In 500 BCE, the Persian empress Atossa had a lump in her breast excised by her slave, Democedes. This is the first recorded case of mastitis, a common sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
Women’s health focuses on the health needs specific to women. Traditionally, women were excluded from research. As such, women’s health is specifically important as we understand the different health needs between men and women. Diet and supplements can be helpful for improving and maintaining women’s health.
Women’s health encompasses the health concerns that women experience, which include conditions such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menopause, infertility, and dysmenorrhea. Most research is conducted on cisgender women, but (depending upon the conditions/biological structures investigated) it can also pertain to transgender and nonbinary people.
Although many types of diets have been studied, eating a nutrient-dense and balanced diet is essential for supporting women’s health. Women tend to need more food that contain calcium, iron, and folic-acid (especially at different life stages such as pregnancy and breastfeeding) than men. A lack of these nutrients in the diet can lead to various conditions ranging from pregnancy complications to anemia.
Women often do not consume enough folic-acid, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and iron in their diet; therefore, supplements containing these nutrients are of great interest for women's health.
Additionally, supplements such as ginger, lavender, magnesium, and St. John’s wort have been studied for reducing discomfort from various women’s health conditions. Finally, certain supplements are of interest for women’s health due to their estrogenic and other hormonal effects. Examples of these include: black cohosh, red clover, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), evening primrose oil, vitex agnus-castus, and soy isoflavones.