Women's Health Watch

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Healthy Living Prolongs Life

Harvard University researchers foundthat women with a healthy lifestyle greatlyreduce their risk of dying from anycause, particularly from heart diseaseand cancer.

For the study, the researchers lookedat data on 77,782 women who participatedin the Brigham and Women's HospitalbasedNurses Health Study. Beginning in1980, the participants responded to yearlyquestions about lifestyle and health.The researchers estimated that the overallrisk of death was reduced by 55% forwomen who never smoked, ate a healthydiet, maintained a healthy weight, andremained physically active. Furthermore,these women had a 44% lower risk ofdying from cancer and a 72% lower riskof dying from heart disease.

The researchers also calculated individualrisk factors. They found that28% of the deaths were attributed tosmoking, 14% from being overweight,17% due to the lack of physical activity,and 13% to not eating healthy. Of thenonsmokers, 22% of deaths were dueto being overweight. The findings werepublished in the September 17, 2008,online edition of the British MedicalJournal.

Female Incontinence Is Common

Pelvic floor disorders, such as urinary incontinence, fecalincontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse, are especially commonin women in the United States. The findings are basedon a review of data from nearly 2000 women over the age of20 who had participated in the 2005-2006 National Health andNutrition Examination Survey.

The participants were interviewed at home and were givena physical in a mobile examination center. The researchersfound that 23.7% of women experienced at least one pelvicfloor disorder. Nearly 16% of women reported urinary incontinence,9% experienced fecal incontinence, and 2.9% reportedpelvic organ prolapse. The findings were recently published inthe Journal of the American Medical Association.

Artery Disease,Secondhand SmokeLinked, Study Says

A study of Chinese women found that secondhand smokeexposure is a key risk factor for peripheral arterial disease.The study included 1209 women age 60 and older who neversmoked. Reporting in the September 22, 2008, online issue ofCirculation, the researchers learned that 477 patients wereexposed to secondhand smoke at home or in the workplacefor at least 2 years during the previous decade. The findingsindicated that secondhand smoking raised the risk of peripheralarterial disease by 67% and the odds of heart disease andstroke by 69% and 56%, respectively. The risk of these problemsalso increased as the amount and duration of secondhandsmoke rose.

Education Needed onOsteoporosis-Fracture Risk

A large, global survey showed that more than half of womenwith osteoporosis do not believe they are at a higher risk forexperiencing a fracture, an issue of concern and frustration forthe international research team.

"Despite the fact that awareness of osteoporosis itself hasincreased lately, many of these women just don't get it. Not justin the United States, but all over the world," said study coauthorEthel S. Siris, MD.

The study involved >60,000 noninstutionalized women overthe age of 55 who had visited their primary health care physicianin the 2 years leading up to the study at 1 of 17 health care facilitiesin 10 countries. At the time of the study, a little more than11,000 women had osteoporosis. The study results showed that55% of women diagnosed with the bone-weakening disease didnot believe they ran a higher risk of fractures, compared withwomen without the disease.

Weight Does Not ImpedeSexual Activity

A high body mass index (BMI), indicating that a woman is overweightor obese, may not play a major role in her sexual activity,according to a study reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology(September 2008). The findings are based on surveys from6690 women, 15 to 44 years old, who participated in the 2002National Survey of Family Growth.

Overall, 54% of the women were of normal body weight (BMI<25). Of the remaining participants, 25% were overweight (BMIbetween 25 and 30) and 21% were considered obese (BMI >30).The researchers found no considerable differences among theweight groups in sexual orientation, sexual intercourse frequency,age at first intercourse, the number or lifetime male partners,or the number of male partners in the previous year. Theinvestigators recommend further research into the link betweenBMI and women's sexual behavior because it can affect the riskof unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

F A S T F A C T: At least 1 in 4 US women experiences a pelvic floor disorder.