PCOS Review Newsletter #134

A free health newsletter for women with PCOS, polycystic ovaries or ovarian cysts.   Issue #134      June 12, 2011


1) Are Your Arteries 10 Years Older than They Should Be?

2) Melatonin: The Overlooked Hormone

3) 7 Foods to Avoid

1) Are Your Arteries 10 Years Older than They Should Be?

It's well known in the medical profession that if you have polycystic ovary syndrome, you also have a substantially increased risk of developing heart disease.

Has your doctor discussed this risk with you? Have you developed a plan to minimize this risk?

Most of us are concerned with starting a family, losing weight, and getting our hair to grow in the right places. It seems that cardiovascular disease -- the #1 killer of women -- is not on the radar screen of most people.

It's hard to visualize a risk like heart disease. You can't see it and it's not obvious. But it exists all the same.

King's College Hospital in the UK recently completed a small study of PCOS women compared to women who did not have the disorder. Based on the lab data they collected, the researchers performed a calculation indicating that women with PCOS had arteries that were the equivalent of 10 years older than the non-PCOS women.

Based on this research, a 30 year old woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome would have the arteries of a 40 year old. By the time you're 50, you would have arteries of a 60 year old.

Another new study from King's College showed that too many women with PCOS, especially those with a weight issue, are eating diets that are way too high in the wrong kinds of fat and too high in refined carbohydrates. And, they are not exercising!

If you are one of these women, you're facing a "Perfect Storm" for a very undesirable outcome in your life: a combination of elevated cardiovascular disease risk because you have PCOS coupled with a dietary pattern and lack of exercise that greatly increases that risk.

The best thing you can do for you and your family is too get serious right away about improving your diet and your lifestyle.

Please don't wait to clean up your act until you have a heart attack, stroke, or have to rely on blood pressure medications with unpleasant side effects.

The time to start reducing your heart disease risk is today!

A great way to get started is to understand and apply a diet that is designed to reduce PCOS symptoms and its accompanying risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A recommended PCOS diet is described in this e-book.

Dessapt-Baradez C et al, Circulating vascular progenitor cells and central arterial stiffness in polycystic ovary syndrome, PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20317. Epub 2011 May 31
Barr S et al, Habitual dietary intake, eating pattern and physical activity of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun 1. [Epub ahead of print]

2) Melatonin: The Overlooked Hormone

PCOS is a disorder characterized by hormone imbalances, such as progesterone that is too low, and estrogen and insulin that is too high. There is much conversation about these hormones.

But what about lesser-known hormones, like melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone and powerful antioxidant produced in your brain while you're asleep and it is completely dark. Melatonin is best known for its role in managing your day-night biorhythm.

Melatonin plays an essential role in reproductive processes. Your ovarian follicular fluid contains high levels of melatonin, and melatonin receptors are present in ovarian cells.

Melatonin has been shown to have direct effects on ovarian function.

In addition, there is a "biological clock" in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research have proposed that supplementation with melatonin helps your SCN to operate properly. The SCN generates and organizes your metabolic rhythms. It is thought that restoring your biological clock will reduce metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.

Some researchers think that PCOS is simply an ovarian manifestation of metabolic syndrome.

So here's the question: are you producing enough melatonin? If you're not producing enough, you are increasing your infertility and PCOS problems.

Excessive light exposure and reduced melatonin secretion appear to be related to irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual cycle symptoms, and disordered ovarian function.

In women with problems such as bipolar disorder or PCOS, there seems to be a greater vulnerability to the influence of light-dark exposure.

Since the invention of electricity, most of us have reduced our exposure to darkness and thus impair the production of melatonin.

We recommend that you go to bed at a reasonably early hour after the sky is dark. Sleep in a totally dark bedroom and don't turn on the lights if you go to the bathroom.

If you can't do this, consider taking a melatonin supplement, which is available online or in various retail stores.

Since melatonin is a hormone, it's advisable to consult with your doctor first.

We don't recommend a dosage level. However, in one study of metabolic syndrome at Medical University of Lodz in Poland, the patients took 5 milligrams per day 2 hours before bedtime.

Adequate melatonin levels are important for dealing with PCOS. Don't overlook this.

Embrace the darkness!

Kozirog M et al, Melatonin treatment improves blood pressure, lipid profile, and parameters of oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome, J Pineal Res, 2010, Dec 8; [Epub ahead of print].

3) 7 Foods to Avoid

Our food supply is not as healthy as it appears. A vital part of your quest to overcome PCOS is to improve the quality of your diet. To a great extent, "you are what you eat".

The Natural Society (naturalsociety.com) reported a survey of farmers that asked them what foods they avoid. Their list is below. If a farmer won't eat them, neither should you.

1) Canned tomatoes. Many cans are lined with a resin containing BPA, which is a hormone disrupter suspected of causing of PCOS. Since tomatoes are acidic, they leach the BPA out of the can and into the contents of your can.

2) Conventional beef. Most beef cattle are fed corn, soy or grain in order to make them gain fat weight. The fat makes the meat taste good and it is more tender. But the saturated fat may contain accumulated pesticides and other chemicals. Go with organic or grass-fed beef if you possibly can. Besides a better quality fat, it has a higher nutritional value.

3) Microwave popcorn. Don't be fooled into thinking microwave popcorn is a healthy, low-fat snack. The popcorn bags contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which may interfere with fertility.

4) Conventional potatoes. Potatoes are among our commercial crops sprayed with pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Go with organic potatoes.

5) Farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is cheaper than wild. However, farmed salmon are fed with food pellets containing questionable substances, including chicken feathers. Farmed salmon tend to have higher levels of pesticides.

6) Conventional milk. Dairy cows are fed growth hormones and given a variety of other pharmaceuticals in order to maximize milk production. These substances carry through into their milk. For this and other reasons discussed in the P C O S diet ebook, we consider consumption of cow's milk to be highly undesirable if you have PCOS.

7. Conventional apples. Our orchards are routinely sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, for the purpose of producing maximum amounts of cosmetically-pleasing fruit. Once again, you are much better off with organic apples. Please remember that there is no "safe" amount of pesticide, just like there is no safe amount of cigarettes you can smoke. Pesticides are not easily flushed out of the body. They are stored in your cells where they do their damage.

"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." -- Michael Jordan

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