Breastfeeding Cuts Moms' Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Good news mommies. New findings in the upcoming May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology claim mothers who breastfed were 10% percent less likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke than women who had never breastfed. The study, which involved nearly 140,000 postmenopausal women, also showed women who breastfed for at least one month had less diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; from EurekAlert!

The benefits of breastfeeding are innumerable. Previous reports pin breastfeeding to breast cancer prevention, less likelihood of children becoming obese and reduced risk of allergies. Last year, it was reported 77% of new moms are breastfeeding. Not too shabby.

But some breastfeeding news can be icky. A Swiss restaurant was told no, they can’t serve human breast milk. Although, the story about the Chinese cop who breastfed infants in need during the rescue effort following last year’s deadly earthquake is heartwarming.

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Too Much Meat and Dairy Harm Sperm

No, no! Don’t mess with my sperm. A new study in the journal Fertility and Sterility reveals diets low in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and high processed meats and full-fat dairy heighten risk of low-quality sperm. The study involved 61 men visiting a fertility clinic. Of the participants, half had poor sperm quality. Those men also had a higher intake of meat and dairy, but the other half of men had normal sperm counts and tended to eat more fruits and vegetables. Experts cite increased levels of antioxidants, like vitamin C and lycopene, for better sperm; Reuters investigates.

Antioxidants are like Superman and Batman rolled up in one. Take blueberries, they’re packed with healthful nutrients, like flavonoids, which are associated with cancer prevention and plants like broccoli protect against things such as respiratory inflammation and stroke, while antioxidant-devoid foods like hotdogs and bacon may lead to leukemia and raise lung cancer risk.

The bad news for meat keeps piling up. Just last month, a study linked processed meat to increased death risk, as high as 50% and recently red meat was pinned to blindness. Eek!

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Big Guys More at Risk for Abnormal Heart Rhythm

New findings in the European Heart Journal reveal older men who were big in their 20s are more likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation, i.e. abnormal heart rhythm. The study, started in 1970, involved more than 7,000 men, ages 45 to 55, and asked participants to state their weight at 20 years old. Results showed atrial fibrillation increases linearly with body size and weight gain, and the larger men were in their 20s the more weight they gained throughout life. Researchers claim abnormal heart rhythm among men 60 to 70 years old will become more common as our overweight population ages; via EurekAlert!

More reason to be slim, at all ages, especially since a recent showed men with fat guts have lamer sex lives. Not something any guy wants to hear! Now, not only will veggies keep you fit and trim, but vegetable-based diets naturally prevent cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer, both very manly issues.

In related news, previous research suggests type-2 diabetics with irregular heart beat have 77% higher risk of heart attack or stroke and 68% increased risk of heart failure.

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Chubby Belly a Predictor of Heart Failure

I admit, a little “chub” on a girl is super cute, but it’s probably not healthy. Published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, experts believe larger waist circumferences are associated with higher risk of congestive heart failure in both men and women. For the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 36,000 women and over 43,000 men, ages 45-83, who filled out health questionnaires and were followed for seven years. Based on their answers scientists determined women with a normal body mass index (BMI) and a 10 centimeter larger waist measurement had a 15% higher risk of heart failure and men with normal BMI and a 10 centimeter larger waist size had a 30% higher risk; via EurekAlert!

Belly fat gets a lot of bad press. Over the past few months excess abdominal fat has been linked to impaired respiratory function, lame sex life, more headaches and migraines, and increased risk of stroke. And according to Dr. Fuhrman that extra umbilical fat is an excellent indicator that people are overweight, even if they’ve already lost weight.

Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is an important component of heart health. In the November 2003 Healthy Times, Dr. Fuhrman explains why heart problems are preventable and how nutrition helps reverse cardiovascular disease.

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Health-Points: Friday 4.3.09

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