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Posts tagged ‘Women’

Eating Strawberries and Blueberries Cuts Heart Attack Risk by Third

(Photo : Angelo DeSantis/Flickr) Three or more weekly servings of blueberries and strawberries could cut women’s risk of heart attack by a third.

Three or more weekly servings of blueberries and strawberries could cut women’s risk of heart attack by a third, according to a new study.

They study published in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that these berries contained high levels of beneficial dietary flavonoids called anthocyanins that may help dilate arteries, combat the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits.

Researchers said that these dietary flavonoids are also found in grapes, wine, blackberries, eggplant and other fruits and vegetables.

While other foods can also benefit heart health, the researchers specifically chose to analyze blueberries and strawberries because they are the most eaten berries in the United States.

“Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week,” senior author Eric Rimm said in a statement.

“This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts,” added Rimm, who is also an associate professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

Rimm and his team from Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, conducted a prospective study among 93,600 women between the ages of 25 and 42 who were registered with the Nurses’ Health Study II.

The women had completed surveys about their diet every four years for 18 years.

Researchers said that during the study, there were 405 heart attacks. The findings show that women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack compared to women who ate the berries only once a month or less. What’s more, the findings were true even in women who ate a diet rich in other fruits in vegetables.

“We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life,” Aedín Cassidy, lead author and head of the Department of Nutrition at Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom, said in a statement.

Researchers said that the findings were independent of other risk factors like age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body mass, exercise, smoking, caffeine or alcohol intake.

Light smoking ‘doubles sudden heart death risk in women’

Woman smoking

Women who are light smokers – including those who smoke just one cigarette a day – double their chance of sudden death, a large study suggests.

The research tracked the health of 101,000 US nurses over three decades.

Light-to-moderate smokers were twice as likely to die of sudden heart problems than those who had never smoked.

But those who quit smoking saw their risk begin to go back down within years, a journal of the American Heart Association reports.

Raised risk

During the study, there were 315 sudden cardiac deaths – where the heart unexpectedly stops working.

What this study really tells women is how important it is to stop smoking”

Dr Roopinder Sandhu University of Alberta

In people aged 35 or younger, this is usually because of a heart condition that runs in the family.

But in people who are older than this – as most of the nurses in the study were – it can be the first sign of coronary heart disease, where the heart’s arteries become blocked by fatty deposits.

Of the 315 sudden deaths in the study, 75 were among current smokers, 148 were among recent or past smokers and 128 occurred in people who had never smoked.

Reason to quit

After taking into account other heart risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history of heart disease, Dr Roopinder Sandhu and colleagues found the women who smoked were twice as likely to die suddenly even if they smoked “light-to-moderate” amounts – between one and 14 cigarettes a day.

For every five years of continued smoking, the risk went up by 8%.

But women who quit saw their risk fall to that of someone who had never smoked, after 20 years of cessation.

Dr Sandhu, of the the University of Alberta, Canada, said: “What this study really tells women is how important it is to stop smoking. The benefits in terms of sudden cardiac death reduction are there for all women, not just those with established heart disease.

“It can be difficult to quit. It needs to be a long-term goal. It’s not always easily achievable and it may take more than one attempt.”

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study shows that smoking just a couple of cigarettes a day could still seriously affect your future health.

“As we approach the new year, many of us will be making resolutions and giving up smoking will be top of the list for lots of people.

“If you’re thinking of quitting and need a nudge, this research adds to the wealth of evidence that stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health.”

A recent study in the Lancet of 1.2 million women found those who gave up smoking by the age of 30 would almost completely avoid the risks of dying early from tobacco-related diseases.

Latest figures suggest a fifth of women in England smoke.




Domestic abuse reports rise by 7% in a year in Scotland

Domestic abuse was most likely to happen to women aged between 22 and 25, the figures showed

The number of reported incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland has increased by 7% in a year, government figures have shown.

The chief statistician said police recorded 59,847 cases in 2011-2012, rising from 55,698 the previous year.

But there was a 4% drop in the number of domestic abuse incidents being recorded as a crime or offence.

The Scottish government said the figures showed too many women and men were still being subjected to abuse.

According to the figures, domestic abuse was most likely to happen in the home, where 87% of incidents took place in 2011-12.

The victim was most commonly a woman, with 81% of cases having a female victim and male perpetrator. And women were at most risk between the ages of 22 and 25, while men were most likely to be victims between 31 and 35 years old.

The number of cases with a male victim and female perpetrator stood at 17% in 2011-12, which is an annual increase of one percentage point. There has been an 8% rise in these cases since 2002-03.

A total of 62% of cases this year involved people who had also been a victim of domestic abuse in the past, compared to 55% in 2010-11.

Sex offences

Assault, which accounted for 44% of all incidents, was the most commonly recorded crime or offence, with threatening or abusive behaviour second most common, at 17%.

The categories which saw significant falls were breach of the peace – which fell from 8,034 last year to 3,281 in 2011-12 – and attempted murders and serious assaults, which dropped from 369 to 307 – the lowest level over the 10-year period.

