WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH

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Women Who Vent Anger Risk Heart Problems

Some women who show their anger may be in danger of developing blockages in the heart arteries, according to new research. Past studies have linked anger and hostility to a higher risk of heart disease, but most of those studies focused on men. This latest study shows a relationship between anger and heart health in women. The findings were published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

Researchers found that women who tended to outwardly express their anger had a greater risk of artery blockages if they also had one of several other heart risk factors, such as older age, diabetes, or high cholesterol. The results were taken from 636 women who were taking part in the government-funded Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study, an investigation directed at improving heart disease diagnosis in women.All of the participants had chest pain or other potential symptoms of coronary artery disease and underwent angiography to seek out blockages in the heart arteries. They also completed standard measures of hostility and anger, which measured their temperaments and how they dealt with anger. Only expressed anger was linked to the risk of showing objective artery blockages on an angiogram.

Second Opinion May Help Breast Cancer Treatment

A study has shown that, after an initial diagnosis of breast cancer, women who received a second opinion from a team of specialists significantly altered their course of treatment in more than half of the cases, especially those involving recommendations for surgery. Conflicting diagnoses were found to include every aspect, from the interpretation of mammograms to the need for a mastectomy; of the 149 women in the study, 6 were found to have no breast cancer at all at the second consideration. The report was published in the November 15, 2006, issue of Cancer.

All the women in the study had been referred by their physicians to a specialized cancer center for a second opinion, and all the women brought biopsy slides, x-rays, and a surgeon's recommendation for treatment. Radiologists who specialized in reading breast cancer x-rays offered conflicting opinions for 45% of the patients. Reinterpretations of the images resulted in a change in surgical procedures for 11% of the women; rereadings of biopsy tissues led to changes for a separate 9%. The study was conducted at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Gaining Weight Between Pregnancies Harmful to Mom, Baby

A study that appeared in the September 30, 2006, issue of the Lancet showed that women who gain even a small amount of weight between pregnancies increase their risk of a poor outcome of the subsequent pregnancy. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied the records of over 150,000 Swedish women who had first and second consecutive births from 1992 until 2001. The researchers calculated body mass index (BMI) at the beginning of the first pregnancy, and again at the start of the second.Women who gained 3 or more BMI units between pregnancies were twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes, 76% more likely to have gestational hypertension, 30% more likely to have a cesarean delivery, and 63% more likely to have a stillbirth, compared with women who gained less than 1 BMI unit. The more weight they gained, the more likely they were to have an adverse outcome.

The authors stated that, since the time between births varied from 1 year to 10 years, some of the weight gains could be attributed to temporary postpartum weight retention, and unmeasured factors could have affected both maternal weight gain and pregnancy outcomes.

Cola Consumption Linked to Decreased Bone Density

A study that appeared in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that older women who drink cola—regular, diet, or decaffeinated—have significantly decreased mineral bone density, putting them at a higher risk for bone fracture.

Researchers measured the bone density of 1413 women and 1125 men, aged 60 years and older, who were taking part in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. They assessed the participants' diets using a food-frequency questionnaire and found that the more cola women drank, the lower their bone density; women who drank cola daily had reduced bone density at the hip ranging from 2.1% to 5.4%, compared with women who drank no cola.

Scientists at Tufts University's Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (Boston, Mass) found no connection between bone density and the consumption of other kinds of soft drinks, and cola had no effect on the bone density of men. They speculate that the main difference between colas and other soft drinks is that cola contains caffeine, phosphoric acid, and cola extract. Caffeine and phosphoric acid may be harmful to bone health, but the exact reason for the reduction in bone density in women is still unclear.