Women's health and women's wellness - they go together.

The Women's Center and the Health Center strive to provide current and useful information to women on campus. Here are some suggestions from Dr. Mary Buchwalder and others to help you improve your health and wellness.

Ten Basic Tenets of Good Health

Ten Basic Tenents of Good Health

1.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings every day.  More and more studies show that this can reduce cancer risk by 30-40% while also reducing risks of heart disease and stroke.

2.  Eat moderate amounts of healthy fats (olive or canola oils, nuts, olives, etc.); minimize saturated fats (animal fats, coconut and palm oils in processed foods).

3.  Work towards or maintain a healthy weight.  If you're overweight, look at the "big picture".  True weight loss (and health) only comes from an on-going commitment to healthy eating and exercise, NOT going on...and off...diets. And a healthy weight is NOT the same as thin.

4.  Exercise most days of the week.  Take the stairs.  Park in the distant parking lot.  Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 days a week.

5.  Don't use tobacco products.

6.  Limit alcohol.  For women, this is an average of no more than one drink daily; two for men.

7.  If you use marijuana or other illegal drugs, QUIT!

8. Don't let stress get the best of you!  Prioritize your time.  Do the things you really enjoy and find worthwhile.  Learn to say "no".  Meditate or pray regularly.  Exercise (see #4).

9.  Make time to do things with people you love.

10.  Choose to be happy.  Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be." 

-Dr.B.

Is there such a thing as a healthy tan?

Advice from Dr. B:

"When warm weather approaches, most of us are anxious to spend time outdoors. I absolutely love the warmth of the sun on my face, and riding my bike. But do you know the risks of sun exposure?

While folks in our society love the look of a tan, sun exposure (as well as indoor tanning) increases the risks of several types of skin cancer. Unfortunately, the most dangerous type, called melanoma, is occurring more and more in people in their teens and twenties. Since 1980, the lifetime chance of melanoma has increased from one in 250 to one in 75 people. But it's not a death sentence, either. Early melanomas are almost 100% curable.

What should you look for?

  • Any mole that itches, bleeds, or changes in size, shape, or  color should be examined and probably removed  by a physician.
  • Moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, uneven color or black, red, or blue pigments, or are larger than a pencil eraser also should be checked by a physician.

Prevention is even better: 

  • stay out of the sun  from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 
  • always wear sunscreen  with SPF of 15 or more, and
  • wear a broad  brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt and long pants to minimize sun exposure.

These precautions will also reduce your risk of other, less-deadly skin cancers like basal cell and squamous cell cancers.

Tanning is responsible for chronic sun damage including wrinkles, leathery skin texture, and mottling or "age spots" (really "sun" spots).  Actually, there's no such thing as a healthy tan; a tan is just a 'precancerous  glow.' So, enjoy the spring  and summer days, just be  sensible, too!"

-Dr.B.

HOW TO DEAL: Ways to keep cool under stress

Write paper, buy dad birthday present, schedule meeting with professor, do laundry, write article. Does it ever seem like life is just an endless to do list? College is a busy time for everyone and while there's never a dull moment this type of chaotic lifestyle can lead to a lot of stress.

Mastering stress management now will help you become successful in the future. What are some of the things that cause stress in your life? Can these things be helped?  Once you have pin-pointed the things that lead to undue stress, you can then work to alleviate them.

Stress is a major factor in our everyday lives. The American Institute of Stress recognizes that, "stress can even help compel us to action. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke."

Depending on how we react to it, stress can either help us or hurt us. You are the only one who can decide how stress affects you. If you are feeling stressed you may want to check out the counseling center. Even if it's nothing major, it could help to talk it through out loud. The counseling center is located in Gosiger Hall.

So take a deep breath and have a stress-free day. Wrote article: check.

Here are a few tips from Professor Vernellia Randall to help diminish the work in an anxiety free way:

• Try studying difficult or boring subjects first, once these are finished you will be motivated to complete the rest.

• Use your time wisely, study between classes, this time really adds up.

• Don't study in an environment where you will be easily distracted.

• Make sure you get enough sleep. Studies have proven that a lack of sleep affects your proficiency during your waking hours.

• Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can view them often.

• Don't overwhelm yourself by thinking about the entire stress work load. Take one task at a time and then move on to the next one.

• Be proactive. If you're stressed you can work it off by engaging in a physical activity. • Think ahead. If you procrastinate or fail to do something will you be satisfied with the outcome?                                                      

-Jamie Guerra

Mind your mind's health

According to a decades-long study, physical exercise really does help keep the mind health, especially in people over 55.

The study, which began in the 1960's and analyzed 18 controlled studies, concluded that exercise most greatly effected "executive control" functions, which include judgment, planning and coordinating actions to achieve a goal.

In addition, reaction time, visual-spatial capacity and specific skill learning can also improve to a lesser degree.

The study showed that physical programs that included strength training were more effective than only aerobic exercise, and 1-3 month long programs showed nearly as much benefit as 4-6 month programs. However, periods of exercise under 30 minutes had little beneficial effect on brain functioning.

Women were found to benefit more from exercise than men, and people in their late 60's improved more than any other age group.

The researchers are planning to begin a study on how exercise-based cognitive improvements are related to brain activation patterns seen on brain scans and EEGs. They say there is evidence that exercise allows the brains of older persons to recover the specialized ability for cognitive tasks after having lost the specialization of youth.

- from www.health.harvard.edu.

HPV vaccine, Guardisil

The new HPV vaccine, Guardisil, protects women who have not been previously exposed to the HPV types included in the vaccine.  There are two HPV types included that account for 70% of cervical cancer, and two types that cause most genital warts.  Ideally the vaccine should be given before one becomes sexually active, like you, because it isn't protective if a woman has been exposed to the included HPV types.  It is possible, even if you plan to wait until you marry to have sex, that your spouse may have had an HPV exposure from external genital contact or intercourse.  So, protecting you still makes sense.

There is another vaccine in final studies that may be protective for women already exposed to these same cancer-causing HPV types.  I'm anxious for that to be approved, as it may be better for women already potentially exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does recommend that girls and women who are between ages 9-26, even if already sexually active, get the 3-shot Guardisil vaccine series.  It is likely to provide some protection.  All women should also continue annual Pap testing.

Dr.B

Hormone Replacement Therapy

I have heard that women who take synthetic hormones may have many side effects including increased risk for heart disease, depression, and more. Do you have any information on Human Identical Hormones? Do women who need hormone replacement due to hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries need testosterone replacement as well? What can you tell me about hormone treatments?

Rosalyn

Hormonal treatments are in a real transition now. It is only in recent years that there has been really good research that is double-blinded, prospective and on-going. The Women's Health Initiative is the study that had the medical profession questioning some of its long-held assumptions about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Now we are finding that HRT with both estrogen and progesterone is not protective against heart disease, and may actually increase risk for some.

That may not be true for those who take only estrogen (only recommended in women who have had a hysterectomy, as estrogen alone can cause precancerous endometrial changes). This part of the study is still in progress.

Human Identical (also called "Natural")  Hormones haven't been prescribed much, not because doctors have anything particular against them; we just don't have much in the research literature that has used them. If there are no standard protocols for using them, how do I know how much, what route (pill, cream, etc.), for what type of results (hot flashes, bone protection, heart protection)? The problem is that those questions haven't been answered.

HRT still is useful for hot flashes, and a woman and her doctor must decide how long to continue the treatment. HRT was our only option to prevent osteoporosis 15 years ago, and that was a disease that caused many problems and loss of independence for senior women. Today we have non-hormonal alternatives.
Women who have had surgical menopause with removal of their ovaries do need some kind of hormone replacement, and, yes, many women do actually need a little testosterone replacement too.

I hope that covers the basics. The medical profession is looking at hormone alternatives, but definitive answers are not yet available.

I think that as far as bone and heart health are concerned, the most important things are long-term lifestyle changes: exercise (cardiovascular for the heart, and weight-bearing for the bones) and a moderate-fat diet with adequate calcium. Older women, particularly petite, thin, white women who smoke or drink at least one alcoholic drink daily (those are the biggest risk factors for osteoporosis), should have their bone density checked to see if they need any further treatment.

-Dr. B