9 BIGGEST Health myths for young mom’s uncovered
9 BIGGEST Health myths for young mom’s uncovered
By Cheré Coen
There are numerous myths surrounding young women and health, some with semblances of truth and others that are just not even close. We’ve talked to a few area physicians to get to the bottom of these myths and they have weighed in with their views on some popular health misconceptions.
1. Gaining 10 pounds over the holidays is just inevitable.
“There is some weight gain over the holidays but typically it’s more between two and five pounds,” said Dr. Cathy Champagne, professor and chief of nutritional epidemiology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
And when January rolls around, does everyone scramble to lose the extra holiday pounds? “People will be more physically active after the holidays are over and you are no longer sitting and eating all of the time,” Champagne said. “Some of the weight gain comes off when you return to your everyday routine.”
2. If you want to be skinny stay away from whole milk, butter, and fats.
“The problem with dairy products, whole milk, butter and whole cheese, are they contain a high proportion of saturated fats,” Champagne explained, “which lead to health risks and weight gain.”
Substitutes, however, aren’t much better. Margarine was created as a substitute to saturated fats but contains unhealthy trans fats. “There is some feeling in the scientific community that trans fats are worse than saturated fat,” Champagne said.
So which do you choose? “It’s all related to your weight status and your potential risk to cardio vascular disease,” she said. Champagne advises having a physical with screenings for cholesterol, blood glucose levels and a lipoprotein profile to give an indication of what foods are okay and which should be avoided. Even people with perfect diets may have health risks due to their genetic disposition, she added. “The message is all foods in moderation and there are no bad foods,” she concluded.
3. You’ll never lose the last 10 pounds of your pregnancy, so you better love them.
Yes, you can, but you need to work. “Breastfeeding really helps and can account for 1,500 calories per day,” said Ralph Dauterive, Department Chairman at Ochsner Health Center Baton Rouge and Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baton Rouge General Health Center. “The problem is when the patient gains over 25 pounds with the pregnancy. Then there is more work to do to get rid of the added fat from overeating with the pregnancy. Lifestyle changes after any birth, and eating and exercise commitments must follow.”
4. The birth control pill will make you gain weight.
“Hormonal birth control pills may cause some fluid retention with one to two pounds of weight gain,” Dauterive explained. “They can also increase appetite because of the progestin in the pill.
“But generally, if calorie intake is controlled, the pill will not result in statistically significant weight gain.”
5. Sex drive goes down as women’s age goes up.
“Sex drive is generally not a function of age and menopausal women can have normal sex lives,” Dauterive explained. “Sexual needs are known to change with maturity and relationship changes.”
6. Cancer is unavoidable.
“Basically half of all cancers are preventable,” said Dr. Jay Brooks, an oncologist with Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
Brooks states that a third of all lung cancers in the United States are tobacco-related and that 20 percent of cancer cases in women and 15 percent of cancer cases in men are due to obesity.
“Not smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are ‘two dramatic things you can do’ to avoid the risk of cancer,” Brooks explained.
“Having regular screenings performed also catches the early stages of cancer and can save lives,” he added. “With the dramatic advances in cancer screenings, the deaths from cancer in both genders are falling nationwide.” New cases of cancer in Louisiana women increased slightly and remained steady for men in Louisiana, according to the LSU Health Sciences Center’s School of Public Health report, which Brooks associates with access to screenings, obesity, and tobacco use.
“Screenings that detect cancer include regular pap smears and mammograms in women, colonoscopies and regular physical exams to look for melanomas and the onset of skin cancer,” explained Brooks.
“To avoid skin cancer,” Brooks added, “people should not over-expose themselves to the sun and not use tanning salons, which are unbelievably dangerous. We have incredibly good cancer screening tests.”
7. You won’t get breast cancer if it is not in your family history.
“Seventy-five percent of all breast cancer cases do not have family history,” Brooks explained.
Brooks recommends that all women have a baseline mammogram, a screening that detects breast cancer, between the ages of 35 and 39, then a yearly mammogram every year after age 40.
8. Only older women or those in stressful jobs have heart attacks.
“Heart disease occurs in women due to the same basic risk factors as men,” Dauterive explained. “Elevated lipids, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and family history are additive risk factors for MI’s (myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack). Risk increases with age, but younger women are not protected. Stress without stress relief can increase risk.”
9. If I don’t smoke, then I can’t get cancer.
Louisiana is a smoking state. The rate of lung cancer here is 30 percent higher in white men and 20 percent higher in black men than the national average, according to a recent report released by the Louisiana Tumor Registry. Women were closer to national statistics but lung cancer rates are still high.
“Five percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States are due to second-hand smoke,” Brooks said.
Restaurants and bars that serve more than 50 percent of food are required by Louisiana law to be smoke free.