Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cosmeceuticals Work for Mature Skin

There's evidence that today's advanced skin care products can be effective in producing anti-aging results on mature skin.

Called cosmeceuticals, these products offer ingredients that work like prescription drugs. Topical application of niacin, for instance, can smooth out skin surface irregularity and other preparations can diminish pores and even out skin tones. That all these ingredients are combined with moisturizers can magnify benefits and make them even more effective in improving the appearance of aging skin.

A study on cosmeceuticals has been published in the December 2007 Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.


Friday, December 28, 2007

LASIK Outcomes Good 10 Years After Surgery

There's good new for those who have had LASIK eye surgery or are considering it to treat a highly myopic condition. A study done by researchers from Miguel Hernandez University, Medical School, Alicante, Spain; and Ankara University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey, reports that patients had good outcomes up to ten years after corrective LASIK surgery.

196 high myopic eyes of 118 patients, preoperatively needing at least 10 diopter (10 D) corrections to achieve 20/20 vision, were evaluated ten years following surgery. Uncorrected vision was 77% of best-corrected vision (BSCVA) before surgery. BSCVA improved 1 line. Only 5% of eyes lost more than 2 lines of BSCVA and 40% avoided the use of glasses. 119 (61 %) of eyes were within ± 2.00 Diopters at 10 years. Only 2 eyes (1%) developed corneal ectasia. The retreatment rate was 27%.

The report is published in the January, 2008 issue of the Journal of Opthamology.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An Apple a Day

There's wisdom in the old saying "an apple a day, keeps the doctor away". According to the Iowa Women's Health Study, consuming apples is one of the healthiest things a postmenopausal woman can do for herself.

The Iowa Women's Health Study has been studying the health habits of 34,000 women for more than 20 years. The apple was named as one of three foods (the other two were pears and red wine) that are most effective against the risk of heart disease amongst menopausal women.

Apples are full of antioxidants flavonoids and also contain soluble fiber that helps regulate cholesterol. Apples have also been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer and type 2 diabetes. And everyone can include apples into their daily diet at meals and snacks.

An apple a day - to your health!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Raw Broccoli Fights Cancer

I love raw broccoli in salad or for dipping but not everyone is a broccoli fan. For those who are, the good news is that eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables(cauliflower, cabbage)greatly reduces your risk of developing bladder cancer by 40%. But you have to eat them raw. Cooking the vegetables reduces the content of isothiocyanates (ITCs) by 60-90% and there was no reduction of cancer risk seen with eating cooked vegetables.

If you don't like raw cabbage or broccoli very much, it is still good news because you need consume them only three times a month to gain the health benefit.

The studies showing the correlation between cruciferous veggies and the reduction in cancer risk were carried out by scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, USA. They presented their findings at the American Association of Cancer Research Conference, Philadelphia.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two Drinks Per Day for Longevity

Older women who take a drink or two may live longer than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. were at significantly lower risk of dying.

Researchers surveyed 12,432 older women on their drinking habits. Women who consume an average of two drinks per day were at significantly lower risk of dying than women who abstained completely or drank rarely.

Researchers state that the consumption of alcohol may have many benefits, including psychological and social wellbeing, as well as increased appetite and nutrition.

The study used data he study, in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute, used data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

16th Annual Conference on Women's Health

The 16th annual conference on women's health will be held March 28-30, 2008 in Williamsburg, Virgina. Physicians, nurses and allied healthcare providers will attend to learn about cutting-edge therapeutic protocols, new diagnostic procedures and research advances.

Women’s Health 2008: The 16th Annual Congress inaugurates the merging of the two most important women’s health clinical conferences of the year--the VCU Institute for Women’s Health Clinical Insights & Best Practices held annually in Williamsburg, VA and the Annual Congress on Women’s Health held in Hilton Head, SC. This must-attend meeting will bring together the best of both programs to provide outstanding faculty of the highest caliber, addressing the most clinically important topics in women’s health.

For further information about the Congress and the Program, visit our website at, call (914) 740-2100 or 800-5-BIOCON, or e-mail

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Caffeine Cream Slims Hips and Thighs

Don't think cellulite creams work? Not crazy about the idea of liposuction? How about smearing a caffeine cream on twice daily?
Strangely, Brazilian researchers studying 99 women found that the application of a cream consisting mostly of a 7 percent caffeine solution actually produced slimming results on thighs and hips after 30 days.