We are concerned that so few reports are being recorded as a crime or offence, and would welcome further analysis as to why this is happening”

Dr Cheryl Stewart Scottish Women’s Aid

There was an increase in sex offences, from 185 in 2010-11 to 223 this year. In 2002-03 there were 79 reports of sexual offences so the current figure is nearly triple that of 10 years ago.

In 54% of cases, the domestic abuse incident was recorded as a crime or offence, compared to 58% the previous year.

The highest proportion of incidents to crimes was recorded by Grampian Police, at 69%, and the lowest was in the Lothian and Borders force area, at 33%.

And when an incident resulted in a crime or offence being recorded, a report was submitted to the procurator fiscal in 77% of cases in 2011-12, compared to 71.6% in 2010-11.

Dr Cheryl Stewart, from Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “That a report of domestic abuse is made every 10 minutes is alarming, and we remain committed to stopping domestic abuse in Scotland.

“However, we are cautiously hopeful that the most recent statistics represent a willingness in victims to come forward, as SWA’s members have also reported in increase in demand for their services.

“We are concerned that so few reports are being recorded as a crime or offence, and would welcome further analysis as to why this is happening.”

She added: “We want to see the police enabled to gather and build strong cases that bring perpetrators of domestic abuse to justice, and are particularly looking forward to working with Scotland’s new police force to improve practice and consistency in the handling of domestic abuse cases.

“The increase in crimes or offences reported to the Procurator Fiscal, however, is a positive step.

“Recent legislation around stalking and threatening or abusive behaviour is clearly being treated with appropriate seriousness – these are tactics commonly used by perpetrators to exert control over women and children, and we are pleased to see this recognised.”

‘Rigorous approach’

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “The authorities take domestic abuse extremely seriously with police adopting a rigorous approach to tackling incidents since 2005 and I welcome the increase in reports submitted to the procurator fiscal to 77% from 59% in 2002-03.

“The Scottish government has committed £34m to tackling domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women over the next three years – more than double the investment made previously and we will continue to prioritise this work.

“Since 2007, funding for Violence Against Women work, including domestic abuse, has doubled and the Scottish government has demonstrated its commitment to maintaining spending in this crucial area of work.”

He added: “We will also continue to work closely with police, councils, health boards and the voluntary sector to ensure that perpetrators are held to account, and that victims and their children have the services they require.”

Lewis Macdonald, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “To have such a high number of domestic abuse incidents is very concerning. While it may show that more victims are coming forward it also shows we need to do more to stop domestic abuse in the first place.

“The increase in repeat victims raises concerns about how victims are being supported when they first come forward to report abuse. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make this step and we need to ensure that when it is made, victims are protected.

“We need to roll out dedicated domestic abuse courts across the country and the single police force must take forward the example of Strathclyde Police by bringing forward a Domestic Abuse Taskforce.”


Bad news stories ‘alter women’s stress response’

Woman reading paper

Are women affected by the news more than men?


Bad news stories, such as those about murder, seem to alter the way women respond to stressful situations, according to a small study.

Women produced more stress hormones in tests if they had read negative newspaper stories.

The study on 60 people, published in the journal PLoS One, showed there was no equivalent effect in men.

Experts said the findings showed “fascinating” differences between the sexes.

Researchers in Canada compiled newspaper clippings of negative stories, including accidents and murders, as well as neutral stories such as film premieres.

Men and women read either negative or neutral stories and then did a scientific stress test. Levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, were measured throughout the study.

One of the researchers, Marie-France Marin, from the University of Montreal, said: “Although the news stories alone did not increase stress levels, they did make the women more reactive, affecting their physiological responses to later stressful situations.”

Men’s cortisol levels were not affected.

She added: “It’s difficult to avoid the news, considering the multitude of news sources out there.

“And what if all that news was bad for us? It certainly looks like that could be the case.”

‘Gender puzzle’

The scientists suggested that women may be naturally better at identifying threats to their children, which affects the way they respond to stress.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, from the institute of psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “According to self-report studies, women say they are more ‘stress reactive’ on average than men.

“This study adds fascinating new evidence of change in a stress hormone after an experimental… challenge.

“Stress researchers confront a real gender puzzle: As a group, women seem more reactive to stressors, but then they go on to outlive men by quite a few years.

“How do women manage to neutralise the effects of stress on their cardiovascular systems? An answer to that question would improve health for all of us.”

Other experts warned that the study was small so the reported effect would need further testing.


Fruit flies offer DNA clue to why women live longer

Fruit flies
Fruit flies can give clues to what happens in other species

Scientists believe they have discovered a clue to why women tend to live longer than men – by studying fruit flies.

Writing in Current Biology, they focus on mutations in mitochondrial DNA – the power source of cells.

Mitochondria are inherited only from mothers, never from fathers, so there is no way to weed out mutations that damage a male’s prospects.

But one ageing expert said there were many factors that explained the gender difference in life expectancy.

By the age of 85, there are approximately six women for every four men in the UK, and by 100 the ratio is more than two to one.

