October 2011

Teens, obesity and blood pressure, girls fare worse

Gender Differences in Blood Pressure Appears As Early As Adolescence, With Girls Faring Worse

The female hormone estrogen is known to offer protection for the heart, but obesity may be taking away that edge in adolescent girls. New research from the University of California at Merced finds that although obesity does not help teens of either gender, it has a greater impact on girls’ blood pressure than it does on boys’.

Black licorice: Trick or Treat?

As it turns out, you really can overdose on candy—or, more precisely, black licorice.  Black licorice is an old fashioned treat that can be harmful if you eat too much. If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

Days before the biggest candy eating holiday of the year (Halloween) , the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages moderation if you enjoy snacking on the old fashioned favorite.  So, if you’re getting your stash ready for Halloween, here’s some advice from FDA:

Regular stretching just as good as yoga for back pain

Yoga can relieve lower back pain, but it’s the stretching that helps, not the meditation. A new study found that yoga and regular stretching were equally effective at improving lower back pain symptoms, suggesting that the mindfulness promoted by yoga doesn’t do much for certain hurts.

More than 200 adults with lower back pain were randomly assigned to take yoga classes, stretching classes or to read a book about exercise and lifestyle changes. Both the yoga and stretching classes focused on strengthening the back and leg muscles.

Birth Defects may be linked to high blood pressure, not treatment therapies

Women who take angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to treat high blood pressure in the first trimester of their pregnancies are at no greater risk of having babies with birth defects than are women who take other types of high blood pressure medication or who take no blood pressure drugs, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Decorative contact lenses: Is your vision worth it?

Wouldn’t it be cool to have Twilight vampire eyes for Halloween?   Or deep violet eyes to match your purple sweater?   How about your favorite sports team’s logo on your eyes just for fun?

You can have all of these looks with decorative contact lenses (also called fashion contact lenses or color contact lenses, among other names). These lenses don’t correct vision—they just change the appearance of the eye.

But before buying decorative lenses, here’s what you should know:


Estrogen may protect against stroke in younger women

Contrary to popular belief that estrogen is a risk factor for stroke at all ages, researchers found that the sex hormone actually may prevent strokes in premature or early menopausal women. For the research, published in the journal Menopause, Mayo Clinic scientists analyzed seven other studies to determine how premature or early menopause is associated with stroke.

They found that women who had their ovaries removed before age 50 were more likely to suffer a stroke than women who did not have a bilateral oophorectomy before age 50. But hormone therapy seemed to lower the increased stroke risk for the first group of women, suggesting that a lack of estrogen is linked to the greater risk.

In addition, the age of menopause onset was more important to stroke risk than whether menopause was natural or induced, with earlier onset menopause connected to higher stroke risk.

Sex after 50! Of course, but be smart!

Many women over 50 continue to have an active sex life but most of the messages and campaigns about safe sex are aimed at younger generations.  A new study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs (no pun intended) stresses the need for better communication between doctors and their older patients about sexual health and ways to negotiate with partners about safe health practices.

Stress and Breast Cancer in minority women

An article published in the Chicago Tribune discussed the findings from a recent study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research which found an association between high stress levels and aggressive forms of breast cancer, and that black and Latina women tend to have higher stress levels than white women.