NutritionFacts.org

women's health

The number one cancer killer of women in the US is lung cancer; broccoli appears to be protective against the lung cancer spreading throughout the body. Beta carotene in foods may prevent ovarian cancer. A lower risk of lymphoma has been found in women who consume well cooked meats, suggesting the role of cancer-causing (oncogenic) viruses. Having lived with either a cat or dog is protective against cancer. And coffee drinking has been associated with lower cancer rates in women.

Flax seeds and soy food (see also here, here) may improve breast cancer survival rates. The following appear to reduce breast cancer risk: plant-based diet (see also here, here, here), broccoli (see also here), dark green leafies, black beans, organic strawberries, avocados, mushrooms (common white button is the best, see also here), apples, turmeric, cinnamon, green tea, herbal tea, grapes, coffee, and an hour of exercise a day. There is a theory that larger bowel movements (which result from a vegetarian diet) reduce breast cancer rates in women because they flush out excess estrogen. Breast cancer survival seems to be reduced with the intake of trans fat (found in foods such as animal products, cakes, cookies) and saturated fat (found in cheese and chicken). Other risk factors seem to include: multivitamins, light at night, total meat consumption (see also here), meat and dairy intake during adolescence, dairy intake in general (especially skim milk), cooked meat due to carcinogens, alcohol consumption, folic acid supplements, tanning beds, kimchi, and french fries and potato chips. Interestingly, breast cancer prevention and treatment may sometimes be the same thing, given the ability of tumors to grow undetected for years. But breast cancer patients may not want to take advice from health store employees on supplements and cancer treatments.

The sex steroid hormones in meat have been associated with female infertility, and the buildup of cholesterol in pelvic arteries may cause sexual problems in women. Soy may actually slow down early breast development in girls, whereas the steroids in meat may hasten the onset of puberty. Soy food consumption may also help reduce symptoms of menopause.

Women at high risk for heart disease who eat peanut butter every day may have only half the risk of suffering from a heart attack as women who did not eat peanut butter. Women appear to absorb the calcium in soymilk just as well as the calcium from cow’s milk. Urinary tract infections from E. coli appear to be caused by poultry consumption. Eating oatmeal every day was found to extend women’s lives in a study. Dried apples have been found to result in an LDL cholesterol drop in postmenopausal women. A plant-based diet has also been associated with a lower diabetes rate in women.

Pregnant and nursing vegan/vegetarian women should get tested for a vitamin B12 deficiency and use supplements or fortified foods to ensure correct levels (see also here, here). This is also true for iodine. Caffeine during pregnancy should be limited to under 300mg per day. Pregnant women should avoid canned tuna and corn syrup entirely due to the mercury levels (see also here, here, here). Pregnant women should also avoid undercooked meat, licorice, aspartame, iron supplements and should generally choose tap water over bottled. The breast milk of vegans is significantly less polluted than omnivores with persistent organic pollutants. These persistent organic pollutants find their way into the diet of pregnant women (through animal products) and may result in babies with smaller brains, lower IQs, and other cognitive impairments. But the consumption of peanuts by pregnant women does not appear to increase their child’s risk of peanut allergies.

Topic summary contributed by Denise.
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Watch videos about women's health

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