Nutrition and WOMEN'S HEALTH

Exercise may cut ovarian cancer risk: In a study comprised of over 2,000 women, where exercise alone was the focus, active women of all ages cut their risk for developing ovarian cancer by over 25 percent. scientists' study, which appeared in Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that women who exercise for at least 6 hours a week can boost hormones that suppress ovarian cancer, and generally tend to ovulate less, which also lowers the risk of cancer.

Carrots, spinach, vitamin A, and breast cancer: High intakes of foods rich in vitamin A or its carotenoid precursors have been associated with reduced risks of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, as shown in epidemiologic studies. It is biologically plausible that either carotenoids or retinol might be cancerpreventive, but it is uncertain whether the associations observed in these studies are due to these substances per se or to other constituents found in the same foods.

In a population-based case-control study conducted in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, 3543 women with breast cancer and 9406 controls completed questionnaires on food and supplement use. Foods specifically mentioned in the questionnaire included raw and cooked carrots and raw and cooked spinach (all of which are important sources of carotenoids) and liver and breakfast cereals (which are major sources of preformed vitamin A).

Consumption of carrots or spinach was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Eating either of these vegetables more than twice weekly, compared with no intake, was associated with an odds ratio of 0.56 (95% CI 0.34-0.91). Consumption of higher amounts of preformed vitamin A from foods and supplements was not consistently associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk.

These results indicate that foods rich in carotenoids, but not preformed vitamin A, are associated with reduced risk of breast cancer. It is uncertain, however, whether the relationship is attributable to carotenoids themselves or to other substances found in carrots and spinach.

Calcium During Breast-Feeding Disputed: Breast-feeding women have long been urged by dietary guidelines to consume extra calcium while breast-feeding to supplement the loss of bone density during this time. However, the claim that calcium supplementation in nursing mothers helps prevent bone mineral loss has recently been disputed. Researchers concluded that calcium supplementation does not prevent bone loss during lactation and only slightly enhances the gain in bone density after weaning.

Calcium-Enriched Foods May Prevent Kidney Stones: Eating more calcium-enriched foods may prevent kidney stones from forming. Approximately 70 percent of kidney stones are formed from calcium and oxalate, a compound more likely to be absorbed from food (and excreted in the urine) if calcium levels are low. However, it may be that another source in the calcium-enriched foods, such as phosphorous, is causing the adverse effect on kidney stones.

Calcium Does Not Prevent Preeclampsia: High doses of calcium during pregnancy do not prevent preeclampsia. in women who do not have any risk factors for the disease. In a study of healthy first-time mothers, half the group took 400 mg calcium tablets per day and the other half were given a placebo. Results indicated that 6.9 percent of the calcium group and 7.3 percent of the placebo group developed preeclampsia.

Juice Serves as Preventative Medicine: Orange juice may be effective in fighting breast cancer and high cholesterol. Researchers found that mice given orange juice or grape- juice in place of drinking water had 50 percent fewer tumors and metastases. The study group receiving flavanoids also had a reduction in tumors, but not to the extent of the groups receiving juices.

Vaccine May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections: An experimental vaccine consisting of FimH adhesion, a molecule found in E. coli, may help women avoid painful urinary tract infections. Tested in mice, the new vaccine reduced the amount of bacteria found in the bladder 100- to 1000-fold and the immunization stopped the bacteria from traveling to the kidneys.

Multivitamin Intake by Pregnant Mothers May Decrease Birth Defect Risk: Researchers reported that women taking multivitamins early in their pregnancies may actually decrease the risk of birthing a child with limb deformities. Study findings showed that, among the mothers who took a multivitamin at least one month prior to pregnancy, as well as during the first trimester, the chance of giving birth to a child with a deformed limb was one-third less than that of mothers only taking the multivitamins later in the pregnancy.

Flu During Pregnancy May Affect Fetus: Women who acquire the flu while pregnant may predispose the developing fetus to depression or other mental illnesses later in life. The study is useful in studying the origins of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or depression which also have been linked to flu season and pregnancy.

Folate Dietary Standards Do Not Account for Genetic Defect: A study of Irish women indicated that current dietary standards for the nutrient folate do not take into account the increased folate requirements for a large minority of people genetically at risk for an enzyme defect that causes a vitamin deficiency and predisposes them to having children with a neural tube defect.

