Category Archives: Cancer
Breast Cancer in Young Women May Be Up Slightly in Past Several Decades
Advanced breast cancer in women ages 25 to 39 may have increased since 1976, according to a new report in The Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2009 there were about 2.9 advanced cased per 100,000 younger women, up from 1.53 per 100,000 in 1976. The researchers say further study is needed to verify the numbers. In the mean time, they recommend that young women see a doctor if the notice lumps or other early indicators, and not simply assume they are too young to develop breast cancer. Read more on cancer.
Cohabitating Same-sex Couples Report Worse Health than Married Heterosexuals, Possibly Tied to Discrimination
Stress and discrimination may be the reason that cohabitating same-sex couples report generally worse health than do married heterosexuals, according to a new report in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The study looked at how the individuals describe their health, not at their health records. The same-sex male couples were 61 percent more likely to report poor or fair health and same-sex female couple were 46 percent more likely. "Research consistently suggests that 'out' sexual minorities experience heightened levels of stress and higher levels of discrimination, and these experiences may adversely affect the health of this population," said Hui Liu, lead author and an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University. "It may also be that same-sex cohabitation does not provide the same psychosocial, socioeconomic and institutional resources that come with legal marriage, factors that are theorized to be responsible for many of the health benefits of marriage." Read more on LGBT issues.
Poll: 1 in 5 Americans Know a Victim of Gun Violence
One in five Americans—and 4 in 10 black Americans—know a victim of gun violence, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Survey. The poll measured personal experience and concerns about firearms. About 42 percent of Americans are worried about being the victim of gun violence, with racial and ethnic minority groups more likely to be concerned. About 75 percent of Hispanics, 62 percent of black Americans and 30 percent of white Americans say they are worried. Read more on violence.
Excess Weight More Harmful to Minority Children with Asthma
Excess weight has a greater negative impact on Hispanic and African-American children with asthma than it does on Caucasian children with asthma, according to a new report in the Journal of Asthma. The added weight impedes lung function. Hispanic and African-American children also experience higher rates of asthma than do Caucasian children. Deepa Rastogi, MD, MS, senior author and attending physician in the Division of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, said this information can help physicians identify and treat asthma early. “Physicians might want to measure the degree of airway obstruction in Hispanic and African-American children who are both overweight or obese and asthmatic. Early identification of a drop in lung function can assist in better patient management.” Read more on obesity.
Study: 30 Percent of Chemo Drugs Used Off-label
Approximately one-third of chemotherapy drugs are used to combat cancers for which they were not approved, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "The main criticism of off-label prescribing has been the concern that it jeopardizes patient safety because the full risk-benefit ratio is often not completely understood," said Monika Krzyzanowska, MD, MPH, of the University of Toronto. Still, lead researcher Rena Conti, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago, said they cannot determine the effectiveness of the off-label treatments, according to Reuters. "We don't know what the outcomes are. We can't make a judgment of whether the off-label use we document… is appropriate or inappropriate." Read more on cancer.
Poll: One in Eight American Adults has Type 2 Diabetes
One in eight American adults—or 29 million people—suffer from type 2 diabetes, according to a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll. The poll also found that one in three have a parent, sibling, spouse or child with diabetes. Despite those high numbers, only 21 percent of the people polled think of themselves as “well-versed” on the chronic condition, according to HealthDay. "Diabetes is very insidious,” said Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City. “You don't know you're in trouble until the complications hit or until it's so out of control you have uncontrolled urination and thirst." Read more on diabetes.
Study: IVF Does Not Affect Risk of Breast, Gynecological Cancers
In vitro fertilization (IVF) does not increase a woman’s risk of breast and gynecological cancers, according to a new study in the journal Fertility & Sterility. Researchers looked at the medical records of 67,608 women who underwent IVF between 1994 and 2011 and 19,795 women who sought treatment, did not receive it. They found no increase in the chance of being diagnosed with breast or endometrial cancer and only a slight increase in ovarian cancer depending on the times treated, which might have been the result of chance. Previous studies had linked IVF to increased risk of breast cancer and borderline ovarian tumors. Read more on cancer.
