Entries in Women (107)


Calcium Linked to Reduced Risk of Death in Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While the benefits of taking calcium supplements are frequently debated, a new study shows that they may reduce the risk of death in women.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, analyzed data from over 9,000 patients and determined that calcium intake did not significantly impact the rate of death in men. However, women who used calcium supplements had a noticeably lower risk of death than women who did not.

The benefits of increased calcium intake were seen by women who received 1,000 milligrams per day of the common dietary supplement, regardless of whether the supplement contained vitamin D. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, vitamin D is often included in calcium supplements because of the role it plays in helping the body to absorb calcium.

According to research, 15.2 percent of women take calcium supplements alone, 3.7 percent take vitamin D supplements alone and 29 percent were taking the two in tandem. Comparatively, just 7.3 percent of men take just calcium supplements, 4.4 percent take only vitamin D supplements and 15.4 percent use both.

While researchers say that they do not know the full risks or benefits of the two supplements are not yet known, they continue to recommend that clinicians "assess dietary intake to meet calcium and vitamin D requirements for bone health and to consider supplementation as necessary to meet the requirements."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Depression May Increase Stroke Risk in Middle-Aged Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many people suffer from depression as a complication after suffering a stroke, however, a new study shows that depression may be a risk factor for future strokes.

Researchers studied women born between 1946 and 1961, surveying the participants every three years between 1988 and 2010. Women were asked to self-report their depression, medication use and diagnosis or treatment. They also self-reported any stroke they may have suffered. Additionally, stroke deaths were identified using a national database.

Over 10,000 women participated in the survey, the results of which were published in the journal Stroke.

The data determined that women who were depressed were more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke than those who were not depressed.

The researchers believe that improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of depression could play a role in limiting stroke risk later in life.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Texting Study Shows Women Wear Their Emoticons on Their Sleeves

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON, Texas) -- The folks over at Rice University, having apparently figured out everything else there is to know about everything, have turned their attention to those sometime grating graphic symbols called emoticons that have become an integral part of text messages.

In their must-read study, “A Longitudinal Study of Emoticon Use in Text Messaging from Smartphones,” Rice researchers have concluded that women are twice as likely than men to use the little facial expressions in texts.

The study was a thorough examination of 124,000 texts sent over six months by men and women. Just to make sure the research wasn’t skewed, the participants received free phones but weren't told what the study was about.

What the researchers learned from the cellphone data culled over half-a-year was that all the participants at some point used emoticons in their text messages but that the expressions popped up in just four percent of all the texts sent.

And while as many as 74 emoticons were used over the course of the experiment, the symbols indicating happy, sad and very happy comprised 70 percent of all the emoticons sent.

Besides women using emoticons by a two-to-one margin over men, they were found to be more emotionally expressive in non-verbal communications. However, men use a greater variety of emoticons than women -- whatever that means.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bad News May Cause More Stress for Women than Men

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When reading the morning paper, women may take bad news to heart more than their male counterparts, a new study found.

The Canadian study of 56 people found women who read negative news stories were more reactive to stressful situations later on.

“If you are reading the paper every morning while drinking your cup of coffee and have a stressful day ahead, it is important to learn stress management techniques to help you through the rest of the day,” said author Marie-France Marin, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal and lead author of the study, published Thursday in the journal PLoS One.

Marin and colleagues measured salivary levels of the stress hormone cortisol while study subjects were reading the news, and then again later during stressful tasks, such as a mock job interview or a math quiz.

Women who read negative news stories had higher cortisol levels than those who read neutral stories, according to the study.  They were also more likely to remember the negative details.

The finding did not hold true for men.

Dr. Redford Williams, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said the study findings make sense.

“Women typically are more sensitive to others’ emotions,” he said.  He suggested the stress response has evolved to ensure survival of a woman’s offspring.

But Williams said women -- or men, for that matter -- who worry that the news is affecting their stress levels should ask themselves four simple questions:

  • Is the news important to me?
  • Are my feelings appropriate, and would another person be having these thoughts?
  • Is the situation modifiable and is there anything I can do to improve or change it?
  • Is it worth it to me to get involved in this story?

If the answer is no, Williams recommends letting the negative thought go.  Instead, repeat a positive thought or meditate, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Annual Women in Pain Conference Focuses on Relationships

Coral Von Zumwalt(NEW YORK) -- In many respects, Cynthia Toussaint is unlucky.  She was a ballerina who had a role in the show Fame.  Then she was brought down by a then-nameless chronic pain disorder that left her mute and in a wheelchair for years.

But in one respect, she is lucky.  She is one of the few women she knows whose partner, John Garrett, didn't leave her during years in pain.  He stayed with her during the 13 years doctors told her the pain was in her head, and the 17 more as she gradually found her voice and started lending it to other women with conditions like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and fibromyalgia.

"He said he never doubted me, but he did not understand it," Toussaint said.

She said Garrett has taken care of her and their home since they were 21 or 22 years old.  Now, they're 52.  

"To not leave is amazing," she said.

