Women's Health Watch

SEPTEMBER 01, 2008

Certain Habits Cause Weight Gain

Girls and young women who spend too much time on the Internet, do not get enough sleep, or regularly drink alcohol are more likely to put on extra weight.

For the study, >5000 girls between 14 and 21 years of age were followed for 1 year and were surveyed on the number of recreational hours per week they spend on the Internet, how long they sleep each night, and how much alcohol they consumed.

The researchers found that the more spare time girls spent on the Internet, the more their body mass index increased. As for sleep, the participants who got .5 hours tended to gain more weight, and those who had >2 alcoholic drinks per week also put on extra pounds. The findings were reported in the July 2008 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

F A S T   F A C T: AIDS is currently the leading cause of death for black women aged 25 to 44.

Gene Linked with Migraine Ups Stroke Risk

The risk of stroke is greater in women with a certain type of migraine, a version of the gene called MTHFR, reported researchers in the August 12, 2008, issue of Neurology. The effect was only seen in women who had migraine with aura. In this condition, they also experience visual, auditory, or other physical sensations.

The results are based on a study of 25,000 Caucasian women enrolled in the Women?s Health Study and had data on the MTHFR gene. At study onset, 3226 women experienced migraine, including 39.5% with auras. A total of 625 strokes, heart attacks, and related events were documented during nearly 12 years of follow-up.

The researchers concluded that it would be premature to recommend genetic testing for migraine patients. Instead, physicians should continue to counsel patients with migraine about risk factors they can change.

Uncontrolled BP High in Women

Women face unique challenges in controlling their blood pressure (BP), compared with men.

Researchers have found that women with high BP are more likely to be obese and have elevated cholesterol levels. They also are less likely to meet target goals for their BP. Furthermore, women also are less prone to receive medications such as BP-lowering drugs, compared with men.

Researcher Nieca Goldberg, MD, attributes one of the reasons to some women stopping their BP medication without talking with their physician, after experiencing side effects that can include insomnia, lethargy, and depression.

Diet also can have an impact on high BP. Researchers suggested switching to low-fat dairy foods and reducing fat and salt intake.

The findings help stress the American Heart Association's ongoing Go Red for Women campaign, which seeks to change the perception that high BP and heart disease are male health threats.

Skin Cancer Rates Climbing Fast

Incidences of melanoma are greatly increasing among younger women in the United States, according to a study published in the July 10, 2008, online edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The researchers determined that the number of cases increased from 9.4 per 100,000 in 1980 to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2004. The findings are based on data on the rate of melanoma among Caucasian men and women, 15 to 39 years of age. The data were culled from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, which is a network of regional cancer registries.

"These findings are important, because they suggest that public education campaigns to educate Americans about the risks of skin cancer from sun tanning do not appear to have resulted in a reduction in melanoma rates among young women," said Mark Purdue, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics.

Thyroid Hormone, Alzheimer?s Risk, Linked

Researchers found that high or low levels of the thyroid hormone thyrotropin may be linked with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease in women. Between 1977 and 1979, the researchers measured thyrotropin levels in 1864 individuals, average age 71, without cognitive problems. The group was then assessed for dementia every 2 years.

Reporting in the Archives of Internal Medicine (July 29, 2008), the researchers found that 209 participants developed Alzheimer's disease after 12.7 years of follow-up. The results indicated that women with the lowest (<1 mIU/L) and highest (>2.1 mIU/L) levels of thyrotropin had >2-fold increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

F A S T   F A C T: Only about 60% of women with high blood pressure are having it controlled.