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Women's Health Watch

WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH

Published Online: Tuesday, August 1, 2006   [ Request Print ]

"HealthyWomen Take 10" Campaign Encourages Change

The not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) issued a challenge to American women to make 10 small lifestyle changes as part of its "HealthyWomen Take 10" campaign, which was part of National Women's Health Week. The group hopes that women will use these tips "as motivation to examine their health habits and incorporate [them] into their busy lifestyle."

NWHRC encourages women to try these activities for 1 week and believes that they will see positive results quickly. These tips include taking a walk after dinner; consuming at least 2.7 liters (about 11 cups) of water a day; keeping appointments for regular checkups; using a pedometer to count how many steps they walk in a day; using sunscreen; eating more colorful produce; using salt and sugar substitutes; limiting alcohol intake; doing daily stretching; and using a daily multivitamin.

The campaign was first launched in 2004 to help women cultivate healthier habits for a better overall quality of life. For more information, visit its Web site, www.healthywomen.org.


Calcium Could Help Women Watch Their Weight

Women in their 50s who consumed more than 500 mg of calcium a day in supplements gained 4 lb less over 10 years than women who did not take any calcium supplements, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle,Wash. Although there is evidence that calcium can help women keep weight off, the investigators were hesitant to actually recommend calcium as a weight-maintenance aid and said that randomized clinical trials are still needed to confirm any connection between calcium and weight-gain prevention.

Researchers looked at weight gain and calcium intake over an 8-to 12-year period in 10,591 men and women between 53 and 57 years of age. Whereas calcium intake had no effect on weight gain in men, they found that the women who took 500 mg or more of calcium supplements a day gained an average of 11.2 lb over 10 years, while women who took no calcium supplements gained an average of 15.2 lb. The results were published in the July 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.


Give the Monthly Visitor the Boot: Making Periods Optional

Thanks to birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives, many women are opting to forgo their monthly periods altogether. The practice is becoming more popular among younger women and those going through menopause, and some physicians say that "there's no reason you need a period."

Some birth control pills already advertise the secondary benefit of limiting menstruation to 4 times a year, and other such pills are on their way to the US market with the promise of limiting or even eliminating the monthly period. Many physicians agree that suppressing menstruation is not any more harmful than regular long-term birth control use, and a survey found that a majority have prescribed contraception for the sole purpose of preventing periods.

A Web survey done for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals found that at least two thirds of women who responded were plagued with fatigue, heavy bleeding, anger, and "really bad cramps" at the time of their periods. Some women experience debilitating pain and other, more serious problems, and nearly 50% of the women surveyed would like to have more control over when to have a period, or to have no period at all.


American Women in the Dark on Lung Cancer

A new survey found that US women are greatly uninformed about the dangers of lung cancer. The survey of over 500 women across the country lists the statistics of lung cancer in America and also shows a widespread lack of awareness.

According to the National Lung Cancer Partnership (NLCP), which published the survey, only 41% of women know that lung cancer is the number-1 cancer killer in the United States. Only 8% knew that exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer; 60% believe that exposure to secondhand smoke is the number-2 cause. Only 29% knew that lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers combined; and only 18% were aware that women make up the majority of lung cancer patients under 40.

Another serious mistake that 25% of women make about lung cancer is believing that "there is a standard screening test to detect lung cancer in its early stages. Although such tests are in development, there is no clinically approved screening test" for lung cancer, the NLCP said.


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