Health

What Is Transvaginal Mesh—and What’s the Deal with Those Freaking Commercials?

You may want to close your legs when you read this.

You know a medical topic is worth Googling when celebs start Tweeting about it. And recently, comedian Chelsea Peretti did just that when she couldn't help but notice a deluge of commercials referencing transvaginal mesh.

 

 

 

 

We went to the experts to find out what transvaginal mesh is and why it’s been popping up on our screens so much recently.

What Exactly Is It—and Why Is It Used?
Transvaginal mesh is a net-like implant. It’s used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (a.k.a. when your bladder, uterus, and/or rectum starts to descend from your vagina). This terrible, horrible, no good, very bad affliction can occur in women of all ages, with risk factors including everything from genetics to obesity to vaginal delivery. It’s uncomfortable at best and debilitating at worst, making exercise, sex, and even going to the bathroom difficult or impossible.

“The major reason to use the mesh in the surgery is that the native tissue [in the vagina] may well be stretched out and may not have been the strongest in the first place,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School. “So folks use these meshes to give a better suspension, or holding up, of the tissues.”

RELATED: 11 Ways to Keep Your Vagina Happy and Healthy

Why Are There So Many Commercials About It?

Turns out, there's big controversy over the material. That’s why you might be seeing so many commercials from law firms looking to represent patients who’ve had the device implanted, only to experience complications or injuries.

Prior to transvaginal mesh, physicians used to do a procedure called native tissue repair using absorbable sutures, says Tirsit S. Asfaw, M.D., director of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. However, the procedure had a 30 percent failure rate, so medical professionals looked for othe options and found that mesh was being successfully used to correct incontinence and to repair abdominal hernias. Doctors began to give the procedure a try in the early 2000s.

"The mesh wasn't appropriately tested for long-term outcomes," says Asfaw. Still, the material was marketed to physicians as being incredibly durable with faster recoveries and higher success rates. But at the time, there was no long-term outcome data and no clinical trials. 

Some women who had surgery involving transvaginal mesh started experiencing pain, bleeding, and erosion (meaning the mesh moved through their vaginal wall and, in some cases, into other organs). The FDA issued warnings about it in 2008 and 2011. Then in 2014, it released another notice stating that surgical mesh for transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse should be reclassified from moderate-risk to high-risk. In the last few years, tens of thousands of women have filed lawsuits, with some of the cases having gone to trial and others reaching settlements.

RELATED: 6 Reasons Your Vagina Hurts

Mesh
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What Does This Mean for You?
Very few women in their 20s and 30s will need something like transvaginal mesh, says Minkin, who adds that some women who've had the surgery are totally fine and experience no complications.

Asfaw points out that while most physicians who used to do mesh surgery have stopped (either because products aren’t available anymore or hospitals and operating rooms have decided to stop stocking them), some urologists and urogynecologists still perform transvaginal mesh-augmented repairs.

If you do experience prolapse, ask your doc about other options, which include the insertion of a pessary (a piece of rubber that holds things up) and surgery without the use of mesh, says Minkin. 

You can also start strengthening your vaginal muscles in an effort to prevent this from happening. "Kegels are great," says Minkin. She recommends a set of 10, three times per day as a good starting point. "The more you do, the better," she says. Keeping yourself at a healthy body weight through diet and exercise will also help.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Show Your Vagina More Love Every Day

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19 Photos of Pregnant Women That Will Take Your Breath Away

They really do glow.

You probably know that the baby-making process (we mean everything that happens after the fun part) is not super glamorous. Sometimes, in fact, it’s just freaking gross.

That said, carrying around your little nugget for nine months can be a beautiful experience. To reflect that sentiment, we bring you 19 stunning photos of moms to be. Ladies, pregnancy looks breathtaking on you.
 