80 percent of the women had lost inches off their upper and lower thighs, while 68 percent found that their hip measurements had been reduced.

Although imaging showed little change in cellulite, researchers think that 30 days may not have been long enough to act on cellulite. What is certain is that a majority of women using the cream for 30 days had reductions in thigh and hip measurements.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Avandia Warnings for Women

You may already know that the diabetes drug, Avandia, has been shown to cause or worsen heart failure. Recently, studies have also implicated Avandia in an increased risk of fractures for women taking the drug.

If you take Avandia, you should also read this story at Medical News Today regarding bone loss and Avandia. According to the article, Avandia causes the body to reabsorb bone, making bones weaker.

Women taking Avandia should also speak to their health care practitioners regarding their condition and risks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Smoking Obscures Test Results for Down's Syndrome

If a woman smokes in early pregnancy, her risk of having a higher blood levels of chemicals associated with Down's syndrome and the level of Fetal NT (nuchal transparency) is increased, but it isn't necessarily because her baby has Down's syndrome.

Because smoking increases the chemical biomarkers and fetal NT, this screening may be ineffective for mothers who smoke, leading to overestimation of the risk of Down's syndrome and unnecessary amniocentesis.

Fetal NT is done using an ultrasound scan to check on the levels of fluid behind the fetus' neck. A higher level of fluid indicates a risk of Down syndrome. The other tests are done from taking blood samples.

Researchers concluded that the tests may need to be adjusted for these higher levels in smoking women to allow for greater accuracy in determining the risk of Down's syndrome in the developing fetus.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Saturday, November 24, 2007

FDA Investigating Chantix Suicide Reports

The FDA is investigating reports of suicidal ideation (thoughts) experienced by people taking the drug Chantix which is prescribed to adults to help them stop smoking.

The FDA has also asked the manufacturer, Pfizer,for any information on additional cases that may be similar in patients who have taken the drug since the report citing erratic behavior in an individual who had used Chantix.

FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is working to complete an analysis of the available information and data. When this analysis is completed, FDA will communicate the conclusions and recommendations to the public.

In the meantime, FDA recommends that health care providers monitor patients taking Chantix for behavior and mood changes. Patients taking Chantix should contact their doctors if they experience behavior or mood changes.

FDA also advises that, due to reports of drowsiness, patients should use caution when driving or operating machinery until they know how using Chantix may affect them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hormones and Mood Disorders

Women need to be aware that key life cycle events bring on hormonal changes that can affect mood. Although it is normal to have mood changes during times of hormonal fluctuations, these can also trigger mild to severe mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, particularly during pregnancy, postpartum and perimenopause. Dramatic changes in hormone levels can lead to postpartum depression and increase cardiovascular mortality for women in perimenopause.

According to a report at the Society for Women's Health Research, areas of research that need further exploration include:

* Pregnancy: Research is needed to better distinguish symptoms of depression from normal responses to the stressful experiences of pregnancy.

* Postpartum: Registries of collected reproductive safety information on antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant medications must be created.

* Perimenopause: Research is needed to uncover the susceptibility markers that predict which women are at risk for developing depression during perimenopause.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pedometers Encourage Increased Activity

Remember when you vowed to increase your physical activity, joined a gym, or planned to go for a walk or a jog daily? Like most of us, you probably didn't follow through for long. Giving up on an exercise program can be costly, not just in terms of our health either - think of all the money wasted on that gym membership.

But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that using a small and inexpensive device, called a pedometer, increased physical activity in those wearing it. The pedometer measures the number of steps a person takes. While wearing a pedometer, the average person in the study took 2,183 extra steps per day - the equivalent of an extra mile of walking.

The study also found that pedometer wearers lost weight and had improvements in their blood pressure readings.

"The results suggest that the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure. Whether these changes are durable over the long term is undetermined."


Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunlight and Vitamin D3 Prevent Endometrial Cancer

Researchers have found a clear association between low exposure to sunlight and the incidence of endometrial cancer. Reviewing data on endometrial cancer, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California at San Diego, found that endometrial cancer rates were highest in the highest latitudes in both hemispheres.