Garrett said he met Toussaint in 1982 when they were 19-year-olds at the University of California, Irvine and planned to move to Los Angeles to pursue careers in entertainment.  Then Toussaint suffered a ballet injury that went from "bad to worse to catastrophic."

The pain from the injury to her right leg spread through her entire body, which is typical of CRPS, though she did not know it at the time.  CRPS has no known cause, but doctors suspect it is either a damaged nervous system response or an immune system response.  The young couple wouldn't get a diagnosis until 1995.

"She was bedridden, housebound, wheelchair bound," Garrett said.  "Everything was being turned upside down and inside out, and you don't really know what's going on."

And for years, he tried and failed to sleep in bed next to Toussaint at night as she writhed in pain.

"There's no manual, no textbook on how to take on something like this early in your life," he said, noting that most people who care for elderly parents are middle-aged.  "I had fantasies of fleeing, of getting the hell out of here.  I'd get in a Honda Civic and head out on the I-15 and just keep going."

Garrett worked odd hours to bring in money and still be around to take care of her.  His acting career would have to wait.

Toussaint compared caring for women in pain to caring for an Alzheimer's patient: "We don't get better, and we don't die.  It's just the truth."

But Garrett stayed because he loved her, and what he really wanted was to make her feel better.  He made her meals, helped her dress and even helped her go to the bathroom when things were at their worst.

Toussaint's CRPS diagnosis was the real turning point, he said.  And when they founded For Grace, a nonprofit to educate and help women in chronic pain, he became its executive director.

They're about to have their fifth annual Women in Pain conference on Friday, and they have a bill on California Gov. Jerry Brown's desk to ensure effective pain treatment for patients.

There are pitfalls of being a caregiver, but he has stayed with Toussaint for more than three decades.  They'll celebrate their 32nd anniversary on Sept. 15.

"Sometimes, you lose yourself. You lose your identity, giving yourself over to caregiving for somebody," he said, adding that it's important for him to reconnect with his desires and goals when he can.  "If you truly love someone, you'll go through hell and high water to help them in any way you can."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eyebrows 101: 6 Tips to Get the Perfect Brows

Ralf Nau/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Eyebrows are the new focal point for the face. The trend right now in the brow world is “big is beautiful,” so we asked expert Damone Roberts, aka “the Eyebrow King,” for his best brow advice.

Roberts, who has salons in Los Angeles and New York and has plucked and shaped for A-listers like Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and even Robert Downey Jr., said there are common mistakes he sees over and over again.

Read Roberts’ do’s and don’ts below before you reach for the tweezers:

  1. Put down the tweezers.  Overplucking can really minimize the power of the brow. As you age your eyebrows tend to thin out. So be especially careful as you hit the big 4-0! One idea is to avoid tweezing for three to six months and then go get your brows sculpted. Take a picture of what they look like and try to match the look without overplucking.
  2. Be mindful not to tweeze the interior of your eyebrows too much. “Eyebrows that are too far apart — overplucked in the middle — make the bridge of the nose look a little wider and it makes the whole nose look a lot wider,” Roberts says. “That also has the effect of making the eyes look smaller and the face rounder.”
  3. It’s OK if the interior parts of the eyebrows are a little feathery, Roberts says. In the past, people wanted that dramatic line like Bette Davis, but now the more natural gradual in interior is in.
  4. Symmetry is crucial. You want both brows to look alike. Similar arch, similar start and end points and similar thickness are keys to symmetry.
  5. You probably have more hair than you think. Especially if you have lighter coloration for some of your hair. A good gel, plus brow powder can bring the finer, lighter hairs at the end of your brow into prominence.
  6. The shape of your face determines the shape of your brows.  In an interview Roberts did with Essence magazine he explains it like this: “A rounder face should have a higher arch to add length to facial structure. A square-shaped face should have rounder brows to soften facial features. An oval face can carry an eyebrow that is not too defined and not too round but right in between. Lastly, a heart-shaped face should have a straighter brow to lessen the length of the face.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Stressed Men Prefer Heavier Women, Study Suggests

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but stressed men prefer heavier women -- at least according to a new study.

In the study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers at the University of Westminster in London subjected 41 men to a stress-inducing task.  After this task, the researchers asked the men to rate the attractiveness of female bodies ranging from emaciated to obese.

Compared to a control group of 40 men who did not undergo the stress task, the stressed men rated a significantly heavier female body size as the most attractive, and they rated heavier female bodies as more attractive in general.

"Our body size preferences are flexible and can be changed by environment and circumstance," explains Martin Tovee, one of the study's authors.  "We need to understand the factors shaping body preferences."

In this case, it appears that stress alters the classic stereotype that men prefer thin women in general.

Researchers not directly involved with the study said the finding is consistent with what past work has shown regarding the way stress influences our perceptions.

"Stress, both acute and chronic, has profound effect on how we process new information both cognitively and emotionally," explains Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Beth Israel Medical Center.

In fact, earlier research has shown that men also prefer heavier body sizes when resources are unpredictable or unavailable.  Certain evolutionary theories suggest this may be because when times are tough, a thin woman may be ill, have irregular periods, and may be unable to support pregnancy.

