March 2012

Adopting healthy lifestyles early (before problems start) can reduce heart risks

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle from young adulthood into your 40s is strongly associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age, according to a new Northwestern Medicine® study.

“The problem is few adults can maintain ideal cardiovascular health factors as they age,” said Kiang Liu, PhD, first author of the study. “Many middle-aged adults develop unhealthy diets, gain weight, and aren’t as physically active. Such lifestyles, of course, lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and elevated cardiovascular risk.”

Concerns about dietary supplements are legitimate

Dietary supplements are a $28 billion dollar business in America.  Thanks to 1994′s Hatch Act, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), pushed through Congress and released upon a then-unprotesting public by Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), substances which may be benign, toxic, and everything in between, as long as they are sold as “dietary nutritional supplements,” get a virtual free pass.

Celebrate Women’s History Month by remembering these women

Women’s History Month is an important time of reflection and celebration for all Americans. We recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of women throughout history, and we celebrate the power of their vital contributions to science, medicine and women’s empowerment. Here are a just a few of the many accomplishments done by women in the last century and a half.  Many of them were true pioneers in women’s health!

1835, Harriot Kezie Hunt opens her own medical practice focusing on women and children.  Because she is female, she is barred from hospitals and lectures at Harvard.

Breastfeeding and caffeine

Babies are not able to metabolize or excrete caffeine very well, so a breastfeeding mother’s consumption of caffeine may lead to caffeine accumulation and symptoms such as wakefulness and irritability, according to an interview with expert Ruth Lawrence, MD, published in Journal of Caffeine Research.  The interview is available on the Journal of Caffeine Research website.

High heels and foot problems

 High heel shoes can cause a number of foot problems, yet most women aren’t willing to give their shoes the boot, according to podiatrists at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). Ingrown toenails are among the most common problems that result from high heels. This condition, also known as onychocryptosis, occurs when the toes compress together making the big toenails grow into the skin.

Menopause Society Supports Extended Hormone Therapy

Menopausal hormone therapy doesn’t have to follow “the lowest dose for the shortest time” strategy for all women anymore, the North American Menopause Society said today.   The group endorsed a flexible approach to duration that takes into account the type and timing of therapy and individual patient characteristics in a statement in its journal, Menopause.

For women in their 50s, the absolute risks are low; younger women without a history of breast cancer can use replacement hormones at least until the normal menopause age around 51, and longer if needed for symptom management, according to the guidelines.

Blunt Amendment rejected by US Senate

BULLETIN:   Our previous blog discussed this amendment.   We’re delighted to report that Senate has voted 51-48 against an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow insurers to deny coverage of health services — such as birth control — if an employer objected on religious or moral grounds.

Women’s rights debated today!

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that over 20 million American women in private health insurance plans have already gained access to at least one free preventive service because of the health care law.  Without financial barriers like co-pays and deductibles, women are better able to access potentially life-saving services, and cancers are caught earlier, chronic diseases are managed and hospitalizations are prevented.