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Women's Health

Health News Roundup: Spring 2021

Get up to date on the latest research about women's health.

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Toasted, Inside and Out

According to a study from the University of Arizona, tanning beds might increase your risk for endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory disease affecting 10 percent of women worldwide. Endometriosis is understudied and not well-understood, says Leslie McFarland, ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the university’s Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson. “But we know tanning beds appear to increase inflammation in the body and that the more times you use tanning beds, the higher the risk for endometriosis,” she says.

Previous research has linked UVA rays and inflammation, and researchers suspect that because tanning beds expose you to very high-intensity UVA rays in a short period of time, the inflammation they cause is extreme. Interestingly, warm, sunny climates don’t seem to pose the same perils, possibly because the UVB rays in real sunlight trigger the body’s production of vitamin D, which is an anti-inflammatory agent.

Five: The number of times “very physically active” people reported having sex in a month, according to a recent survey of 800-plus respondents. People who rated their fitness as “low” only had sex three times a month. All the more reason to get your fit on!

Woman holding a water bottle and wiping her forehead
Photo: Getty Images

Hydration Nation

Losing just 2 percent of you body’s water content can lead to fatigue, lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating. It also can make your workout feel really darn hard — which is understandable, considering that your muscles are about 80 percent water. Proper hydration can reduce oxidative stress and improve recovery, according to research published in Psychological Reports. Drink up!

Does Your Mom or Dad Have a Trick Knee?

Then chances are that you will, too. In a study of twins published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that 69 percent of all ACL injuries appear to be linked to genetics. Yes, the type of shoe you wear and the surface you play a sport on are also contributing factors, but if your folks complain of knee problems, you might want to be proactive and visit an orthopedic physician or physical therapist for tips for preventive training.

Person taking a photo of their food from their smartphone
Photo: Getty Images

Pretty, Healthy Food

People perceive carefully styled “Instagrammable” meals as healthier and tastier than those that are messy and all over the place, according to research published in the Journal of Marketing. “When food is plated in a way that features classical aesthetic principles — order, symmetry and balance — it seems more ‘natural’ to people,” says study author Linda Hagen, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Southern California.

However, “pretty” food is not necessarily healthy, and judging a meal by how it looks can lead to poor food choices and overeating. “Consuming unhealthy foods or larger portions isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you’re aware of how unhealthy [a pretty food really is] and make adjustments elsewhere,” Hagen says.

Cocoa for Your Coconut

According to research published in Scientific Reports, drinking cocoa with enhanced flavanols improved mental agility. The flavanols appeared to boost oxygen levels in the brain, thus improving cognition. Previous research also links flavanols with a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, so boosting your intake of berries, kale and citrus fruits should be a no-brainer.