Women's Health Watch

Pharmacy Times
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Weight Loss Before Middle Age MayThwart Diabetes

Researchers in Australia have concluded that women whoare overweight or obese and want to fend off diabetes shouldstrive to lose those extra pounds before reaching middle age.They found that a woman?s body mass index (BMI) in her late40s was the strongest indicator of a future risk of developingdiabetes in the next 8 years. Surprisingly, there was no linkbetween weight loss in later years and the likelihood of developingthe disease. The findings were published in the June2007 issue of Diabetes Care.

Investigators from the University of Queensland looked atdata from 7239 middle-aged (45 to 50 years) women whowere participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study onWomen?s Health. The women completed health surveys atthe start of the study and again at 2-, 5-, and 8-year intervals.

Those women with a BMI of =25 at study start (indicatingbeing overweight or obese) were at the highest risk of developingtype 2 diabetes in the following 8 years. Women with aBMI of =35 had a risk 12 times greater than their normal-weightpeers of developing the disease. The researchersurged that ?public health initiatives should target the preventionof weight gain before and during early adulthood? to helpstave off future occurrences of diabetes.Older Women with Poor MemoryAlso Can Have Poor Sleep

Aging women with memory problems are more likely toalso have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep thanthose without memory problems, according to a recentstudy. Researchers from the University of California, SanFrancisco, studied almost 2500 women, average age 69years, who had no signs of memory problems at the beginningof the study. The women took cognitive tests over aperiod of 15 years, and at the end of the study they wereassessed for problems with sleeping.

The results showed that women who experienced signs ofmental decline ?were nearly twice as likely to have difficultystaying asleep and one-and-a-half times as likely to haveproblems falling asleep and being awake for more than 90minutes during their sleep cycle,? the study author stated.Women who showed cognitive decline on even one of thetests also were almost twice as likely to take a nap longerthan 2 hours during the day.

Researchers speculate that the relationship between the 2could be the ?brain changes seen in Alzheimer?s disease orother dementias that could increase risk of both memoryloss and sleep problems.? Their findings were published inthe July 17, 2007, issue of Neurology.Younger Smokers Raise Their Breast Cancer Risk

The effects of cigarette smoking on the development ofbreast cancer may be greatest in younger women whohave not yet had children. Although there is not a specificlink between breast cancer and smoking, recent researchhas connected smoking in youth to a greater risk of the disease,according to findings published in the July 1, 2007,issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The investigators studied 56,042 women who were participatingin a long-term study of radiologic technologistsand were free of cancer when they were surveyed at thestart of the study (between 1983 and 1993). Before the secondsurvey took place (between 1994 and 1998), 906women developed breast cancer.

Among women who had children, the amount theysmoked before having their firstborn was linked to the riskof developing the cancer.

Women who had smoked for 10 pack-years (number ofpacks per day times number of years as a smoker), forexample, were 78% more likely to develop breast cancerthan those women who had never smoked. No relationshipwas found between smoking after the birth of the first childand breast cancer risk, however.Smoking May Hasten Menopause

Researchers have found that womenwho smoke are more likely to experiencethe onset of menopause before the ageof 45 years, which makes them moresusceptible to osteoporosis and heartdisease. Women who smoked in thepast, however, and quit at least 10 yearsbefore their menopause began, or beforethey reached middle age, were less likelyto begin their ?change of life? before 45than whose who currently smoke.

Investigators at the University of Osloin Norway studied a group of 2123women aged either 59 or 60 years whowere participating in the Oslo HealthStudy. They found that those whosmoked were 59% more likely to haveearly menopause. The researchers alsofound that passive smoking, as well asalcohol and coffee consumption, had nosignificant effect on early menopause.They concluded that, ?the earlier awoman stops smoking, the more protectionshe derives with respect to anearly onset of menopause.? The studywas published in the July 7, 2007, issueof BMC Public Health.

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