Exposure to sunlight, specifically UVB rays, cause the body to make Vitamin D3 which has previously been linked to lower risks of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancer. The study indicates that Vitamin D3 levels are also important in preventing endometrial cancer.

"This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced risk of endometrial cancer," said Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine, and member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. "Previous epidemiological studies have focused on estrogen levels either natural or through hormone replacement therapy which play the major role in development of the disease, and on fat intake, which plays a smaller role. Since most women cannot control their natural levels of estrogen, and very low levels of fat intake are not acceptable to most American women, this article provides evidence that vitamin D adequacy should be considered as part of a comprehensive program for prevention of this cancer."

The study is published in the November 16, 2007 issue of the journal, Preventative Medicine


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Colon Cancer Genes Blocked by Grape Powder

Something as simple as adding grapes to your diet could help protect you from colorectal cancer, the third most common form of cancer. Colorectal cancer kills half a million people worldwide each year.

A study led by Dr. Randall Holcombe at UC Irvine found that low doses of freeze-dried grape powder inhibited genes linked to the sporadic development of colorectal cancer.

Working with colon cancer patients, the researchers gave one group 20 milligrams daily of resveratrol(a nutritional supplement derived from grape extract) as a pill; another drank 120 grams daily of grape powder mixed in water; and a third drank 80 grams daily of grape powder.

The group taking 80 grams of grape powder showed a reduction in cellular signaling pathway known as the Wnt pathway. The Wnt pathway has been linked to more than 85 percent of sporadic colon cancers. The treatment had no effect on existing tumors. The researchers did not know why the lower dose of grape powder was more effective than the higher dose and there was no effect with the resveratrol alone.

“This is truly exciting, because it suggests that substances in grapes can block a key intracellular signaling pathway involved in the development of colon cancer before a tumor develops,” said Holcombe...

Eighty grams of grape powder equal a half glass of wine or 1 pound of grapes, which is equivalent to three dietary servings of grapes, according to the USDA. Holcombe and his colleagues are currently designing a clinical cancer prevention study to see how a daily diet of 1 pound of grapes affects Wnt signaling.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Being Overweight Increases Some Cancer Risks for Women

According to a report in the British Medical Journal, about half of all womb and esophageal cancers in women are related to being overweight or obese.

Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers in women but, age is also a factor. The risk for breast cancer increases in overweight women after menopause but bowel cancer is more likely to occur before in the years before menopause in women who are overweight.

For more information, read the Cancer Risks for Overweight Women.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Give the Gift of Health - With a HealthCare Gift Card

Highmark, a health insurer based in Pennsylvania, has come up with a novel idea for gift-giving this holiday season. You can give the gift of health with a pre-paid gift card that can be spent on health related services.

Highmark has partnered with Visa to offer the Healthcare Gift Card which can be purchased in amounts from $25 to $5000. The card itself will cost an additional $4.95.

The card can be used at physician or dentist offices, pharmacies and even health gyms. For those who have little or no health insurance coverage or whose copays can be burdensome on a small budget - such as seniors or college students - this gift can be extremely useful.

The cards are only available in Pennsylvania currently but Highmark has plans to widen the market and make them available in more areas.

You can get the card by going to or you can call 1-877-850-3774.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Laparascopic Hysterectomy Not Superior to Total Hysterectomy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released a new Committee Opinion stating that laparascopic vaginal and supracervical hysterectomy is not superior to total abdominal hysterectomy, does not have clear benefits over total hysterectomy and should not be recommended as a superior technique.

Supracervical hysterectomy leaves the cervix intact. Recently it has been suggested as a way to reduce post-surgical recovery time and reduce urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunctions following hysterectomy. However, the ACOG states that a review of the evidence does not indicate significantly better postsurgical outcomes for supracervical hysterectomy when compared with hysterectomies that remove both the uterus and the cervix. Women who choose the supracervical procedure are also at an increased risk for future problems with the retained cervix and may require additional surgery.

Research does not show any drastic differences in urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, or bladder emptying between the two procedures, although one Danish study found that women with supracervical hysterectomy had higher rates of urinary incontinence than women who had total hysterectomy.

