Women's Health Watch

Pharmacy TimesNovember 2009
Volume 75
Issue 11

Produce Protects Pregnant Women from Upper Respiratory Problems

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are no fun for anyone, with the possibility of a cold or sinus infection turning into asthma or pneumonia, but they can especially wreak havoc on pregnant women’s already taxed bodies. Researchers have found that women who are with child can moderately decrease their risk of developing a URTI by consuming a minimum of 7 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

For the study, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine observed >1000 pregnant women and found that those who consumed the largest amount of fruits and vegetables lowered their chance of developing URTIs by 26%, compared with those who ate the least amount of produce. The nutrition in fruits and vegetables boosts immune systems to fight off the infections, but notably, the protection provided by both together was not observed for either fruit or vegetable intake alone.

The study was published online in the Public Health Nutrition journal.

Babies Can Be Protected from Getting HIV-1 from Breast-feeding

Mothers with HIV-1 have a much lessened likelihood of transmitting the virus to their babies through breast-feeding if they are being treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), according to a new study. Those receiving HAART had an 82% reduction in HIV-1 transmission to their newborns, the results showed.

For the study, published online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases (November 15, 2009), the researchers studied 2318 Malawian infant/mother pairs. Decreased HIV-1 transmission was found in mothers with CD4 counts that were low enough to allow them to be treated with HAART, compared with those with low counts who did not receive the therapy. The transmission rate from mother to infant for those treated with HAART was 1.8%.

Diet Rich in Folate Helps Curb Colon Cancer Risk

Recent research has found that diet plentiful in the B vitamin found in green, leafy vegetables, legumes, and citrus fruits may significantly reduce women’s risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (August 2009).

In accordance with folate deficiency increasing one’s risk of developing CRC or having the disease progress due to ineffective DNA synthesis, the researchers found that a high level of dietary folate resulted in a decreased risk of CRC in women. Those consuming >300 mcg daily were found 64% less likely to develop CRC than women in the study consuming the lowest amounts (≤200 mcg daily). Folate consumption did not have any significant impact on men’s CRC risk. The researchers, who studied a Korean population, noted that CRC is becoming more prevalent in Korea and linked the upswing in cases to a more westernized diet being adopted there.

HHS Booklet Keeps Women Abreast of Breast Health

A newly updated guide from the National Cancer Institute is aimed at addressing the concerns of women patients who have observed breast changes or received abnormal mammogram results. Entitled Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women, the booklet explains crucial followup actions in testing, diagnosis, and treatment when breast changes are discovered.

Available free of charge, the booklet urges women to consult with health care providers regarding breast changes and provides tools to prepare for such doctor visits, including questions to ask. It also provides educational information about possible mammogram results and follow-up tests for diagnosis, as well as breast conditions and their treatments. Worksheets allow readers to take a proactive approach by filling in their personal and family medical histories, along with information about breast changes or problems.

Aside from its educational aspect, the guide also provides women with reassurance about breast health, letting them know that most changes, even if considered abnormal, are not cancer and featuring sections on finding emotional support and additional resources.

Get the booklet by calling 800-4-CANCER or visiting www. cancer.gov and then clicking on “NCI Publications” in the “Quick Links” box.

FAST FACT: Using tampons puts women at greater risk of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS) than using pads. Women using tampons should seek medical care immediately if they experience any TSS symptoms, including sudden high fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and/or fainting, sunburn-like rash, sore throat, or bloodshot eyes.

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