Lifestyle Works

Women Affected at Both Ends of Life

It has been a well known fact that girls who have lived a life on a vegetarian diet develop into puberty much later than those who have had high meat intake. Further studies are now showing that girls who consume a lot of sugary drinks may enter puberty earlier than girls who don't, Harvard researchers report.

Among nearly 5,600 girls aged 9 to 14 who were followed between 1996 and 2001, the researchers found that those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who drank two or fewer a week.

Now that may not seem such a great time difference, but the article goes on to say, "Starting periods early is a risk factor for depression during adolescence and breast cancer during adulthood. Thus, our findings have implications beyond just starting menstruation early," said study first author Jenny Carwile, a postdoctoral associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.

Sugary drinks containing sucrose, glucose or corn syrup have already been linked to weight gain, and this new study shows another negative side effect of these drinks.

At the mature end of life, women are also affected in their cycle system. Extensive exposure to common chemicals appears to be linked to an earlier start of menopause, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that menopause typically begins two to four years earlier in women whose bodies have high levels of certain chemicals found in household items, personal care products, plastics and the environment, compared to women with lower levels of the chemicals.

The investigators identified 15 chemicals — nine (now banned) PCBs, three pesticides, two forms of plastics chemicals called phthalates, and the toxin furan — that were significantly associated with an earlier start of menopause and that may have harmful effects on ovarian function.

"Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman's life and has profound implications for fertility, health and our society," says study author Dr. Amber Cooper.

Along with reducing fertility, a decline in ovarian function can lead to earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems, the researchers said. Prior research has also linked the chemicals with some cancers, early puberty and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of health conditions occurring together that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air," Cooper said. "But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use."

For example, she suggested that people microwave food in glass or paper containers instead of in plastic, and learn more about the ingredients in their cosmetics, personal-care products and food packaging.

In all this, it certainly would be beneficial to at least be aware of ingredients used in products many women of all ages use on a day to day basis; and their impact on health.

                          ~ Drawn from HealthDay News, 27, 28 January 2015


According to the World Health Organization, “80% of the Earth’s inhabitants rely upon the traditional medicine for their primary health-care needs, in part due to high cost of Western pharmaceuticals. Medicines derived from plants have played a pivotal role in the health care of both ancient and modern cultures.” One of the prime sources of plant-derived medicines is spices. Turmeric, for example, has been consumed over the centuries around the world. Turmeric is known by different names in different societies—my favorite of which is probably “zard-choobag.”

Turmeric is the dried powdered root stalks of the turmeric plant—a member of the ginger family—from which the orangey-yellow pigment curcumin can be extracted. The spice turmeric is what makes curry powder yellow, and curcumin is what makes turmeric yellow. In the video, Turmeric Curcumin and Rheumatoid Arthritis, you can see the molecular structure of curcumin. I always thought it kind of looked like a crab.

In recent years, more than 5,000 articles have been published in the medical literature about curcumin. Many sport impressive looking diagrams suggesting curcumin can benefit a multitude of conditions via a dizzying array of mechanisms. Curcumin was first isolated more than a century ago, but out of the thousands of experiments, just a handful in the 20th century were clinical studies, involving actual human participants. Most of the 5,000 were just in vitro lab studies, which I’ve resisted covering until the studies moved out of the petri dish and into the person. But since the turn-of-the-century, more than 50 clinical trials have been done, testing curcumin against a variety of human diseases, with 84 more on the way. One such study got my attention.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder that causes progressive destruction of the cartilage and bone of joints. The long-term prognosis of RA is poor, with as much as 80% of patients affected becoming disabled with a reduced life expectancy. There are lots of drugs one can take, but unfortunately they’re often associated with severe side effects including blood loss, bone loss and bone marrow suppression, and toxicity to the liver and eyes.

The efficacy of curcumin was first demonstrated over 30 years ago in a double-blind crossover study: curcumin versus phenylbutazone, a powerful anti-inflammatory that is used in race horses. Both groups showed significant improvement in morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling, with the complete absence of any side effects from curcumin (which is more than can be said for phenylbutazone, which was pulled from the market three years later after wiping out people’s immune systems and their lives).

In the new study, 45 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis were randomized into three groups: curcumin, the standard of care drug, or both. The primary endpoint was a reduction in disease activity as well as a reduction in joint tenderness and swelling. All three groups got better, but interestingly the curcumin groups showed the highest percentage of improvement, significantly better than those in the drug group. The findings are significant and demonstrate that curcumin alone was not only safe and effective, but surprisingly more effective in alleviating pain compared to the leading drug of choice, all without any adverse side effects. In fact, curcumin appeared protective against drug side effects, given that there were more adverse reactions in the drug group than in the combined drug and curcumin group. In contrast to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), curcumin has no gastrointestinal side effects, and may even protect the lining of the stomach.

~ Dr. Michael Greger M.D., 27 January 2015

Recipe of the Month

Red Lentils
2 c Water
1 t Italian Herbs
1 c Red Lentils
½ t Turmeric
½ t Salt
1 T Olive Oil
Place water and lentils into saucepan. Simmer together for 10mins. Add salt, Italian herbs and turmeric. Continue to simmer till lentils are cooked (10mins). Take off heat, add olive oil and stir in. Serve over brown rice or toast.