"There has been renewed interest in supracervical hysterectomy as a way to reduce operative complications and reduce the effects of hysterectomy on urinary and sexual function. Unfortunately, these possible benefits are not supported by recent evidence," says Denise J. Jamieson, MD, chair of ACOG.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pelvic Health and Women

Women have very special health concerns and it's not always easy to talk to your health care practitioner about "private" issues. To make things worse, a lot of what goes on in the lower regions of our bodies seems mysterious and many women have had their complaints dismissed by doctors and others as either being normal or possibly even "all in your head".

That's why it's important for women to know about their pelvic health and conditions that might affect it. WebMD has an extensive article about what conditions might plague women at different stages of life. The article is informative and sometimes surprising. For instance, did you know that blondes have a higher risk of pelvic prolapse? Did you know that 70% of all women have fibroids by age 50 and that fibroids are more common in African-American women than any other group? Do you know how to distinguish a yeast infection from bacterial vaginosis?

Women at every stage of life - 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond - face special concerns and reproductive health issues. The WebMD article explains the most common pelvic health problems for women in each decade of adult life. Every woman needs to be informed on the health issues that concern her as a woman, at any age.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hysterectomy Increases Incontinence Risk

Removal of the uterus increases a woman's risk of urinary incontinence, according to a Swedish study. The study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet shows that women who have had a hysterectomy are more than twice as likely to undergo surgery for urinary incontinence as women who have not had removal of the uterus.

The highest likelihood of incontinence surgery is within the first five years following the removal of the uterus, but the higher risk for incontinence remains throughout a woman's life. The risk is increased for women who have had a hysterectomy before menopause and for women who have had multiple vaginal deliveries.

Hysterectomy is sometimes the best treatment option - in the case of cancer, for instance - but doctors should educate women on these findings if the surgery is considered for more benign conditions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Laura Bush Campaigns for Breast Cancer Awareness

First Lady Laura Bush was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this week to help launch a breast cancer screening facility. Mrs. Bush was there as apart of a US-Saudi initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer in a country where there have long been taboos about even mentioning the disease.

About 70% of breast cancers in Saudi women go unreported until they are in a very late stage. In the past, social customs and taboos have made it socially improper to call the disease by name.

"Breast cancer does not respect national boundaries, which is why people from every country must share their knowledge, resources and experience to protect women from this disease," Bush said in a speech at the King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh.

"The cure for breast cancer can come from a researcher in Washington or a young doctor in Riyadh," she added.

Mrs. Bush knows how important it is to make women aware of the risks and symptoms of breast cancer. Both her mother and grandmother suffered from the disease.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dieting? Don't Cut Out Chocolate

If you're dieting, whatever you do, don't try to give up chocolate. Psychologists now say that women who try not to think about chocolate and abstain actually end up eating more chocolate as a result.

Psychologist James Erskine, of the University of Hertfordshire, who led the independent research, said: "The act of avoidance seems to completely backfire.

"We found that if you try not to think about eating chocolate, it tends to lead you to eat more. In other words, thinking about chocolate is not dangerous – but trying not to think about it is."

Diet experts say that trying to totally eliminate "sinful" foods can backfire. The best diet is one that includes balanced nutrition and sensible eating.

Besides, with all the health benefits of chocolate that researchers have discovered lately, why would you want to give it up?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Aspirin Not Effective Against Heart Attack in Women

Doctors regularly prescribe aspirin for patients who are at risk for heart attack, but a new report says that aspirin may only be effective for men.

A report from The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, states that the results of 23 previously published clinical trials involving more than 113,000 patients, indicates that aspirin only lowers the risk of non-fatal heart attack in men, and there is no significant risk reduction for women.

"Trials that recruited predominantly men demonstrated the largest risk reduction in non-fatal heart attacks," says Dr Don Sin, one of the study's authors. "The trials that contained predominately women failed to demonstrate a significant risk reduction in these non-fatal events. We found that a lot of the variability in these trials seems to be due to the gender ratios, supporting the theory that women may be less responsive to aspirin than men for heart protection."

"From our findings we would caution clinicians on the prescribing aspirin to women, especially for primary prevention of heart attacks," says Dr Sin. "Whether or not other pharmaceutical products would be more effective for women is unclear; more sex-specific studies should now be conducted."