Studies Link Excessive Television as Kids, Violence as Adults
Reducing the amount of violent television programming a child watches may also reduce their aggression levels, according to two new studies in the journal Pediatrics. A New Zealand study found higher rates of criminal convictions in people who had watched more television as children, while a U.S. study found kids who watched “pro-social” programming were better behaved than their peers who watched regular programming. "It's not just the bad behaviors that they get from TV. They can get good behaviors, too," said the U.S. study's lead author, Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. The link between television and violence has been difficult for researchers to study because of the presence of so many other factors, but the findings do support previous research showing a link between watching too much television early in life and antisocial problems, according to study co-author Bob Hancox, MD, an associate professor in the department of preventive and social medicine at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Read more on violence.
NIH: Diabetes Control Much Improved in Past Two Decades
People are increasingly meeting the recommended goals for the top markers of diabetes control, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes Care. The "ABC's" of diabetes control include A1C (which assesses blood sugar levels), blood pressure and cholesterol. About 19 percent of people with diabetes met all three of the goals in 2010, up from only 2 percent in 1988. The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted and funded the study. Still, the researchers say continued improvement is needed, especially for younger people and certain minority groups. Read more on diabetes.
Certain Alcohol Brands Dominate Underage Drinking
A small number of alcohol brands in particular are most popular with underage drinkers, according to a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. About 27.9 percent of underage youth reporting they’d had Bud Light in the past 30 days, making it the most used. Smirnoff Malt Beverages and Budweiser were second and third. “Importantly, this report paves the way for subsequent studies to explore the association between exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing efforts and drinking behavior in young people,” said study author David Jernigan, PhD, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read more on alcohol.
Report: Informational Tools Help Men Make Better Prostate Health Decisions
Decision-making aids help men make better—and more informed—decisions about prostate screenings, according to a new report in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers found the aids help the men weigh different possible outcomes, such as catching extra cancers, possibly reducing their risk of death or avoiding unpleasant side effects. As many as one in four family physicians regular perform prostate screenings without first getting a patient’s permission, according to Reuters. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against prostate-specific antigen tests for men who are not at high-risk. Read more on cancer.
Study: Kids Treated for ADHD Still Show Serious Symptoms
As many as 90 percent of kids who are treated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) still show serious symptoms after six years, indicating the chronic condition requires advancements in long-term behavioral and pharmacological treatments, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The study did not look into issues such as whether medications were ineffective or not taken as prescribed. "Our study was not designed to answer these questions, but whatever the reason may be, it is worrisome that children with ADHD, even when treated with medication, continue to experience symptoms, and what we need to find out is why that is and how we can do better," said lead investigator Mark Riddle, MD, a pediatric psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. ADHD causes difficulty in concentration, restlessness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Read more on mental health.
Cancer Death Rates Down, But Could Be Even Better with Improved Access to Care
The U.S. mortality rate for cancer has dropped 20 percent since 1991, equal to about 1.2 million lives, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Improved treatments have helped cut the death rates for colon, breast and prostate cancers, but the rates could be even lower if more people had access to new and advanced treatments, according to John Seffrin, ACS’ chief executive officer. “Not all demographic groups have benefited equally from these gains, particularly those diagnosed with colorectal or breast cancer, where earlier detection and better treatments are credited for the improving trends," said Seffrin, according to HealthDay. "We can and must close this gap so that people are not punished for having the misfortune of being born poor and disadvantaged." Read more on cancer.
Survey: Shortage of Treatments for Multidrug-resistant TB
Treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are difficult to come by for approximately 80 percent of the U.S. health departments that treat the disease, according to a National Tuberculosis Controllers Association survey of health departments. The obstacles include nationwide shortages, shipping delays the difficulty in procuring drugs that are still undergoing testing, while potential fixes include looking to foreign manufacturers, improving stockpiles and expediting the approval of new drugs. There were about 10,528 cases of tuberculosis in the United States in 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on infectious disease.
Obese Kids at Greater Risk of Immediate Health Problems
Children who are obese are also at increased risk of asthma, learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study in the journal Academic Pediatrics. “Childhood obesity not only has long-term impact in terms of future heart disease, diabetes and other problems that we have been hearing so many things about," said study lead Neal Halfon, MD, director of the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles. "It also has an immediate impact on the health, mental health and development of children.” The researcher said further study is needed to determine causation or whether other factors are involved. Approximately 12.5 million children and teens are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on obesity.
