Breastfeeding prevents metabolic syndrome

June 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEART AND STROKE

Metabolic syndrome is condition characterized by the presence of multiple risk factors in 1 patient, making that patient highly predisposed to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Metabolic risk factors according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute are: a large waistline, indicating abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension, and high fasting blood sugar level. A patient is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least 3 of these risk factors.

In a recent report, researchers at Kaiser Permanente stated that one way of lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome for women is breastfeeding.

Previous studies have shown that women with gestational diabetes have a much higher likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. The protective effects of breastfeeding against metabolic syndrome were especially evident in women who suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The researchers looked at 704 women aged between 18 to 30 years at the start of the study and did not have metabolic syndrome. Over the 20-year follow-up, 120 cases of metabolic syndrome occurred after delivery. The researchers reported that breastfeeding among these women decreased metabolic risk syndrome by 39 to 56% in women who did not have gestation diabetes but it went as high as 44 to 86% among those who had gestational diabetes Furthermore, the protection seems to be correlated to the duration of the breastfeeding.

According to study author Dr. Erica Gunderson

The findings indicate that breastfeeding a child may have lasting favorable effects on a woman’s risk factors for later developing diabetes or heart disease.  “

In the study, he benefits of breastfeeding were not associated with weight gain and physical activity and even lifestyle but linked to less abdominal fat and high levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Breast milk is considered to be the best food for babies. Only recently was it observed that the benefits of breastfeeding actually both ways. The child receives the best food nature can provide and the mother lower her risks for a wide range of diseases, from breast cancer to heart disease – and now metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Gunderson explains further:

“The Metabolic Syndrome is a clustering of risk factors related to obesity and metabolism that strongly predicts future diabetes and possibly, coronary heart disease during midlife and early death for women…Because the Metabolic Syndrome affects about 18 to 37 percent of U.S. women between ages 20-59, the childbearing years may be a vulnerable period for its development. Postpartum screening of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease may offer an important opportunity for primary prevention.”

Gestational hypertension and testicular cancer: where’s the connection?

November 24, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

You would think these two conditions – gestational hypertension and testicular cancer – can’t have anything to do with each other. After all, they are completely separated by the gender divide (bar in transgenders, of course).

Well, it seems that there is a connection between these two and it started rather early – in the uterus in fact. According to this Swedish study, “women who experience severe gestational hypertension may give birth to boys at lower risk for testicular cancer.”

Gestational hypertension is also sometimes known as pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia. Medical experts, however, usually make a distinction between these three. All three conditions, however, are characterized by a drastic increase in blood pressure during the second half of pregnancy. They affect about 2 to 8% of all pregnancies.

According to MedlinePlus, testicular cancer mainly affects young men between the ages of 20 and 39 years old. The cause is unknown but it is associated with abnormal testicular development, such as an undescended testicle at birth.

The researchers collected data from the Swedish Cancer Register and Swedish Medical Birth Register. They looked at the pregnancy data (e.g., hypertension, proteinuria, anemia and glucoseuria) of the mothers of 293 men with germ-cell testicular cancer and 861 men who are testicular cancer-free. Their data analysis showed that there seems to be an inverse association between a mother’s hypertensive condition and the development of testicular cancer in her son.

Baby boys born to mothers with severe gestational hypertension have 71% lower likelihood of developing the cancer later in life compared to those with non-hypertensive mothers. For those who were born to mothers with mild hypertension, the risk for testicular cancer increase by 62%.

The mechanism behind the protective mechanism of maternal hypertension is not clear. However, the researchers speculate that

One possible reason is that estrogens are lower in pregnancies that develop severe gestational hypertension or preeclampsia, and this lack of estrogens may lower the risk of testicular cancer.”

Another possible explanation is that “severe gestational hypertension and preeclampsia increases the level of human chorionic gonadotropin, another pregnancy-related hormone, which may also have a protective effect against testicular cancer.”

The study results seem to show a “silver lining” to the otherwise very dark cloud of gestational hypertension. This condition is one of the leading causes of pregnancy complications that present serious risks to both mother and child. It can often result in preterm delivery, babies with low weights, and other health problems. Worst-case scenarios result in death of mother and/or child.