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunlight Exposure Decreases Risk of Advanced Breast Cancer

Vitamin D has been suggested as cancer preventative in past studies but now there is a study that links sunlight exposure and therefore, Vitamin D production, directly to a decreased risk of breast cancer.

A study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology states that researchers found that women with high sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer - cancer that has spread beyond the breast. The findings were only observed in women with naturally light skin color and only applied to advanced disease, suggesting that Vitamin D may be important in slowing the growth of breast cancer cells. The effect was not seen in women with darker skin color, possibly because dark-skinned individuals produce less Vitamin D than light-skinned people with the same amount of sun exposure.

The study correlates with previous studies showing that frequent sun exposure lowered the risk of breast cancer. However, researchers do not advise sun-bathing as a prevention for breast cancer due to the increased risk of skin cancer that may result. Instead they suggest that supplementing Vitamin D in the diet through multivitamins, fatty fish and fortified foods like milk may be the safest way to achieve adequate levels of Vitamin D.

Exposure to sunlight may decrease risk of advanced breast cancer by half

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NIH Announces Vulvodynia Awareness Campaign

The National Institutes of Health is announcing the launch of the Vulvodynia Awareness campaign. Vulvodynia is a chronic and unexplained pain and discomfort of the vulva which may affect some 14 million women at some time in their lives. Because many health care practitioners are unaware of the condition, it is not always diagnosed promptly.

NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, the National Women's Health Resource Center, NIH components, and thirty federal and non-federal partners are launching the Vulvodynia awareness campaign to bring attention to this condition that can affect the lives and personal relationships of women of all races, ethnic groups and ages.

The campaign will be officially launched on Wednesday, October 27, 2007 at the National Press Club at 10 AM. The National Press Club is located at 529 14th Street, NW in Washington, DC. The event is open to the public.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What Women Know (and don't know) About Breast Cancer

A survey taken by Women's Day and National Women's Health Resource Center reveals what women already know - and don't know - about breast cancer facts.

When it comes to risk factors, a majority of women were right on target, knowing that having a family member who has had breast cancer increases your risk of the disease and 9 out of 10 women were aware that even without a family history of breast cancer they could still be at risk.

However, 47% of women didn't know that getting older raises your risk for developing the disease, and only 32% of women surveyed thought that being overweight puts them at risk, but research shows that it does.

The rates for first mammograms at age 40 are high, 91%. But fewer women, only 75% get them annually as recommended. Women not getting regular mammograms gave the following reasons:
*15% think it costs too much
*12% think it's too painful
*10% are worried that the doctor will find something.

Remember, you should get your first mammogram at age 40. A mammogram is the best way to diagnose the disease at an early and treatable stage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Genetics of Obesity

I don't know what turned the tide in research but it seems lately there have been quite a few startling discoveries about obesity and the genetic aspect thereof. Last month there was a report on research at UT Southwestern Medical Center on the discovery of a gene called adipose, that appears to make some people naturally heavier than others.

Now, researchers at the University at Buffalo have found more possible genetic reasons for overeating and obesity. According to their report, people who have genetically lower dopamine levels tend to eat more, and find food more reinforcing (rewarding). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps make behaviors and substances more rewarding. Having fewer dopamine receptors means that you would have to eat more of a favorite food in order to experience the "feel good" reward from it.

The researchers caution that not all people with this genotype will be obese nor does having the genotype cause obesity in and of itself.

"Behavior and biology interact and influence each other," says lead author, Leonard Epstein, PhD. "The genotype does not cause obesity; it is one of many factors that may contribute to it. I think the factors that make up eating behavior are in part genetic and in part learning history."

The study article, "Food Reinforcement, the Dopamine D2 Receptor Genotype, and Energy Intake in Obese and Non-obese Humans" is published in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hypertension Increases Diabetes Risk

Women who have high blood pressure are up to a three times greater risk for developing diabetes type 2 than those with optimal blood pressure. These are the findings of a study published in the European Heart Journal.

The study followed the health of 38,000 women over a period of ten years. The women fell into one of four groups according to their blood pressure levels at the start of the study.

