for breakfast. She claimed they were “good for us.”

Turns out Grandma is the one who should have been eating them. Recent research reveals that prunes (or as they are now more politically correctly named “dried plums”) prevent osteoporosis and promote healthy bones.

A group of researchers from Florida State and Oklahoma State University conducted a study using two groups of postmenopausal women. Over a 12-month period, the first group of 55 women, was instructed to consume 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day, while the second  control group of 45 women — was told to consume 100 grams of dried apples. All of the study’s participants also received daily doses of calcium (500 milligrams) and vitamin D (400 international units).
The group that consumed dried plums had significantly higher bone mineral density in the ulna (one of two long bones in the forearm) and spine, when compared with the control group that ate dried apples. This, according to researchers, was due in part to the ability of dried plums to suppress the rate of bone resorption, or the breakdown of bone, which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age.
“Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,” said Bahram H. Arjmandi, Florida State’s Margaret A. Sitton Professor and chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences in the College of Human Sciences. “All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional.”

“Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the 5 to 7 years after menopause, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. And here might be a remedy without side effects save a little more regularity? I’m game.

So I’m off to the grocery store to buy a bunch of prunes…er dried plums. I think I could grow to like them. If not, I can always ship them off to lil bro.

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Cool New Menopause Relief Stuff

Blossoming © lynette sheppard

Menopause waylaid my daily life, bringing heat and chaos. But it has brought more gifts than difficulties overall. Our goddess group, new and deeper relationships, this blog with its expanded community of like-afflicted women, and a new found sense of self are among the positive changes accompanying the Change. It’s not sarcasm to say that the Big M has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. So far.

Sure, given the choice, I’d forego the hot flashes, chin hair, weight gain, and myriad other weirdnesses perpetrated on my unprepared, unsuspecting body, mind, and spirit. Still, if it meant that I wouldn’t have the gifts I’ve been showered with, well…I guess I’d choose to have the full meal deal all over again. I’m just sayin’…….

One of the unexpected pleasures of writing this blog (and contributing to great sites like Vibrant Nation, Jane Nation, Women’s Health Foundation, Wellsphere, and Examiner.com) has been the influx of information about new, great products designed to ease the journey of the menopausal woman. Our voices have been raised and we’ve been answered, it seems.

In this blog post, I’ll spotlight a few of the latest products to catch my interest.  Some of the creators have indeed sent me a sample to try. I’m telling you this because apparently it has been mandated that bloggers/reporters disclose receipt of a sample, in case we are telling you about this just to get a free whatever. Like anyone would want to need these products……… There, you’ve been forewarned. And I promise not to B.S. about any of these. Enough said.

Aloe Cadabra is a natural personal lubricant, made as the name suggests, from 95% organic aloe. It’s a wonderful adjunct to intimacy for the menopausal woman (and I just love the name.) We’ll be sharing more about the importance of lubricants in a  blog post in the near future, where Theresa Venus shares an  personal experience important to all menopause goddesses. For now, visit Aloe Cadabra’s website (www.aloecadabra.com) to find out more about this great product.

Down is not a menopause goddess’s best friend. It can contribute to hot flashing, especially at night. (Watch out for those down pillows and comforters, ladies.) Still, what are we going to use for bedding, where we want as much comfort as possible?

Enter Lana Abrams, a menopause goddess who started a new line of comfortable bedding when she started to “heat up” at age 50. Her mulberry silk comforters and blankets are naturally wicking and cooling while they keep us warm.  Her company is called Mulberry West.

Mulberry silk is a natural fiber that contributes to temperature control, repels dust mites and bedbugs, repels mold and mildew, and lasts longer than down or synthetics. And it meets the luxury requirement, too. I don’t have one of these yet, but I am going to order one. There’s lots more information on her site: visit http://www.mulberrywest.net/. With sleep at a premium these days, we almost can’t afford not to have one.

Most of you know that I am a HUGE fan of anything that has no side effects and is a natural treatment for hot flashes and other manifestations of The Big M. Ladycare is a UK based company that has just begun offering its non-invasive, alternative therapy for menopause in the US.

Basically, it is a magnetic device worn in the pelvic area.  Clinical trials in the UK showed 33-67% of women reporting significant reduction  or complete relief from hot flashes and myriad other Big M symptoms using this device.

Magnetic therapies have long been used for pain relief and other maladies. So it’s no surprise that it might be useful in menopause treatment.

