To Your Health
New Women’s Health Risks
The latest news has been loaded with bad tidings–especially for women–this year
There are several pieces of recent research that have revealed three new women’s health risks you should must know now.
Meat and Your Heart
Okay, our hearts are essentially meat, but that doesn’t mean they are happy when we eat it. A study by the U.S. National Cancer Institute published in The Archives of Internal Medicine this year found that eating too much meat could shorten your life. Reducing meat consumption to match the bottom 20 percent of the half million people studied (that’s less than 5 ounces a week, so you have to really think vegetarian) reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by a whopping 50 percent for the women studied. Bonus points: It also reduces the risk of cancer death by about 20 percent.
Alcohol and Your Breasts
Two major studies point to an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk. A study of nearly 1.3 women by epidemiologists at Oxford University in Great Britain, published in February, found that just one drink per day (whether liquor, beer, or even the glass of red wine we used to feel good about drinking because research showed it protected against heart disease) increased by six percent the risk of developing breast cancer by age 75. A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, published around the same time, found a 24 percent increase in breast cancer for women who consumed 14 or more drinks a week. If you’ve had breast cancer, a third piece of research suggests you should stop drinking altogether. A study just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who drank alcohol had a 30 percent higher risk of developing cancer in their other breast than women who did not.
Most of us know the classic risk factors for this serious skin cancer: pale skin, blistering sunburns, freckling, a family history. Now researchers at New York University School of Medicine have found a hereditary link for melanoma. Women who have this genetic variation are four times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease, the deadliest form of skin cancer, before age 50. About 38 percent of the women with the MDM2 genetic variation were diagnosed between 30 and 39. If these results are duplicated in other research, a genetic test could identify women at high risk, just as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene tests now do for breast cancer.