 

 

A photo posted by Lola Melani (@lolamelani) on Jan 2, 2015 at 4:05pm PST

 

 

A photo posted by Shannon (@0utstanding) on Mar 1, 2015 at 4:36pm PST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A photo posted by Dewolf Twins (@dewolf_twins) on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:05am PST

 

 

A photo posted by LaTonya (@latonyayvette) on Apr 29, 2014 at 11:15am PDT

 

 

A photo posted by Joy Cho / Oh Joy! (@ohjoy) on Sep 26, 2014 at 10:25am PDT

 

 

 

A photo posted by meggmorehead (@meggmorehead) on Mar 1, 2015 at 4:10pm PST

 

 

A photo posted by Taza (@taza) on Aug 25, 2014 at 11:15am PDT

 

 

 

 

 

 

A photo posted by Tanya Ng (@tanyarng) on Mar 4, 2015 at 11:12am PST

 

More from Women’s Health:
6 What-the-Eff Products Marketed Toward Pregnant Women
The Right Time to Have a Baby
The Truth About Pregnancy and Your Emotions

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What Your Home State Says About Your Health, Happiness, and Sex Life

A cross-country guide

The state you live in affects your life in a big way, from how much you have to winter weather-proof your skin to whether you use a car or public transportation to get around. Oh, and then there are all those state rankings that come out all the time, proclaiming which states are the most obese, the fittest, the happiest, etc.

We got curious about how these different findings all fit together—so we made a map with a superlative for each state. Here’s a very, very superficial description of the people in each state, based on a compilation of various surveys, polls, and rankings.

RELATED: The State Where People Have the Longest Sex Sessions

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7 Juicy Secrets You Say You’ll Keep But…

Your lips are sealed. Kind of.

You mean it when you say it. You do: You won’t tell anyone. You swear. The problem is that once you learn a secret, it becomes your secret, which means you have to tell at least one person. That’s secret rules. No one should be expected to keep a secret entirely to herself, right? That’s basically a recipe for spontaneous combustion. Here are seven secrets you say you’ll keep—before inevitably asking someone else to make the same unrealistic promise.

1. Two Friends of Yours Are Quietly Hooking Up
Will they turn into a couple, or won’t they? What’s going to happen if this goes south? Are they the new Monica and Chandler? There are just too many pressing questions around this matter for you to keep it all to yourself.


 

2. Your Sister-in-Law Is Pregnant
You know, you know, she and your bro are not ready to tell anyone yet, but you’re going to be an auntie! OMG! They’ll forgive you when they see those miniature Converses you already picked out.


 

3. Your Friend Is “Sowing Her Wild Oats”…All Over Tinder
That story about waking up on a pile of beach towels is too good not to be shared. And come on, it doesn’t count if the person you tell doesn’t know her.

4. Your Cousin Went to Jail
She had the right to remain silent. Anything she said could and would be repeated to your boyfriend after you made him pinky swear not to tell anyone.


 

5. Your Coworker Is Quitting
Of course, you respect her decision to reveal this information when it’s ideal professionally, but you also need something to talk about besides the fact that the copier is on the fritz again.

6. You and Your Partner Had a Hilarious Bedroom Snafu
The only upside of having an awkward sex mishap is laughing about it over wine with your girls. It's not your problem that all he talks about with his friends are boobs, burritos, and basketball games.


 

7. Your (Older) Sister Peed Her Pants Laughing—Literally
Deep down, she finds the story funny, too. So if she can't discuss it, you'll just have to do it for her. 

All gifs courtesy of giphy.com

More from Women's Health:
10 Secrets You Should Probably Keep from Your Partner
What 8 Women Learned from Breaking Up With Their BFFs
11 Secrets Men Keep from Their Girlfriends

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How to Get Silky Smooth Armpits

Tank top season is just around the corner.

Underarm hair is the pits. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it—like when you’re doing an overhead press at the gym and lose form at the sight of stubble or when you casually throw on a T-shirt and realize you have to keep your elbows locked at a 90-degree angle at all times. Here’s how to fix your most common underarm woes so you can have the smoothest pits ever.

Pit Problem: Perma-Shadow 
Have you ever checked out your armpit skin right after shaving and noticed that it was still darker than the rest of your body? While there are sometimes hormonal or bacterial reasons for this to happen, the appearance of “perma-shadow” is usually caused by coarse stubble just beneath the surface of the skin being visible, says Patricia Diiorgi, a board-certified electrologist in New Jersey.

veet gel cream

The fix: “In some cases, depilatories [hair removal lotion] can make the shadow less noticeable in the long term, simply because the lotion tends to absorb into the hair follicles when applied,” says Diiorgi. “As the hair melts away, it’s doing so at a slightly deeper level than a surface hair remover, like shaving.” Just make sure to test a small patch on your leg before using a depilatory on thin, sensitive armpit skin; some of the chemicals used in this type of product can cause irritation. We like Veet Hair Remover Fast Acting Gel Cream ($11, drugstore.com) because it’s formulated for sensitive skin.

Pit Problem: Persistent Ingrown Hairs
“When shaved hair begins to grow back, it often curls back under the skin instead of straight out of the hair follicle, causing inflammation in the form of red bumps that look like pimples,” says Diiorgi.

 

yes to coconut scrub

The fix: Diiorgi suggests exfoliating several times a week to remove excess keratin buildup around the hair follicles to encourage hair to grow out and not get trapped under your skin. Pick a gentle scrub like Yes to Coconut Polishing Body Scrub ($8, target.com). When you shave, do so in the direction of the hair, not against the grain, she says. Afterward, Diiorgi suggests applying witch hazel or aloe vera to soothe the skin.

Pit Problem: Hair That Grows Back at the Speed of Light
By the end of the day, your freshly shaved underarms are sprouting hair once again. (WTF armpits?! Didn’t you just shave them last night?)

 

The fix: For hair that grows in less time than it takes you to pick out a tank top, try a mild hair inhibitor. We like Whish Deodorant Swipes ($22 for a 30-pack, whisbody.com), which contain natural bacterial enzymes to combat odor and are packed with protective antioxidants like chaparral extract, a natural ingredient that slows hair growth and leaves skin softer between shaves.

Pit problem: Nothing You Do Works
You’ve shaved up, you’ve shaved down, and you’ve given your pits space between shaves, but this relationship just doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out.

The fix: There are semi-permanent to permanent options that can seriously lessen your armpit animosity. “Electrolysis and laser are both good ways to remove underarm hair,” says Diiorgi. “The FDA labeling indicates that electrolysis provides permanent hair removal, while laser offers permanent hair reduction.” So which one is right for you (and best for your financial situation)?

Since lasers target the pigment of the hair, it’s most effective on dark hair. Electrolysis, meanwhile, destroys the growth center of the hair follicle by releasing electric currents through a sterile needle into the hair follicle. It works on all hair colors and skin types, says Diiorgi. Laser hair removal costs more (approximately $200 per session) but requires less frequent treatments, while electrolysis costs less (about $70 per session) but requires more frequent treatment.

More from Women's Health:
7 Things You Didn't Know About Laser Hair Removal
5 Ways to Deal With Random Facial Hair
The Best Hair-Removal Method for Your Sex Life

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Men Now Have a Legit Excuse for Why They ALWAYS Forget Your Anniversary

You might want to let it slide after all...

We all know the husband who forgets his wedding anniversary is a bad cliché, but it may be true that guys just have a harder time remembering things. A new study published in JAMA Neurology found that memory generally starts declining for both sexes after age 30—and then plummets after age 40 for men.

RELATED: 7 Foods That Boost Your Memory

For the study, researchers looked at 1,246 men and women between the ages of 30 and 95. Study subjects were all cognitively healthy when selected and went through PET scans, MRI scans, and some memory testing protocols—all in the name of measuring the size of their brain's hippocampus, levels of peptides typically associated with Alzheimer's, and levels of learning and memory performance.

Over time, everyone's hippocampal volume progressively worsened, but it shrunk the most in men over the age of 60. And overall age-related memory decline was most dramatic in men, even before any kind of abnormal PET scan showed up.

RELATED: 3 Things That Are Hurting Your Memory…Right Now

Such differences between the sexes could be happening for a number of reasons, from simple developmental causes to hormone defenses (thanks, estrogen!) to lifestyle-related differences. Still, researchers have yet to dig deeper to discover the true reason behind the cognitive gap.

You might be tempted to scan your spouse's noggin to find out just what exactly is (and isn't) going on in there, but since you can't just submit him for research, try to realize that a memory lag may not be his fault. So don't get mad if (when?) he forgets the date you two tied the knot. Just leave him a little note to serve as a friendly reminder, and hope he remembers the gift.

RELATED: The Secret to a Long and Happy Marriage

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The Best Hair-Removal Method for Your Sex Life

You (and your partner) will thank us.

Bikini season is still a few months away, but you have sex year-round (at least we hope so!). What’s the best way to groom your hair down there? We’ll stop beating around the bush: Here's what you should keep in mind when it comes to pubic hair removal—straight from the specialists.

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Waxing

The result: Depending upon the person, waxing can last five to six weeks, making this a pretty great pick for your sex life. Prices vary from salon to salon (and also by how much hair you get taken off), but you should expect to pay upwards of $50 per session.

How long you have to wait to have sex: You’ll want to wait a good 24 hours before any kind of contact. The same goes for sun exposure or wearing a tiny bikini. If you have sex before then, you’re risking outside bacteria getting in. Friction and sweat can also irritate the skin.

The prep: Hair needs to be about ¼-inch long, and longer if possible, says Holly Green, esthetician and owner of Norabloom Botanicals & Beauty Lounge in Ithaca, New York. To prevent ingrown hairs, you should exfoliate several days beforehand with a loofah or scrub to promote cellular turnover and fend off dry skin. Try to wear cotton underwear to the appointment because that will feel more comfortable than anything too lacy, says Green. And don't use any oils or lotions the day of waxing.

The experience: Ask what kind of wax the spa uses—there are soft and hard kinds. Green prefers hard wax because it's gentler on skin, less messy, and great if you’re sensitive. Hard wax lifts off the skin as it dries like plastic, so there's no need for fabric strips. A skilled professional should be able to do a wax in 15 minutes, and it shouldn't be that painful. If you're a waxing virgin, try cool compresses or natural aloe to calm down angry skin. You might get some bumpy "wax rash" from the experience, but that's totally normal and should subside in a few hours (or within 24 hours at most).

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Shaving

The result: Shaving is just a temporary fix. Since you're only cutting the hair at skin-level, it's not going to last very long. You can expect to see hair again in a few days—so if you’re hopping into bed with a guy, keep that in mind.

How long you have to wait to have sex: Just like with waxing, you should give yourself a day off from sex to let your girl parts rest.

The prep: Invest in a good shave cream or gel, and plan to use a brand new razor almost every time you do it, says Green. It's best to shave in a steamy shower to soften the hair follicle first and to get the cleanest, closest shave possible. As with waxing, you'll also want to exfoliate beforehand.

The experience: You know the drill—just be extra careful around such delicate skin. Shaving can be irritating, especially if you’re dry shaving in a hurry. (Just Google folliculitis.) In fact, waxing may actually be gentler in terms of irritating the top layer of skin. Apply organic jojoba oil post-shave, which Green says is especially soothing because it's close to the skin's natural pH.

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Laser Therapy

The result: This one requires a major time commitment. Expect to go in for about six to eight sessions, spaced every six to eight weeks apart. That being said, results are pretty much permanent, although touch-ups may be needed once or twice a year. One session will set you back $99 to $199.

How long you have to wait to have sex: Again, you should avoid sweating in the area for at least 24 hours to avoid any irritation, says Adriana Martino, laser medical esthetician and one of the owners of SKINNEY Medspa in New York City. That means you'll need to take a day off from sexy time (and from the gym).

The prep: Before your first laser hair removal treatment, you have to completely shave your stuff. "Make sure you haven't had recent sun exposure in the area you are treating at least two to three weeks prior to treatment, and come in cleanly shaven," says Martino. If you're sensitive, give yourself some time, and shave two days before your appointment. The ideal candidate is anyone with light skin and dark hair, but most places treat all skin types and tailor the experience to your needs.

The experience: There is hardly any downtime after lasering, which may feel like a rubber band snapping against your skin. At SKINNEY MedSpa, the lasers have a chilled tip that feels similar to a hot stone massage. If you're sensitive, wear loose clothing to your appointments. Follow up with a hydrocortisone cream or aloe cream to alleviate any post-procedure irritation.

More from Women's Health:
16 Very Real Thoughts Every Woman Has During Her First Bikini Wax
5 Ways to Deal With Random Facial Hair
Rimming, Pegging, and Flogging: Are These Next-Level Sex Moves Right for You?

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Photographic Proof That You Never Have to Retire Your Bikini

Timelines can suck it.

Oh, the timeline. It’s something women know all too well. And now, Daily Mail has created yet another timeline for women to measure themselves against. The headline says it all: “The ages that define the life of every woman: She has her first kiss at 15, finds ‘the one’ at 27, earns most at 39—and gives up bikinis at 48.”

While some of these milestones appear to be based off of surveys and expert insight, most are just ludicrous.  

For example, the timeline suggests that women have their first orgasm at 18, their lowest sexual confidence at 25, find their perfect hairstyle at 32, should have a baby at 34, and wear a bikini for the last summer ever at 47—and consider plastic surgery at 52. What? Since when did plastic surgery become an important milestone in every woman’s life?

Apart from seeming completely arbitrary, these numbers do more to hurt women than anything else. Constantly comparing where we are in life to a timeline of where we “should” be sets us up for feeling like a failure, even when we are anything but. Plus, it completely ignores the fact that each woman is an individual, and just because your life’s milestones happen at a different time or in a different order than someone else’s, it doesn’t mean you’re “behind.”

And as for giving up bikinis after age 47? Nuh-uh. As long as women feel comfortable in their own skin (and they have every right to, no matter their age), there’s no reason to retire the bikinis! Wear you want, whether that’s a bikini, tankini, one-piece, whatever. Plus, women don’t suddenly become less sexy when they hit a certain age; it doesn’t matter if that’s 48, 58, or 98.

For proof that bikini bodies know no age, check out these gorgeous women! So what if they are older than 47? They look great and, most importantly, confident and happy!

Elle Macpherson has graced five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers. At 50 years old, she looks like she’s ready for her sixth:

 

Funny gal Kathy Griffin is 54, and her bikini body is absolutely fabulous:

 

A photo posted by Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) on Dec 24, 2014 at 3:54pm PST

 

You are never too old to be ripped. Patricia Ward Amstutz, pictured here two years ago at the age of 53, is an amateur bodybuilder who doesn’t just look good in a bikini—she could probably beat up most guys:

 

Here's Jada Pinkett Smith's mom, at the age of 61, looking absolutely smoking in her two piece:

 
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And no one would think twice about Madonna, who's still in phenomenal shape at 56, rocking a bikini:

Daniel Smith / Getty Images

So wear whatever makes you feel best—no matter what your age!

More from Women’s Health:
How Getting and Staying Fit Changes in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
The Fastest Beach Body Workout
7 Swimsuits That Make You Look Thinner (No Diet Necessary)

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Saying This Simple Phrase to Your Partner Works Relationship Magic

One woman started using it with her husband—and was thrilled with the results.

I used to work for a startup that was big on using certain phrases to promote workplace harmony. I thought it was more than a little cheeseball at first—until I realized one in particular worked really well on my husband, Chris.

I actually discovered it by accident. Chris was ticked off and frazzled by his job, and after I listened to his venting, one of my work phrases just slipped out on autopilot: "How can I help?" He immediately relaxed, apologized for his tirade, and vowed not to let work get to him so much. Holy crap, it worked!
 

I whip it out when Chris is stressed and upset and even when he's annoyed at me. I'm such a big fan of "how can I help?" that I've told my friends about it, and now they use it on the regular. And it works every. Freaking. Time. Their partners usually take a beat, chill out, and tell us what we can do to help make the situation better.

RELATED: I'm Married, and I Still Don't Believe in Happily Ever After

It almost feels like I'm cheating the system—I skip all the venting, bypass the part where I will definitely might say something that'll upset Chris even more, and get to where I can actually take action to help, all in a matter of seconds.

What is it about this phrase that's so amazing?

It has pretty much everything you need to show your partner you care, which is crucial when they're upset, says New York-based relationship expert Jane Greer, Ph.D., author of What About Me? She says "how can I help?" conveys five important things: You're tuned in to your partner, aware of what they're going through, considering their feelings and needs, empathetic to their situation, and looking to help out on a supportive, concrete level.
 

Even better, Greer points out that the phrase gives women an exact roadmap on what to do next. You'll usually get an answer as simple as "just listen" (psh—already done) but if your S.O. needs something more in-depth, now is his chance to speak up. If he doesn't...well, you asked.

RELATED: What 6 Men Say They Love Most About Being Married

But my favorite part is that it keeps you from saying something that can make the situation worse. "A lot of times, we will look to help by offering advice, which typically is the last thing someone wants to hear or will find helpful," says Greer. Err, this is where I used to get in trouble.
 

So when Chris, who is a chef, would vent to me about how he was ticked that his swanky boning knife broke, I'd suggest just gluing it back together. (Wrong answer, apparently.) Even though my little Oprah moments clearly used to agitate him, I'd have them anyway because I didn't know how else to help.

Now, I just drop a little "how can I help?" into the conversation, and we're good to go. The answer is usually "nothing," but hey—he still appreciates that I tried.

RELATED: I Spent a Week Giving My Husband a Lot of Compliments—Here's What Happened

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Korin Miller is a writer, SEO nerd, wife, and mom to a little two-year-old dude named Miles. Korin has worked for The Washington Post, New York Daily News, and Cosmopolitan, where she learned more than anyone ever should about sex. She has an unhealthy addiction to gifs.

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What to Eat to Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer

The disease is on the rise—but these foods may help you decrease your odds of getting it.

Research has long shown that a plant-based diet has cancer-fighting powers. Now, a new study offers even more proof that giving up animal products can lower your risk of one specific type of cancer that happens to be showing up more in younger people: colorectal cancer.

The team behind the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, sought to better understand how a vegetarian diet affects colorectal cancer incidence. At the start of the study, researchers looked at the self-reported eating habits of approximately 77,000 adults, then checked how many participants developed colorectal cancer seven years later. They found that subjects who ate a vegetarian diet had a 20 percent lower overall incidence of colorectal cancer (when compared to meat eaters), while pescovegetarians (fish-eating vegetarians) had a 43 percent lower risk.

With colorectal cancer the third most common type of cancer in men and women today, according to the American Cancer Society, this is as good a reason as any to tweak your diet so you consume more foods found in the produce and cereal aisles. The study only showed an association and didn’t point out specific foods that can make a difference, so we went to the experts on the front lines of fighting this cancer. Here’s their take on what to eat to cut your risk.

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Fatty Fish
Order up those salmon rolls: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and tuna lower inflammation in the gut, which is linked to tumor formation, says Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., a New York City oncologist, clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and author of The Gene Therapy Plan.

Oat or Bran Cereal
Both are super high in dietary fiber, and fiber helps move food through your digestive tract, says Jennifer Fitzgibbon, R.D., an oncology dietician at Stony Brook University Cancer Center in New York. Why’s that important? The longer some of the toxins you might ingest along with your food hang around your GI system, the higher the likelihood that they cause DNA damage, possibly resulting in cancer, says Gaynor.

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Olive Oil
Besides all of its other awesome health qualities, “olive oil contains an omega-2 fatty acid that’s associated with a lower risk of colon cancer because it reduces inflammation,” says Gaynor.

Beans
Black, kidney, pinto—so many types of beans are high in folate, a B vitamin that helps repair abnormal DNA in the GI tract, says Fitzgibbon. They also have fiber, too.

Fruits and Vegetables
You knew these had to make this list, and here’s why. First, the fiber these have helps keep your digestive system moving. But second, foods found in the produce aisle contain a rich assortment of micronutrients that have been linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer, says Gaynor. “Consuming six to eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables can help ensure that you get all of these micronutrients,” he says.

Turmeric
This spice that’s a staple in Indian cooking contains a compound called curcumin, which can protect the GI tract and prevent or slow colorectal cancer growth, says Fitzgibbon.

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Cooked Tomatoes
Here’s a reason to consume more pasta or pizza. Tomatoes have lots of lycopene, which can decrease colon cancer rates, and cooked tomatoes, such as the kind found in tomato sauce, have even more of it, says Gaynor.

And you should steer clear of:

Processed Meat
Red meat itself is linked to a higher risk of many cancers. But processed meats usually contain sodium nitrate, a type of preservative that has been correlated to colorectal cancer, says Fitzgibbon. “Avoid nitrates as much as you can,” she suggests.

Refined Sugar
Sucrose, the sugar found in the white sweet stuff, forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin, which affects levels of a chemical made by the liver that is associated with colorectal cancer, says Gaynor. “Sweeten food with honey or stevia instead,” he says.

Fore more information on foods that are good for your colon and habits that can increase your risk for colon cancer, read our feature on page 140 in the April issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.

More from Women’s Health:
4 Women Share What It’s Like to Have Colon Cancer
What You Need to Know About the Number One Cancer Killer of Women
These Are the Odds You’ll Get Cancer During Your Lifetime

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