Optimal BP: below 120 systolic, 75 diastolic
Normal BP: 120-129 systolic, 75-84 diastolic
High Normal BP: 130-139 systolic, 85-89 diastolic
High BP: 140 and over systolic, over 90 diastolic

At the end of the ten year follow-up, and adjusting for lifestyle factors such as exercise, BMI, ethnicity, smoking and alcohol intake, the researchers found that women with hypertension had a three fold higher risk of developing diabetes. Obesity was found to be a separate risk for diabetes, and women in all weight categories were equally at risk for diabetes if they had blood pressure in the highest category. Women whose blood pressure rose during the study, but stayed in the high normal range had an increased risk of 26% compared to 64% for those who had progressed to hypertension.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Low Fat Diet Reduces Ovarian Cancer Risk

A new study published October 9 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that a low fat diet can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in post-menopausal women.

A total of 48,835 post menopausal women were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a comparison group.

The intervention group followed a diet that reduced total fat intake to 20% of overall diet and increased the consumption of vegetables, fruits and grains. The comparison group ate their normal diet. The women were followed for 8 years.

During the first 4 years of the study, the ovarian cancer risk was about the same in both groups, but over time there was a marked reduction in risk for the intervention group which increased with time. The longer the low fat, high fruit and vegetable diet was maintained, the lower the risk of ovarian cancer. And for women who ate a high-fat diet prior to the study, the risk reduction was even greater.

The researchers conclude that a low-fat diet may reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Healthy" Restaurants Make Us Fat

Can eating in a "healthy" restaurant actually make you choose to eat more? According to studies by Brian Wansink of Cornell University, people eating at restaurants that advertise themselves as being healthier, consumed more calories than those eating at restaurants that make no such claim.

For instance, customers eating at Subway which advertises lower-fat and calorie items, chose additional side items that added both fat and calories to the meal - 131% more calories. Customers did this more often than diners at other restaurants like McDonalds, and the end result is that diners eating at Subway underestimated the caloric content of their meals.

"In estimating a 1,000 calorie meal, I've found that people on average underestimate by 159 calories if the meal was bought at Subway than at McDonald's," says Wansink. Since it takes an energy imbalance of 3,500 calories to put on one pound, that extra 159 calories could lead to almost a 5-pound weight gain over a year for people eating at Subway twice a week compared with choosing a comparable meal at McDonald's with the same frequency, he says.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Genetic Cause Found for PMDD

Researchers have found a genetic variant that appears to be linked to PHDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a condition that affects between 5-8% of women. Women with PMDD suffer symptoms similar to PMS but more intense so that they interfere with quality of life. Symptoms include emotional and physical problems, such as irritability, marked depressed mood, anger, headaches, weight gain and more.

A new study published in the October 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry reveals the findings of genetic testing and analysis on women diagnosed with PMDD and healthy control subjects. They found genetic variants in the estrogen receptor alpha gene. The association with PMDD ws only seen in women with a variant in another gene, catechol-o-methyltransferase. Researchers report that women with PMDD have an abnormal response to normal hormone levels, and are differentially sensitive to their own hormone changes.

John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, comments, "We have been waiting for molecular genetics to provide some insights into the neurobiology of PMDD and this report from Huo et al. provides a welcome starting point for this research area." He adds, "In the case of PMDD, we are interested in the internal, hormonal environment as well as external environmental factors, such as stress. This report suggests that genetic factors may influence both dimensions of PMDD vulnerability."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Top Ten Diets for Heart Health

In recent years, diet books have become bestsellers and there is no argument from the medical community that obesity is a major complication in many medical conditions, including the nation's number one killer, cardiovascular disease. A recent study at at the University of Massachusetts Medical School reviewed diet plans in view of how they affect heart health.

Researchers said that people can lose weight in the short term on any one of a number of diet plans, but their interest was in how well these plans do in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The plans were rated on dietary quality, such as the ratio of white to red meat, ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat, and quantities of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereal fiber and trans fats, all of which are known to affect cardiovascular health.

The highest rating on the scale is 70 points. Here is the list of the top ten plans for heart health in order:

1. Ornish (64.6)
2. Weight Watchers High Carbohydrate (57.4)
3. New Glucose Revolution (57.2)
4. South Beach/Phase 2 (50.7)
5. Zone (49.8)
6. 2005 USDA Food Guide Pyramid (48.7)
7. Weight Watchers High Protein (47.3)
8. Atkins/100 g Carb (46)
9. South Beach/Phase 3 (45.6)
10. Atkins/45g Carb (42.3)

The study, “A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans,” was published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Calcium Fights Cancer Spreading to Bone

The new advice from the American Association for Cancer Research is drink your milk. A strong skeleton is less likely to be penetrated by metastasizing cancer, and the best way to strengthen bone is dietary calcium. They believe that dietary calcium may be the way to prevent breast cancer from spreading to bone.

