PCOS Review Newsletter #143
A free health newsletter for women with P C O S, polycystic ovaries or ovarian cysts. Issue #143 October 17, 2011
1) What Does P C O S Mean?
Someone recently asked us, "What does PCOS mean"?
P C O S is short for "polycystic ovary syndrome" or "polycystic ovarian syndrome". A "syndrome" is a pattern of symptoms that frequently appear together. It's not a specific disease such as cervical cancer.
We have identified at least 30 different signs and symptoms that may indicate you have P C O S. You may have only a few symptoms, or more than a dozen of them.
You can see a list of symptoms here.
The most common is "polycystic ovaries", which means an excessive number of underdeveloped follicles on your ovaries. However, you can have polycystic ovaries but not have PCOS.
The most distressing aspects of polycystic ovarian syndrome are inability to ovulate and become pregnant, weight gain, hair loss, unwanted facial and body hair growth, and acne.
But PCOS has quite a number of serious consequences that are not always so obvious, including liver disease, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, appetite disorders, depression and anxiety, high blood fats and blood pressure, and impaired lung function.
There are also longer-term consequences of PCOS that you will definitely want to prevent. The most prominent ones are a much increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. A less prominent one is possible brain damage.
Perhaps you're hoping that when you reach menopause, your symptoms will simply go away forever. Your symptoms may change, but the underlying health consequences of PCOS do not suddenly vanish when you reach menopause. Studies have shown that they persist beyond menopause.
So what does PCOS mean?
Your challenge is that PCOS is a systemic, complex disorder that needs to be actively managed by you for the rest of your life. It is not the type of disorder that can be effectively controlled in the long run by short-term measures such as taking birth control pills.
You need to go to a deeper level and develop certain health practices that will help your body to naturally minimize the symptoms and long-term risks of polycystic ovary syndrome.
If you don't get to work on improving your health practices today, you will pay a heavy price later on.
You don't need to let PCOS ruin your life. You can take action to build and protect your health. You can still live the life of your dreams, but you will have to work for it.
A good place to start is by reading The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility e-book, which describes health practices designed specifically to help you get the upper hand.
Wang ET et al, Polycystic ovary syndrome and risk for long-term diabetes and dyslipidemia, Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Jan;117(1):6-13.
Rizzo M et al, Long-term consequences of polycystic ovary syndrome on cardiovascular risk, Fertil Steril. 2009 Apr;91(4 Suppl):1563-7
2) Sweet and Deadly?
Do you have a sweet tooth? Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome are more likely to have problems with carbs and sweets than does the general population.
You probably know that table sugar is not good for you and is loaded with calories. Maybe you have switched to artificial sweeteners, since they have "no calories". A great example of this is diet soft drinks. But is this really a healthy choice?
Contrary to what you may believe, it's highly questionable whether artificial sweeteners have been proven to be safe for human consumption. "Safe" means they cause no harm. Just because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they are safe does not necessarily make them safe.
We'll just mention a couple of the most common sweeteners.
Aspartame (NutraSweet). Aspartame has been controversial for years, primarily because of medical studies showing it causes cancer in rodents. One of the most interesting studies was conducted by a private citizen, Victoria Inness-Brown.
She added NutraSweet to the drinking water of 60 rats for 30 months. The dose was equivalent to 14 cans of diet soda per day for the females and 13 cans for the males. The amount was within the FDA's "acceptable daily intake" limit for humans. 67% of the females develop tumors the size of golf balls or larger whereas 21% of the male rats had tumors. It appears that females may be more sensitive to aspartame than males.
Aspartame Rat with Tumor
Ms. Inness-Brown wrote a book on her experiment, "My Aspartame Experiment: Report from a Private Citizen". Read her book to learn more.
Sucralose (Splenda). Some people have heard about the risks of aspartame and switched over to sucralose. Everyone would agree that sucralose is absolutely safe, right? Plus, it has no calories. What could be better than that?
Unfortunately, the medical research on sucralose is not all good news. When given to rats, sucralose reduced beneficial gut bacteria by 50%. Did you know that you cannot be healthy unless you have a healthy population of friendly bacteria in your GI tract? A lack of beneficial bacteria allows toxic organisms to proliferate in your GI tract. They produce toxins and create other serious long-term problems for you.
NOTE: We have come across some new research suggesting that poor gut health leads to increased belly fat. We will discuss this in a future newsletter. Meanwhile, avoid Splenda.
Sucralose also appears to cause miscarriages in rabbits. Additionally, it may alter behavior. A Swedish study just released in September 2011 showed that sucralose in water altered the behavior of small water creatures. Sucralose altered their swimming height, increased swimming speed, and prolonged their time to reach food and shelter.
This research data suggests that Splenda may affect you in undesirable ways that are not obvious to you.
We recommend that you never consume any artificial sweeteners. Inspect the label of any food product you eat or drink.
If you must have an added sweetener, stevia is your best choice.
For more information, there is an extensive discussion of sweeteners in the polycystic ovary syndrome diet ebook.
Abou-Donia MB et al, Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats, J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29.
Wiklund AK et al, Sucralose - An ecotoxicological challenger?, Chemosphere. 2011 Sep 26. [Epub ahead of print]
3) A Dose of Reality
The other day, a business associate died in the prime of his life. He was riding his dirt bike on his property, had an accident, and died suddenly.
He was a gentle and kind. A loving family man. A man who had an inquiring mind and loved his work. Aside from the loss of a fine human being, is there a lesson here?
Here's a question to consider: If this were your last hour on earth, are you doing what you really want to be doing?
We don't really know which moment will be our last. We just assume our lives will go on and on indefinitely. As a result, we can become complacent and get a little careless about how we spend our time. Or, we become overwhelmed and distracted in the pounding surf of daily events.
If you feel this way, find a quiet space and take a few moments to ask yourself some questions:
1) If this were my last hour on earth, would I be happy with how I've spent my time today, this week, or this year?
2) Would I feel good about the priorities I'm focused on right now at this point in my life?
3) Do I feel complete and at peace with the people who matter most?
Your answers to these questions will be a good "reality check" and give you a new perspective on how you can get back on course with your life -- and become who you want to become.
"Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there." -- Thomas Carlyle
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