Ladycare sent me one of these to try and I’ve just begun wearing it. Like most natural remedies, it likely will take a few days to a couple weeks to reach full effect, so I will keep you all posted on my results. I will say this, it is really pretty. For whatever that’s worth. Find out more on their website: www.ladycareusa.com.

All these products will be featured on the Menopause Marketplace, just as soon as my webmaster and I can upload the info. Let us know any experiences you have with these or other great “helps” so we may share with our sister goddesses.

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Hot Flashes The Sequel: Now Showing In A Woman Near You

Flame On © lynette sheppard

I’m a hottie. There, I said it. I’m not a Demi Moore, cougariific kind of hottie, though. I’m a middle aged, newly slender, boiling in my own casing kind of hottie.  No frog in the frying pan here, gradually warming, adjusting as she goes, wondering what all the fuss is about.

No, no, no. The Big M flung my little froggie self into a scalding hot, non stick, anodized cauldron from hell – so I was most painfully aware that I was freaking hot.

That said, there may be a smidgeon of good news. A new study suggests that women whose hot flashes began early in the Pause, but not later seemed to have a lower risk for heart disease and death than those who never boiled in their own skins or those who developed flashes later.

My hot flashes were just short of self immolation when I first began this journey. They tapered off enough to allow me to begin decreasing my bioidentical HRT in hopes of ceasing it altogether. My plan was to get rid of my tiny, half patch by April.

Then I had to go and mess with the delicate balance I had achieved by going on the HCG diet and losing that turkey that had taken up residence around my middle zones.

Is it possible that one can be too thin!?
Especially if she is post menopausal?! ? Because my new svelte self has begun having hot flashes. Again. Feel them again for the first time. Sheesh.

These power surges are not nearly as horrific as the early ones, but they are certainly present and accounted for. Dewitt gave me a hug the other morning and noted, “Ooh, clammy girl is back.” So I’m wondering if my April target date might have to be pushed a bit.

I’m pretty sure that the new research findings don’t include a category for early-hot-flashes-diminished-over-time-with-spontaneous-return-post-turkey-loss-no-end-in-sight-just-yet. So I’m not sure if the latest study is good news, bad news, or no news in my case. The Big M is still mostly uncharted territory, but we are definitely becoming expert orienteers, mapping the way for ourselves and our sister goddesses.

So stay tuned. Menopause is not just a soap opera. It’s the real never ending story. For now, I’m going out and looking for my luck dragon.

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Menopause Research Study: Call for Participation

I’ve frequently jumped upon my soapbox and railed at the dearth of research on Menopause. Now here’s a chance for Hawai`i Menopause Goddesses to potentially be a part of the solution.

Dear friend and sister goddess Dee Adams of  Minnie Pauz fame sent me this info on a study being conducted in Honolulu, Hawai`i. (BTW, if you haven’t checked out her hilarious, poignant cartoons on the Pause, you must click here.)

Here’s the request from the research company:
Covance Clinical Research Study Opportunity

Healthy?  Past Menopause
Generations of women have helped test investigational medications by participating in clinical research studies.  You could help too.
To qualify for research study  8232-584 involving an investigational medication you must be:

- A healthy postmenopausal woman
- Able to stay at Covance for 2 nights / 3 days and make 22 outpatient visits

Participants will receive all study-related exams at no cost and compensation $3750 for time and participation.
Think you can help? Great!  Then call 808-441-6327 (808-441-6361 for Japanese speakers), Text ALOHA to 77982 or visit TestWithTheBest.com today.

Please call 808-441-6327 (808-441-6361 for Japanese speakers), immediately for details.

Please consider getting involved, or, tell a friend who might want to participate for the first time (learn more about our referral program at www.testwiththebest.com)
We welcome and appreciate your involvement in clinical research.  To all our participants past, present and future, Thank You!
Sincerely,
Covance Clinical Research Unit

Of course, Menopause Goddesses don’t take much at face value (especially those of us of the Registered Nurse persuasion.) So I called these folks to find out just what they are testing. Because I would be compelled to add my two cents if this study were about antidepressants as a cure for the Pause or some other such “elephant gun to kill flies” strategy.

They are testing an osteoporosis medication, it turns out. Fair enough. They could not give me the other studies that have been done, potential side effects, or any other info “over the phone.” However, they did say that if I came in for screening, they could tell me any and all of this information. Sadly, though I am only 30 miles away, it might as well be 3000, since those miles are open ocean.