The study results are published in the November issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Pregnancy and Diabetes Links

April 30, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Pregnant Diabetics

I’ve been doing some research on pregnancy and diabetes. It seems that the American Association of Diabetes no longer discourages women who are diabetic from thinking about becoming pregnant.
Baby and Hands
You should know that there are still higher risks for babies of mothers who have diabetes. But, you can still have a healthy pregnancy and baby if you are fastidious in your care. Close monitoring of your glucose levels, careful diet habits, and excersise, much like mothers without diabetes can give your baby a great chance at healthy development.

I found an interesting online magazine dedicated to women who are diabetic or have the tendency to diabetes and are also pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. It is called Diabetic Mommy. The site is not ran by a professional nor does it offer medical advice for treatments, as stated on the front page.

Still, from what I have seen, this is a wonderful resource for women who need information on pregnancy and diabetes. It offers a wealth of support for any diabetic mommy (or mommy to be!).

More Links

I am still in the process of searching for great sites, but so far this is the only site I have found that is not an offshoot of a site like the American Diabetes Association site, the Mayo Clinic, Web MD, or MSNBC. This is not to say there are not more, perhaps smaller sites or forums. I promise to root out as many as possible!

For more information, here are a few links to the larger medical sites.

American Diabetes Association

The Mayo Clinic

March of Dimes

Coming Up:

Coming soon I want to talk more about depression, diabetes, and pregnancy. These conditions all go hand in hand, especially with hormones at their peak right now. I plan to share my own experiences with these issues. It is going to be an interesting ride for the next 8 months, hopefully you all have your seat belts on.

The main focus of pregnancy posts will always be on diabetes. When I take the glucose tests in the future, I will be taking my camera along with me. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take a video recorder and you can watch my face as I chug that nasty brew!

Greetings From Your New Battling Diabetes Blogger

January 14, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Diabetes affects many people all over the world. Chances are, if you have not found this information for yourself, that you know someone Battling Diabetes.

My own personal experience with diabetes began when I was seven years old. My mother was thirty-two and had just been informed that she would need to take insulin shots to control her sugar levels. I remember watching her uncap her needles and asking her why she needed to take a shot. It was fascinating to a child that age to watch someone give themselves an injection.

It also put me on the road to learning as much as possible about health, first aid, and diet control. I have never been afraid of needles or injections, but needing to rely on medication to control any aspect of my health was and still is, terrifying. Too many diabetics or children of diabetics, this state of mind is the norm. We want to find a cure or avoid succumbing to the ‘sugar monster’ at all costs.

My Near Brush With Diabetes

To this day, I have only had one near brush with the diabetes diagnosis. During my last pregnancy a test revealed I had Gestational Diabetes. Several tests and many blood draws later, it turned out the test was wrong. Still, it changed my life. Before this mistaken diagnosis, I already ate very little candy, watched my sugar intake in other foods, and tried to stay as healthy as possible. Afterwards, my husband and I instated a radical change in our outlook on diet. We probably went overboard, in fact, I know we did. I purchased a glucose monitor and checked my sugar levels every few hours. We cleaned out our pantry and gave anything suspect away. Our refrigerator was filled with low/no sugar food, fresh vegetables, and anything we knew was ‘safe’. Shopping took hours, as I insisted on reading every label of every item.

This was a hard lifestyle to keep. Obsessing over every purchase and every bite of food made me feel guilty. What had I done wrong? How did I end up here? The stress was overwhelming. We finally re-assessed what we were doing and decided that moderation was the key. Neither of us had made mistakes, we had just turned one diagnosis into a monster of gigantic proportions.

So, you may be asking yourself, “What is the problem. She was doing just what she should.” Yes, I was. But, I had become militant and irrational. That, dear reader, is the number one way to find yourself on the road to failure. Acceptance and a moderate approach to change will set your feet on the path to success. An open mind with a willingness to change, but still understand that you are human and will have times where you do not stick to a perfect lifestyle. That is the key to Battling The Monster.

Join Me In This Battle

Currently, I care for my mother who has become disabled due to her diabetes. Her health began to fail after years of neglecting her body and denying the diabetes diagnosis. Heart disease, eye disease, and neuropathy have changed her from a vibrant nurse into a nearly invalid. I want to share my knowledge, offer insight for other caregivers, and inform you of innovations on the medical front against diabetes. I sincerely hope that you will join me in this battle against diabetes and that I can help you accept your diabetes so you can avoid the fate of my mother.

Julie E. Fletcher

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.