Today’s Headlines: The Age You Should Start Getting Mammograms, the Benefits of Tai Chi on Cardiovascular Health, and Which Food Can Increase the Risk of Gestational Diabetes

The debate on when and how frequently you should get mammograms has been put to rest. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that amidst all the confusion, women should get mammograms every two years starting at the age of 50. “The benefits of mammography increase gradually with age. The recommendation says that the ability of routine mammograms to lower the risk of breast cancer begins at age 40, but that they significantly increase around age 50. The balance between these benefits and the risks of false positives and over-diagnosis or overtreatment tips in favor of screening as a woman ages.” The task force went on to stress that women should be informed and know the risks of screenings, such as misdiagnosis — especially before age 50. They emphasized that their recommendation gives women flexibility: if women are not comfortable with the guidelines, they can choose to have mammograms earlier and more frequently instead. (Time)

Tai Chi may help lower your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns. Several studies have examined the overall benefits of Tai Chi especially for older people. “Although the number of tai chi trials is limited, several have shown that tai chi can reduce certain cardiovascular risk factors, including reducing levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and slowing heart rate. There is also quite a bit of evidence to suggest the practice can improve blood pressure.” While more research needs to be done in order to prove the benefits, it seems that doing a less-intense form of exercise like tai chi can help keep your body healthy. (NYT)

If you’re pregnant you might want to swap out the starchy vegetables. A new study from the UK has shown that a high-potato (aka high-starch) diet can be linked to an increased risk of and the potential onset of gestational diabetes. “This is probably because starch in spuds can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels …Swapping a couple of servings a week for other vegetables should counter this, say the authors.” While gestational diabetes disappears after the mother gives birth, it still poses health risks for both the mother and the baby during pregnancy, so it is important to lessen starches in a pregnant woman’s diet and increase consumption of non-starchy foods such as asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, and spaghetti squash. (BBC)