And females outlive males in many other species.

‘No effect’ on females

In the research, experts from Australia’s Monash University and the UK’s Lancaster University analysed the mitochondria of 13 different groups of male and female fruit flies.

Mitochondria, which exist in almost all animal cells, convert food into the energy that powers the body.

I certainly don’t think this is a discovery that explains why women live five-to-six years longer than men”

Prof Tom Kirkwood, Newcastle University

Dr Damian Dowling, of Monash University who was one of the researchers, said the results point to numerous mutations within mitochondrial DNA that affect how long males live, and the speed at which they age.

“Intriguingly, these same mutations have no effects on patterns of ageing in females,” he said.

“All animals possess mitochondria, and the tendency for females to outlive males is common to many different species.

“Our results therefore suggest that the mitochondrial mutations we have uncovered will generally cause faster male ageing across the animal kingdom.”

They suggest this is because there is no evolutionary reason for the faults that affect males to be picked up – because mitochondria are passed down by females.

Dr Dowling added: “If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed.

“Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed.”

Tom Kirkwood, professor of ageing at Newcastle University said the paper was “intriguing”.

He said: “It may be it does tell us something rather important about mitochondria and the difference between male and female fruit flies.

“And we know that mitochondria are important for ageing in a number of species.

“But I certainly don’t think this is a discovery that explains why women live five-to-six years longer than men.

“There are other things we know also count – lifestyle, social and behavioural factors. But the biggest difference in biology is that we have different hormones.”


Women urged to take care of heart


SINGAPORE: A new study of more than 15,000 Singaporean patients revealed women admitted for acute coronary syndrome — or the sudden blockage of arteries — were twice as likely to die as men.

Experts at the 8th Go Red for Women symposium, organised by the Singapore Heart Foundation, stressed that women must take action to care for their heart.

Acute coronary syndrome patients can experience tightness around the chest which usually leads to heart attacks and strokes.

Women’s risk for heart disease also increases after menopause, as oestrogen levels drop.

In fact, heart disease and stroke are the top killer of women.

Contrary to popular belief, cardiovascular diseases kill five times more women than breast cancer.

Health experts said heart disease could be under-diagnosed among females because symptoms may manifest differently, for example, in unexplained fatigue or pain in the jaw.

Experts said heart disease is mainly preventable through healthy diets and regular exercise.

Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: “Age, gender and heredity are some risk factors for heart disease and stroke that you cannot change in your lifetime.

“But there are behaviours that you can adopt to change other risk factors.

“This includes not smoking, controlling your high blood pressure and high cholesterol, preventing obesity and physical inactivity, and managing diabetes and stress.”

Dr Khor said there is little excuse for avoiding those jogging shoes, as the government has invested heavily in new outdoor spaces, from park connectors to mall walks in shopping centres.

Health authorities are also working towards better screening initiatives.

A new Women’s Health Advisory Committee is in the pipeline to better educate women about good health.

The Go Red for Women campaign is part of an international movement led by the American Heart Association, to encourage women to take action in reducing their risks of heart disease.


Citrus fruit may lower stroke risk in women: Research


WASHINGTON: Researchers have identified a compound found in oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits that may lower a woman’s stroke risk, according to China’s Xinhua news agency citing rsearch.


A research published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that this prospective study is one of the first in which researchers examine how consuming flavonoid subclasses affects the risk of stroke.


Previous studies suggest that eating fruits and vegetables helps protect against strokes, and many believe that antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids may explain why, because they have been shown to improve blood vessel function and they have anti-inflammatory effects.


Among other things, flavonoids give fruits and veggies their vibrant colors. They are also found in chocolate and red wine.


In the newly published study, flavonoids abundant in citrus fruits known as flavanones appeared to give the most protection against stroke.


Women whose diets included the highest amount of flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk of suffering a blood-clot-related stroke than women with the lowest intake of the compound.


“Our study supports the conclusion that flavanones are associated with a modest reduction in stroke risk,” says Aedin Cassidy, the study’s lead author and professor of nutrition at the University of East Anglia in the UK.


“Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti- inflammatory effect.”


Cassidy and colleagues used 14 years of follow-up data from the Nurse’s Health Study, which included 69,622 women who reported their food intake, including details on fruit and vegetable consumption every four years.


Researchers examined the relationship of the six main subclasses of flavonoids commonly consumed in the U.S. diet flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3- ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones with risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke.


As expected, the researchers didn’t find a beneficial association between total flavonoid consumption and stroke risk, as the biological activity of the sub-classes differ.


However, they found that women who ate high amounts of flavanones in citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of blood clot-related (ischaemic) stroke than women who consumed the least amounts.


In the study, flavanones came primarily from oranges and orange juice (82 percent) and grapefruit and grapefruit juice (14 percent).


However, researchers recommended that consumers increase their citrus fruit intake, rather than juice, due to the high sugar content of commercial fruit juices.


More studies are needed to confirm the association between flavanone consumption and stroke risk, and to gain a better understanding about why the association occurs, the authors sai.


Read More: The Star

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