So if you should decide to participate, be sure to ask about previous studies and results, potential side effects and benefits, and so on. Read that investigational consent form carefully and thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

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Menopause Research Study On Hormone Therapy Cessation: Participate Now

Calling all Menopause Goddesses. We need your help in a cutting edge new study. As you all know, research on the menopause transition has been sadly lacking.  I have been bitching about that for what seems like forever.

Thanks to Menopause Goddess, Dee Adams, the creator of Minnie Pauz Menopause cartoons, I learned of an exciting new study in progress.

Mary Fischer, a nursing doctoral student at University of Massachusetts is exploring women’s experiences with discontinuing hormone therapy. How timely is that?

So many goddesses, including yours truly, are working to discontinue our hormone therapy – and frankly, like so much of the Big M, this is uncharted territory. Fear and loathing on the Menopause Trail, you might say.

Thankfully, this new study is qualitative in nature. Rather than simply yes or no answers, our experience in our own words is requested in addition to necessary quantitative data. Which as we Menopause Goddesses know is one of the major ways we share information: through stories of personal experience.

If you are a Menopause Goddess in the process of decreasing or discontinuing your HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or have already ceased your HRT, I urge you to contact Mary to participate in the study. I’ve already gratefully filed out the online study after signing the informed consent and receiving my user name and password.

This is how we will help ourselves and the women who come after us (like our daughters) to have an easier Menopause journey. Women sharing wisdom: that’s what it’s all about.

Contact Mary Fischer at 508-877-3316 or email her at mary.fischer@umassmed.edu to get started.

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Adrift On The Sea of Menopause

I’d like to be a jellyfish
‘Cause jelly fish don’t pay rent…

They’re just simple protoplasm
Clear as cellophane.
They ride the winds of fortune,
Life without a brain.”

from the song Mental Floss by Jimmy Buffett

Now that my menopause brain fog has lifted, I notice an interesting new mental phenomenon manifesting itself. It’s a little like what longtime meditators call monkey mind (and I call Menopausal HDD). Still, it’s different. Monkeys jump from tree to tree exuberantly. Monkey mind jumps from thought to thought, idea to idea quickly. There’s almost a manic energy to them.

This new syndrome is more like jellyfish mind. While myriad thoughts intrude themselves, one atop another, I find myself floating among them. I’m drifting in a sea filled with plans, ideas, to-do’s, memories, wishes. Like a jellyfish, I float from thought to thought as they wave and brush against me.

I don’t mind the floating either. Which is weird. Because I like to be focused. Heck, I need to be focused. But too often, I just float from one thought to the next, one thing to the next, serenely. I feel like a caricature of a Zen master (mistress?).

And since it is time for another blog entry and I am surrounded by flotsam and jetsam in my own little ocean, I’m going to write about the various kelp-thoughts that brush against me. The warning here is that these topics may not go together at all. Yet they have at least The Big M in common. Okay, there’s the disclaimer – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Estrogen Addiction Say What?
Yep, Apparently our hot flashes are due to an estrogen addiction. UBC Professor of Endocrinology Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior presented her findings on estrogen addiction and its treatment with progesterone at Women’s Health Congress 2010 in Washington DC. Not a joke. Really.

According to Dr. Prior, when a woman has a hot flash:

“she’s experiencing a massive release of brain chemicals … Integrating what we know about hot flushes has led to the hypothesis that the brain exposed to prolonged high estrogen levels reacts like the brain of an addict without a fix when estrogen levels drop. The best animal model of hot flushes is the heroin-addicted mouse.”

Apparently, the treatment for this estrogen addiction is progesterone, since “estrogen and progesterone work together in every tissue of a woman’s body.”

Okay. I’ll bite. Massive release of brain chemicals sounds right on. Furthermore, I’m a big believer in natural progesterone cream. But as I’m floating in my little sea, these thoughts brush against me. Do we have to name everything so that it sounds like a disease or disorder? When Mom Nature cold turkeys us at Menopause, does she know what she has done? And is progesterone now our methadone?

Dr. Prior and her team suggest that women who have taken estrogen will have tons more hot flashes when they stop the hormones. Does that mean instead of 20-30 per day, I’ll have 40-50? I gotta tell you, it doesn’t make me excited about stopping my bioidentical patch anytime soon. And I am definitely planning to decrease and ultimately discontinue it, having passed that magical three year mark. Will I need truckloads of progesterone to combat the dreaded withdrawal from my estrogen addiction? Do I need a 12 step program?