Iron Supplements Benefit Learning Capabilities: Iron supplements given to teenage girls with mild iron deficiency can help their learning capacity. A study indicated that girls who received iron performed better on a test for verbal learning and memory than girls in the control group, suggesting that, even in absence of anemia, iron supplementation improves verbal learning and memory among adolescent girls.

Supplementation Increases Vitamin K in Breast Milk: Vitamin K supplementation in pregnant women increases the vitamin K content in breast milk, and reduces the risk of vitamin K deficiency in breast-feeding newborns. A 5 mg dose of vitamin K supplementation increased the vitamin K content of human milk to levels comparable with that in human formula.

Wild Yam is used in regulation of the female system: Wild Yam regulate the female system particularly during menopause and menstrual distress, as well as used in treating infertility. Used with chaste berry and dandelion it is an effective treatment for morning sickness. Usually found wild in the eastern half of North America, it is a perennial plant that is a low creeper, and occupies average to poor soils and full sun.

Dong quai is a remedy for menstrual cramps: Research has shown that don quai produces a balancing effect on estrogen activity, the herb to combat PMS and to help women resume normal menstruation after using birth control pills. The herb has been found useful in balancing and treating many female systems and cycles. Dong quai's constituents can act to stimulate the central nervous system which can remedy weakness and headaches associated with menstrual disorders. It strengthens internal reproductive organs, helps with endometriosis and internal bleeding or bruising. It relieves menopausal conditions such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.

Creatine Enhances High-Intensity Muscular Performance: Oral supplementation with creatine monohydrate was proven to enhance muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise in a study of 14 active men. It also demonstrated a "significant increase" in body mass after creatine ingestion. The researchers found that lifting performance was not altered after ingestion of placebos, but creatine supplementation "resulted in a significant improvement in peak power output during five sets of jump squats and a significant improvement in repetitions during five sets of bench presses."

Chromium Picolinate Enhances Insulin Action: A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 29 moderately obese people with a high risk of developing type II diabetes found that daily supplementation with 1,000 mcg of chromium supplied as chromium picolinate significantly enhanced the action of insulin. After four months, researchers reported that those taking 1,000 mcg of chromium from chromium picolinate reduced their insulin resistance by 40 percent.

Tonalin CLA Shows Weight-Loss Results: The first human clinical trials of Tonalin brand conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) caused an average weight loss of 4 percent. After 90 days, participants weighing an average of 156 pounds, reduced their body fat from 21.3 percent to 17 percent.

L-Carnitine Proves Effective in Obese Adolescents: A three-month study of eighteen obese adolescents given 2 g of L-carnitine per day along with physical training and dietary control showed that those given L-carnitine exhibited a more significant reduction in weight than those in the control group.

Vitamin C and Asthma: Taking a large dose of vitamin C prior to exercising may help some people stave off exercise-induced asthma (EIA). It is speculated that vitamin C present in the lungs may somehow protect against EIA. Earlier research indicated that people with asthma often have drastically lower blood levels of vitamin C than people without respiratory disease.

Grapefruit Juice Aids in Medication Absorption: Researchers reported that a single glass of grapefruit juice can significantly increase the absorption of a number of commonly used oral medications including all calcium channel blockers, some immunosuppressants, sedatives and protease inhibitors.

Broccoli Is Better at Chemoprotection: The potential of different lines of broccoli to stimulate a key enzyme that may protect against certain cancers can vary greatly. The scientists evaluated a diverse collection of broccoli breeding lines.

Broccoli florets and young seedlings are rich sources of glucoraphanin and its breakdown product, sulforaphane. The latter compound is a potent inducer of an enzyme that detoxifies cancer-causing compounds and inhibits early tumor growth in rodent models. Studies have shown that people who eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli have a lower incidence of colon and rectal cancers. Occurring in two out of 1,000 people, these account for 15 percent of all cancer deaths.

Effects of Vitamin Supplementation on Postmenopausal Women: In a study involving 34,000 postmenopausal women, researchers reported that there is no association between the consumption of vitamins A, C and E and a decreased risk of breast cancer. Researchers believe that evidence of previous positive claims made of the vitamins are inconsistent and not always significant.



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