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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Dawn Handschuh and Linda

Diet may play a significant role in health issues affecting women, including menstruation and menopausepregnancy and breastfeeding, and risk for certain types of cancer.

There have been numerous nutritional studies looking at the benefits of specific foods for women’s health:

Women at high risk for heart disease who eat peanut butter every day may have a lower risk of suffering from a heart attack than women who do not eat peanut butter. Dried apples may reduce LDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women. A plant-based diet may help reduce the likelihood of diabetes in women. Spearmint tea has been found to lower testosterone in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Eating a cup of oatmeal daily, or two handfuls of nuts each week, appears to extend a woman’s life as much as four hours of weekly jogging. Plant-based diets may help prevent genitourinary infections. Cranberries have been shown to suppress the growth of cancer in vitro, including cancers of the breast and ovary.

Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with moderate walking exercise six days a week, was linked to a significant survival advantage among breast cancer patients.

Spices have proven helpful in alleviating symptoms of certain cancers. Turmeric ointment, for example, may help reduce symptoms related to cancers of the vulva, skin, mouth, and ulcerating breast. Ginger has been shown to ease nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness, and it may be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing menstrual cramps.

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. Urinary tract infections from E. coli may be caused by poultry consumption or handling.

Researchers have also found that the presence of bovine leukemia virus DNA in breast tissues was strongly linked with confirmed breast cancer.

Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.

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