PCOS Review Newsletter #109
A free health newsletter for women with polycystic ovary syndrome or polycystic ovaries. Issue #109 June 27, 2010
1) Got Milk? Get Acne!
Do you drink cow's milk and consume lots of dairy products? Do you also have problems with acne, hirsutism or hair loss?
According to research, there may be a link between components of cow's milk and acne, as well as other symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
The recommended diet by authors of The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility ebook excludes milk and dairy products. The authors described numerous reasons for not drinking milk.
One of those reasons is a protein called "insulin growth factor-1" or IGF-1. Since the ebook was written, additional evidence has come to our attention to implicate IGF-1.
The IGF-1 problem is a bit complicated, but let's try to connect the dots anyway.
IGF-1 is a "growth factor" that regulates cell growth and development. There is lots of IGF-1 in cow's milk because cow's milk is intended to make baby cows grow fast into mature cows.
But you are not a baby cow. You are an adult human being. So what do you think all this IGF-1 is going to do inside your body? No one knows for sure, but the evidence so far is troubling.
1) IGF-1 stimulates cell division and retards cell death. Therefore, it is a supporter of cancer growth.
2) IGF-1 in milk appears to increase your insulin levels and possibly increases IGF-1 production inside your body. Excessively high insulin levels are a huge problem for women with PCOS, resulting in a condition called "insulin resistance." Insulin resistance in turn is a driving force behind infertility, weight gain, and all the other symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
3) IGF-1 stimulates an enzyme called 5alpha-reductase. 5alpha-reductase in turn stimulates the production of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is thought to be the #1 cause of acne, hirsutism, and hair loss.
4) IGF-1 stimulates production of male hormones by your ovaries and adrenal glands. This is exactly what you don't want to happen. Your male hormone levels are already too high.
5) Increased IGF-1 levels during pregnancy may unfavorably affect the "fetal programming" of the baby that is developing in your uterus. There may be future health consequences for your child.
Enough about IGF-1.
Milk has another problematic compound called 5alpha-P. 5alpha-P is converted into DHT, which in turn worsens acne, hirsutism and hair loss.
5alpha-P also appears to make you more sensitive to estrogen. Many women who have PCOS also have a condition called "estrogen dominance", where they have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone. So, if you have too much "unopposed" estrogen and if 5alpa-P makes you more sensitive to estrogen, you open yourself up to increased risk of estrogen-related disorders such as endometriosis, endometrial cancer, and breast cancer.
Folks, this is only the tip of the iceberg regarding milk. Please review chapter 5.2 "The Problem with Milk" in the diet ebook for more information.
Milk and dairy products are a mixed bag. Dairy has some good things and some bad things. If you consume a lot of dairy products, we suggest you think about cutting back. If you're worried about getting enough calcium, simply take a high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.
Melnik B et al, Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris, Exp Dermatol. 2009 Oct;18(10):833-41
Danby FW, Acne, dairy and cancer: The 5alpha-P link, Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jan;1(1):12-6
Melnik B, Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies, J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2009 Apr;7(4):364-70
Melnik B, Milk--the promoter of chronic Western diseases, Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jun;72(6):631-9
2) PCOS Pregnancy Problems - New Cause Revealed
A cause of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications has been identified by the University Magna Graecia in Italy.
The researchers compared 73 pregnant women with PCOS and 73 pregnant women who did not have PCOS. They measured the flow of the artery that supplies blood to the uterus during pregnancy. They discovered that the PCOS group had reduced or abnormal blood flow to the uterus, which substantially increased the risk of pregnancy problems.
What might be a reason for the abnormal blood flow?
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to have a condition called "endothelial dysfunction". Endothelial dysfunction means that the cells in your artery walls are not working properly. This condition is an "early warning" sign of future, more serious cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
What might you do about it?
Eat a healthier diet. Avoid unhealthy fats and eliminate all refined sugars from your diet. (If you don't know what an unhealthy fat is, read the "Fats and Oils" section of The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility ebook.
Of course, regular exercise is highly advisable.
There are also certain nutritional supplements that may help. For example, a report from the University of Indiana School of Medicine indicates that L-carnitine can reduce endothelial dysfunction in some people, especially if they have a weight problem.
Palomba S et al, Uterine blood flow in pregnant patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: relationships with clinical outcomes, BJOG. 2010 Mar 12. [Epub ahead of print]
Shankar SS et al, L-carnitine may attenuate free fatty acid-induced endothelial dysfunction, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:189-97
3) Are You Rushing Through Life?
"Stop rushing through life. Live it instead."
"We must be completely present for what we are doing, without sacrificing or rushing what's in front of us in order to get to 'more important' stuff later. No matter how mundane the activity, treat everything as important and take pleasure in it. At bottom, whatever we are doing right now is what we are engaged in and it deserves our full attention and appreciation."
These thoughtful passages are from "Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less", by Marc Lesser. It made me think about how often I do one thing while thinking about something else.
Last week I went to my exercise studio where I do a rather complex set of routines called Gyrotonic. Considerable concentration is needed to get the most out of this exercise routine.
As soon as I started, my mind jumped to a phone conversation I had with someone a few hours earlier. I become so absorbed in the details of the conversation and what I would do next with this person that I started doing my exercises incorrectly. Finally I got so distracted that I could not think of what exercise to do next.
In other words, by thinking of something else, I lost the benefit of helping my body by doing the correct exercise.
There are also consequences when another person is "not present". A couple of weeks ago I had a phone conversation with someone who obviously was washing the dishes in her sink as we were having our conversation. We were discussing what I thought were some pretty important business issues. But I felt like she was not giving our conversation the 100% of her attention that the topic deserved. Not only was I annoyed but I felt we did not accomplish as much as we could have.
Was this person so terrifically busy that she was compelled to do the dishes while talking with me? Was she signaling to me that our conversation was less important to her than dirty plates in her sink?
You can actually accomplish more and have a higher quality of life if you focus your full attention on the present moment, and focus on the most important task at hand.
I encourage you to do two things:
1) Simply notice where your mind is while engaged in an activity. Bring awareness to your behavior without judging it.
2) If your mind has wandered, bring it back to the present activity by saying something like: "I choose to be fully engaged in this activity right now."
Use your senses to ground yourself in the present moment. What do you feel with your body? What do you hear or see? What can you taste or smell?
You'll know you're getting it when you feel yourself slowing down, relaxing, and breathing more deeply and fully. Then, wait for the moments of joy to come -- the experience of realizing that this very moment is actually the best time of your life, regardless of what you're doing.
Thought for Today: "You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds." -- Earl Nightingale
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