There were a bunch of other kelp thoughts I was going to share, but I’ve drifted too far past them and run out of room. They’ll likely show up in the next post.

As Jimmy Buffett continues in his song,

“In one ear and out the other.
Don’t you get criss crossed.
I recommend you try a little
Mental floss.”

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Latest Medical Research on Menopause: A Nurse Goddess Perspective

caduceus puzzleshrp

As a nurse, I belong to a continuing education / latest research site called Medscape. It’s nothing short of wonderful. When I think of the sheer poundage of my professional magazines that I subscribed to in the past, it boggles the mind. (And stimulates my guilt reflex when pondering how many trees gave their lives so that I might give better nursing care.)

Now with a couple of keystrokes, I can stuff my few remaining brain cells with the latest nursing and medical knowledge. Amazing. I love love love the internet. But I digress – which happens to me a lot since The Big M.

I’d like to share a few of the latest research findings regarding menopausal women.

Hot Flashes Sufferers Live Longer?
I received a tweet the other day that stated “research shows women that have a large number of hot flashes live longer.” I went to the actual study and found that in truth, it was women that reported night sweats in addition to their hot flashes. They had a 30% lower mortality rate from heart disease than women who didn’t suffer from nocturnal overheating, irrespective of risk factors or HRT (hormone replacement therapy) usage.

Wow. I believe that I will likely live to 210 years of age if this is true. Thank God for wicking sleepwear. (Stay tuned for the debut of our Menopause Marketplace to find great wicking sleepwear vendors.)

Does Depression Affect Menopausal Symptoms?
This study found that women suffering depression reported more menopause symptoms. Conversely, the authors were surprised to find that menopause also seemed to lead to more depression. The first thing I have to say about these results is “Well , DUH!”

The second is that this sounds a little like “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Which we could debate forever, but why would we want to?

Most important were the conclusions of the study – that identification and treatment of depression might help with symptoms of menopause as well.

True enough, but at what cost? We are already seeing a number of articles promoting antidepressants to treat menopause, which really is like trying to shoot a fly with an elephant gun. While I am the first to say that menopause symptoms suck, I also believe in the remedy with the least side effects that helps.

I strongly believe in antidepressant drugs when necessary. When depression causes significant disruption of daily life activities or relationships or suicidal thoughts, then pharmaceutical treatment along with professional therapy can be life saving.

But we need to assess a matter of degree with depression. Some mild depression, e.g. feeling sad and blue, weepy, not motivated during menopause affected all of the Goddesses to some degree. When we shared it with one another, it lessened greatly. It was wonderful to find out that it was normal and it was likely temporary.

Two of our goddesses have suffered from depression pre-menopause and have taken antidepressant therapy successfully. The rest of us just felt crappy for awhile.

Risk for Major Depression Increases During and After Menopause

Basically this study found that the risk of major depression doubles during perimenopause and menopause when compared with premenopause. That sounds about right. To put that in perspective, if two of your twenty friends suffered a major depressive episode before any of you went into menopause, then it might be likely that 4 of your friends would suffer a major depressive episode. Leaving 16 feeling blue and “normally” depressed.

I couldn’t find out how the researchers defined major depressive episode. One of the researchers did make this statement, which was billed in the Medscape article as the take-home message for clinicians. “When women come in and are thinking that they have some extra difficulties with life and feel down and blue…take it seriously. It is not just a passing thing.”

Okay, that worries me. Because it describes nearly every menopausal woman I’ve known at some point in her journey. I personally felt down and blue, and was dragging my weary arse through the days during the worst of the Big M. I was also hot, cranky, and sleep deprived which likely made it worse. But it WAS just a passing thing. It was normal. The best treatment I experienced (besides sleep and cooling measures) was support and commiseration from my Menopause Goddess sisters.

While I’m delighted that we are doing some research on The Big M, I have to wonder why we aren’t looking into bioidentical hormones, herbal therapies, and the effects of support groups. Could it be because there is no funding for these types of research?

So ladies, remember the one Latin legal phrase I learned in nursing school “caveat emptor”. Let the buyer beware. You are the buyer of your own health care. Pick and choose. Ask questions – lots of them. Ask about side effects and risk-benefit analysis. And not to be a conspiracy theorist, but ask yourself who might have funded a given research study? Who stood to gain?

Lastly, make sure that you are followed by a physician or nurse practitioner, not led. Most health care professionals I know actually appreciate a patient who is actively involved in her own care. And if they don’t? I’d shop around for a new health care professional/partner.

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