70 percent of patients who develop advanced breast cancer will have secondary tumors in the bone. The cancer breaks down the bone, which leads to more pain and leaves the bone even more susceptible to further cancer growth.

By studying the effects of a calcium deficient diet in mice, researchers at the ANZAC Research Institute in Australia concluded that calcium deficiency was a factor in higher cancer cell proliferation.

"These results could have implications for patients with breast cancer bone metastases or who are at high risk for developing metastatic disease," Dunstan said. "Many older women in our community are known to be calcium deficient due to low calcium dietary intake or due to vitamin D deficiency. These women could be at increased risk for the devastating effects of bone metastases."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

There's good news from the American Cancer Society. According to their statistics, the breast cancer rate continues to drop about 2 percent per year and has been doing so since 1990. However, the rates have not dropped as significantly for African-American women as they have for white women. Although the decrease in the overall rate is credited to early detection and treatment, the recent drop in reported cancers may be due in part to fewer women having regular mammogram screenings.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, accounting for one in four cancers diagnosed in US women. Some risk factors can't be changed, such as gender, race and family history. However, some risk factors for breast cancer can be eliminated with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

For information on screening, detection, risk factors and treatment for breast cancer, go to the American Cancer Society website.

Get involved in the fight against breast cancer by participating or supporting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks being held country wide.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chocolate Relieves Fatigue for CFS Sufferers

There's some tantalizing news from Hull York Medical School. In a study, researchers found that eating dark chocolate reduced symptoms of fatigue in sufferers of CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME.

CFS causes a range of symptoms including a feeling of great fatigue in muscles after physical exertion.

In the study, patients were given a daily dose of either dark chocolate or white chocolate dyed to look like dark chocolate for two months. The researchers then let another month pass before starting the patients on the other type of chocolate.

The results were that those eating dark chocolate reported less fatigue but when switched to the other type of chocolate, their complaints of fatigue increased. Researchers think that the high polyphenol content of dark chocolate may have an effect on levels of serotonin in the brain.

Professor Steve Atkin stated that more research is needed but that there was no harm in eating a small amount of dark chocolate. "If you derive benefit, then it's a no-harm, no-risk situation", he said.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Carbs Not The Dieter's Enemy

There's good news for carb-lovers. According to University of Virginia professor Glenn Gaesser, carbohydrates don't deserve the bad reputation they have among dieters. Eating carbs won't make you fat, not even the occasional doughnut. Gaesser, author of It's the Calories, Not the Carbs states carbs are not the dieter's enemy.

Gaesser has authored an article in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in which he explains that diets high in carbohydrates are almost universally associated with slimmer bodies. He cites studies in the US that indicate that high carb diets are linked to better weight control.

Carbohydrates have been categorized into "good" carbs and "bad" carbs according to their glycemic index, a measure of how much they raise blood sugar. But according to Gaesser, digestion is a complicated process and there is no way to know the glycemic load of a whole meal.

Reducing any part of the diet — carbs or proteins or fats — will result in modest weight loss in the short term, if calorie consumption is reduced, he points out. But for long-term weight maintenance, a high-carb, low-fat diet is still the best bet, he said.

"Bad Carbs" Not the Enemy, U Va. Professor says

Friday, September 28, 2007

Anorexics Show Difference in Sensing Taste

An imaging study using fMRI has shown distinct differences in responses in the region of the brain known as the insula in women with anorexia nervosa and may shed light on the cause of the disorder. The insula is important for recognizing taste and the researchers think that women with anorexia may have difficulty recognizing taste and responding to the pleasure of food.

The study the study led by Angela Wagner, M.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Walter H. Kaye, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Schools of Medicine involved 16 women who had recovered from anorexia nervosa and a control group of 16 women who did not suffer from the disorder. They measured their brains’ reactions to pleasant taste (sucrose) and neutral taste (distilled water.) The findings suggest that women who have recovered from anorexia had significantly reduced response in the insula and related brain regions when compared to the control group. These areas of the brain recognize taste and judge how rewarding that taste is to the person.

