Sharp declines in heart disease in women

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Decreases attributed to improved diets, quitting smoking, and other lifestyle changes

During the course of a 14-year study, female participants’ consumption of red meat dropped by nearly 40 percent, intake of trans fats dropped by more than 30 percent, and use of high-fat dairy products decreased by more than 40 percent. These changes were complemented by increases in consumption of cereal fiber, folic acid, and fish. Simultaneously, the women’s smoking rate declined by 41 percent and the proportion of postmenopausal women using hormone therapy increased almost two-fold. Researchers found that these changes led to a 31 percent decline in coronary heart disease in the group of nearly 86,000. A thorough analysis of the group’s diet, lifestyle, and medical history indicated that most of this improvement is due to improving diets, quitting smoking, and using postmenopausal hormones. However, these gains achieved through healthy behaviors were somewhat offset by gains in weight: the number of overweight participants increased by 38 percent.