WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH
Hyperglycemia RaisesWomen's Heart Disease Risk
A new study found that higher bloodsugar levels in women can signal ahigher risk of heart disease. The studyfound that heart disease risk forwomen occurs at lower blood sugarlevels than for men. Also, for any bloodsugar level, women have a greater riskof developing diabetes than men. Thefindings were published in the January22, 2008, issue of the Journal of theAmerican College of Cardiology.
Researchers with the FraminghamHeart Study collected data on 4058 menand women who were children of theoriginal Framingham participants. Usingthe new guidelines for defining highblood sugar (between 100 and 125mg/dL), they found that the higher theparticipant's blood sugar level was atthe start of the study, the greater thechance of developing heart disease. Theresearchers also found that womenwhose blood sugar was at the leveldetermined by the older guidelines(between 110 and 125 mg/dL) had thesame risk of developing heart diseaseas women diagnosed with diabetes.
Obesity, DepressionGo Hand in Hand
A study by the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle,Washington, has found that many middle-aged womenlive with obesity and depression simultaneously, and inmost cases one condition helps to fuel the other.Womendiagnosed with clinical depression were more than twiceas likely to be obese (have a body mass index [BMI] of 30or more) as their nondepressed counterparts. Conversely,obese women were more than twice as likely tobe depressed, compared with nonobese women. The linkbetween the 2 conditions remained regardless of otherfactors, such as marital status, education, tobacco use,and antidepressant use.
The researchers also found that women with BMIs of30 or higher were less likely to exercise, had the poorestbody image, and consumed 20% more calories thanwomen with lower BMIs. The findings were published inthe January/February 2008 issue of the journal GeneralHospital Psychiatry.
Menopause SymptomsFade With Time
Women who experience headaches, irritability, and moodswings during the onset of menopause might be heartened toknow that these symptoms could lessen as menopause progresses.A new study from the University of Pennsylvania suggeststhat, in spite of the belief that menopause symptoms getworse with time, "a number of women will find relief oncemenopause is reached." The findings appear in the January2008 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Researchers followed the progress of 404 women, aged 35 to47 years, for 9 years to study how average menopause symptoms,as well as concentration problems and anxiety, mightchange during menopause. They saw that women who tendedto have headaches, irritability, and mood swings experienced adecrease in these symptoms as menopause drew nearer. Theresearchers suspect a correlation between the levels of folliclestimulatinghormones, which rise with the onset of menopause,and the easing of symptoms.
The Pros and Cons of Caffeine
Two recent reports on the effects of caffeine on womenmay have some rethinking their beverage choices. A studyfrom Harvard Medical School shows that caffeine helpswomen stave off ovarian cancers, but researchers at theKaiser Permanente Division of Research found that increasedcaffeine intake boosts the risk of miscarriage.
The first study examined data taken from health questionnairesfrom more than 121,000 women aged 30 to 35 yearswho were monitored for alcohol and caffeine intake, as wellas smoking, to determine the impact of these activities onovarian cancer risk. Researchers found that women whodrank more caffeine—whether in soda, tea, or coffee—wereat a lower risk. Neither smoking nor alcohol consumptionhad a noticeable effect, however. The findings were publishedin the January 22, 2008, issue of Cancer.
The second study (n = 1063) found that pregnant womenwho consume 200 mg or more of caffeine per day could doubletheir risk of miscarriage. Of the 264 women who said thatthey did not consume any caffeine, 12.5% experienced a miscarriage.In women who consumed 200 mg or more per day,however, the miscarriage rate jumped to 24.5%, after otherrisk factors were taken into account. The results were publishedin the online version of the American Journal ofObstetrics & Gynecology.
F A S T   F A C T : Women who sleep ≤5 hours a night are twice as likely to suffer from high blood pressure asthose who sleep ≥7 hours.