“We know that the insula and the connected regions are thought to play an important role in interoceptive information, which determines how the individual senses the physiological condition of the entire body,” said Kaye.

“Interoception has long been thought to be critical for self-awareness because it provides the link between thinking and mood, and the current body state.”

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by the pursuit of thinness, leading to emaciation and may be lethal in ten percent of cases. Women are nine times more likely to suffer from anorexia than men.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Whether you drink wine, beer or spirits, your risk of breast cancer increases with alcohol intake. The type of alcohol you consume seems to make no difference, it is the quantity consumed.
These are the results of a study of over 70,000 multi-ethnic women and their drinking habits. According to Dr Arthur Klatsky, speaking at the European Cancer Conference in Barcelona, drinking more than 3 alcohol drinks per day amounted to a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

“A 30% increased risk is not trivial. To put it into context, it is not much different from the increased risk associated with women taking oestrogenic hormones. Incidentally, in this same study we have found that smoking a pack of cigarettes or more per day is related to a similar (30%) increased risk of breast cancer.”

Dr Klatsky is adjunct investigator in the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland.

To read the full report, go here

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Acetaminophen and Caffeine Combined Cause Liver Damage

A new report from the researchers at the University of Washington indicates that combining acetaminophen with caffeine could cause liver damage.

Acetaminophen has been shown to cause liver damage in cases of overdose and it has long been known that combining acetaminophen with alcohol can cause liver damage, but the new study implicates caffeine as another substance that should not be taken at the same time as acetaminophen.

Acetominophen products often have caffeine added because it enhances the effects of the pain-killer. Researchers say the doses used in the experiment were higher than a human would normally consume but they do not have data on what doses would be harmful to humans. The experiments involved in the research were carried out on genetically modified E. coli bacteria and rats.

Dr. Sid Nelson, Team Leader:
“People should be informed about this potentially harmful interaction,” Nelson says. “The bottom line is that you don’t have to stop taking acetaminophen or stop taking caffeine products, but you do need to monitor your intake more carefully when taking them together, especially if you drink alcohol.”

In the UK, there are already restrictions on the amount of tablets of acetaminophen that consumers can buy over the counter because of the possibility of liver damage.

American Chemical Society

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lack of Sleep Doubles Risk of Death

A new study from the University of Warwick and University College London indicates that too little sleep can increase your risk of death from all causes but can double the risk of death from specifically cardiovasular-related problems.

Conversely, the study also concluded that sleeping too much, more than 8 hours per night on a regular basis, also increased mortality risk.

“Short sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for weight gain, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes sometimes leading to mortality but in contrast to the short sleep-mortality association it appears that no potential mechanisms by which long sleep could be associated with increased mortality have yet been investigated. Some candidate causes for this include depression, low socioeconomic status and cancer-related fatigue.” Francesco Cappucio, University of Warwick

The researchers concluded that a sleep cycle of 7 hours per night is optimal in terms of prevention.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two Thirds of Women Unaware of HRT Study Findings

The Womens Health Initiative in 2002 was a long-term study of postmenopausal women and hormone replacement therapy. HRT was commonly prescribed for menopausal women, based on studies that showed it might protect women against heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia. However, data from the study showed that women taking HRT had higher rates of breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke and the study was halted in 2004. Researchers concluded that the risks of HRT well outweighed the benefits.

However, two years after the WHI study on the health risks and potential dangers of hormone replacement therapy, less than one-third of all women were aware of the study. These are the findings of researchers at Stanford University.

Only 29 percent of women were aware of the study. Women surveyed were able to correctly identify possible risks and benefits of hormone therapy only 40 percent of the time.

Senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the new study points out that the medical profession hasn’t yet figured out an effective way of communicating crucial health information to patients.

“This study suggests that we have a flawed mechanism for getting information down to the level of the population,” Stafford said. “Although we looked specifically at menopause and hormone therapy, the findings have consequences for many other medical issues.”

Stafford found that of the women who were aware of the WHI study, 36% had discussed the issue of HRT with their physicians.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

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