"If you live in an environment where food is scarce, being heavier means that you have fat stored up as a buffer and that you must be higher social status to afford the food in the first place," Tovee explains.  "Both of these are attractive qualities in a partner in those circumstances."

The study also found that the stressed men gave higher ratings to a wider range of female figures than did their unstressed counterparts.  This may have implications about how we choose the people to date and marry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Women, Children Not Most Likely to Survive Sinking Ship

Universal History Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A sinking ship doesn’t exactly inspire nobility, a new study from Sweden observes.

Economists at Uppsala University have turned on its head the idea that women and children are attended to first by investigating 18 shipwrecks that occurred between 1852 to 2011.  Two of the most famous examples of sinking ships, Titanic and Lusitania, were also taken into account.

Other than the Titanic, where three times more women than men survived the disaster, the study finds that the captain, his crew and male passengers were generally saved more often than women and children.

In fact, crew members were 18.7 percent more likely to get out alive than everyone else on board.

Surprisingly, more women than men died on British ships where the orders of "women and children first" were given more than on vessels run by other countries.

Lead researcher Mikael Elinder said in a statement that when it's time to abandon a sinking ship, "it appears as if it's every man for himself."

The study involved 15,000 passengers of more than 30 nationalities that included information on the sex of the survivors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


1 in 13 Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Older and more educated women are more likely to drink alcohol during pregnancy, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Friday.

About one in 13 women drink while pregnant, according to the study, and out of those women, one in four reportedly binge drink.

The researchers examined more than 340,000 self-reported surveys that were a part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of data from women between the ages of 18 and 44.

More than 7 percent of pregnant women in the study reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with 51 percent of women who were not pregnant.

Women in the study between the ages of 35 and 44 reported the highest amount of drinking while pregnant, at 14 percent.

U.S. public health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourage women from consuming alcohol while pregnant because of its potential to harm the baby’s physical, emotional and cognitive development.

“Pregnant and nonpregnant women of childbearing age who misuse alcohol might benefit from public health interventions…such as increased alcohol excise taxes and limiting alcohol outlet density,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs of the March of Dimes, said the numbers were “troubling.”

While some past studies have reported that light drinking while pregnant does not harm the baby, Katz said women should stay away from alcohol completely during those nine months.

“We know that alcohol is very seriously damaging,” said Katz. “We don’t know if there is any safe level of drinking, but that’s a determination that will never be made."

“It’s ludicrous to suggest that one should even look for a safe level of alcohol while pregnant,” he continued. “There is a danger that will always be there with alcohol. Unlike some other risks during pregnancy that are unavoidable, this one is. It is fully controllable and it is not such an enormous effort not to drink.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Stressful Jobs Put Strain on Women's Hearts, Study Says

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A new study found that women who rate their jobs as highly demanding and stressful were at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or dying from heart disease.

Heart disease is one of the leading killers of both men and women, and scientists have identified stress as one major risk factor that can damage the heart. But Dr. Michelle Albert, one of the study's authors, said most of the previous research on stress and strain at work has focused on how they affect men's hearts.

"We're all stressed out, but we're talking about strain or stress that's above and beyond the body's ability to handle it," Albert said.

Albert and her colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied more than 22,000 women in the health care field -- nurses, doctors and other professionals who were part of the decade-long Women's Health Study. The researchers asked women about the stressors in their jobs, including the pace, amount of work, demands, required skills and control over decision-making.

In the study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, Albert and her colleagues found that the women who said their jobs were highly demanding and stressful were 38 percent more likely to have a heart problem than women who reported low job strain.

Though only a few previous studies of job stress and heart health have focused on women, researchers have had mixed results on establishing a link. One major trial, the Nurse's Health Study, followed 35,000 female nurses over four years and found no relationship between coronary heart disease and job strain. On the other hand, a recent study of nearly 50,000 women in Finland found that active jobs were linked to an increased risk of stroke.

But Dr. Susan Bennett, co-director of the Women's Heart Health Program at the MedStar Heart Institute in Washington, D.C., said scientists are becoming more assured that job strain has definite impacts on health.

"We know that stress is a killer. It's just very hard to pour it into a beaker and measure how it affects people," Bennett said.

There are many possible ways that chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, even by causing physical harm to cardiovascular system. High levels of stress hormones can lead to heart risk factors such as higher blood pressure, a build-up of plaque inside the arteries and increased insulin resistance.

Stressed people may also be more likely to smoke, drink excessively, or have poor eating and sleeping habits, all of which have been associated with heart problems. Also, some studies have found links between heart and mental health woes, such as depression and anxiety. But Albert noted that only up to 26 percent of the relationship between job strain and cardiovascular disease could be explained by traditional heart risk factors like these.

The study had a few problems that make it difficult to generalize the findings to a larger group of women. First, the study interviewed mostly white women, all of whom worked in the health care industry, so the results don't capture how job stress affects women of all races and ethnicities or in other occupations.

The study also asked women about their job stress only once during the 10 years of the study, making it difficult to judge how their stress might have affected them over time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio