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Crowded Households Raise Women's Heart Risk
Date:12/11/2008

Stress of work and taking care of family to blame, Japanese study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Too much togetherness can raise women's heart risks, a new Japanese study finds.

Those living in multigenerational households that include children and grandparents were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with serious heart disease than those living with just a spouse, a group led by researchers at Osaka University reported in the Dec. 11 online issue of Heart.

No similar increase for men in such households was seen in the study, which followed almost 91,000 family members for as long as 14 years.

While none of the participants had serious diseases like cancer, heart ailments or stroke when the study began, the researchers found that when the monitoring period ended in 2004, 671 had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease and 339 had died of coronary heart disease.

Multigenerational living did not increase harmful habits such as smoking and heavy drinking, the researchers said. For example, only 2.7 percent of the women living with a spouse, child and parent smoked, compared to 6.3 percent of those living only with a spouse.

Instead, it appears to be the stress created because Japanese women are required not only to fulfill their duties as housekeepers but also go out to work, the researchers said.

"More Japanese middle-aged women are employed full time than ever before," they wrote. "Yet the burden of domestic labor [including child care and care of aging relatives] continues to fall primarily on women, even as their workforce participation has increased."

It's a familiar pattern in America, said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "I talk about this all the time," she added. "Women are becoming more educated and are more and more in the work force, yet culturally they still are t
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