Survey: 34 Percent of Smokers Trying to Quit in 2013
About 34 percent of American smokers have selected quitting as one of their 2013 New Year’s resolutions, up from 18 percent last year, according to a new study conducted on behalf of Legacy. Health factors and the cost of cigarettes were both cited as reasons. It takes an average of six to nine attempts for people to successfully give up smoking, making this period especially important to support those giving it a try. “Many smokers may have begun their New Year’s quit attempt and have already relapsed and that’s okay,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. “We need to encourage them to build a quit plan and then try to quit again.” Read more on tobacco.
ASCO Outlines Recommendations on Care for Cancer Survivors
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released new recommendations on how to improve the quality of care cancer survivors, who are at risk for other health problems and issues stemming from treatment. About 13 million cancer survivors are in the country. The recommendations help health care providers, patients, researchers and policymakers prioritize the components of care. "Most patients still want to see their oncologists even after they have finished active treatment,” said Sandra Swain, MD, FACP, ASCO president. “Oncologists are well positioned to lead and develop a strategy for coordinating follow-up care with primary care providers." They were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read more on cancer.
IOM to Study Sports-related Concussions for Youth Athletes
The Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science, has launched a new national study on sports-related concussions for youth athletes. The panel plans to submit its report this summer for publication in late 2013. U.S. emergency rooms report about 173,000 sports-related temporary brain injuries—including concussions—each year, according to a 2010 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concussions have been linked to increase risk of mental illness, including depression, and can even lead to suicide. Read more on injury prevention.
Most US Cancer Screening Rates Didn’t Meet Government Goals
Too few Americans are seeking preventive cancer screenings, according to a recent study in Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology.
Researchers say that reasons for the decline include disagreements among medical professional societies abut which screenings to recommend, and how often, which can be confusing for consumers, and a high rate of uninsured people who would have to pay the full screening costs themselves.
For the study, researchers looked at cancer screening rates for colorectal, breast, cervical and prostate cancer among nearly 175,000 Americans who took part in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2010, and found that except for colorectal cancer, which exceeded the screening goal of Healthy People 2010, screening rates fell short of the U.S. goal for the other cancers. Among employed cancer survivors, screening rates met or exceeded goals except for screening rates for cervical cancer.
Poor Reading Rates in Middle School Linked to Higher Rate of Pregnancies among High School Girls
Seventh grade girls who have trouble reading are more likely to get pregnant while they are in high school than average or above-average seventh grade readers, according to a new study in the journal Contraception. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reviewed standardized test reading scores for 12,339 seventh grade girls from 92 different Philadelphia public schools and tracked the girls, and their scores, over the next six years.
During that period, 1,616 of the teenagers had a baby, including 201 who gave birth two or three times. Among girls who scored below average on their reading tests, 21 percent went on to have a baby as a teenager. That compared to 12 percent who had average scores and five percent of girls who scored above average on the standardized tests.
The researchers say that the link between reading and pregnancy may be that poor academic skills may shape how teens see their future opportunities and have an impact on the risks they take.
Obesity Declining in Children Ages 2-4
Obesity may be declining among preschool-aged children living in low-income families according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers analyzed data on 27 million children in the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System which includes almost 50 percent of children eligible for federally funded maternal and child health and nutrition programs. The children ranged in age from 2 to 4, and came from thirty states and the District of Columbia. Data collected on children included height, weight and levels of obesity and extreme obesity. The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003. The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75 percent in 1998 to 2.22 percent in 2003. However, the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly to 14.94 percent in 2010; and the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased to 2.07 percent in 2010.
Study: Murder is Contagious and Can Spread Like Other Epidemics
Murder can be contagious and spread through communities like other epidemics, according to new research in the journal Justice Quarterly. Poorer neighborhoods are most susceptible, while communities that are diverse and immigrant-rich are least vulnerable. The research demonstrates a need—and a path—to prevent violence by combating risk factors. "For homicide, if you start trying to revitalize a community, are you going to stop a homicide that would have been committed tomorrow? Probably not," said study co-author April Zeoli, a criminal justice researcher at Michigan State University. "But you are maybe going to prevent homicides that would have been committed a year from now." Read more on violence.
Video on CPR Makes Dying Cancer Patients Less Likely to Want Aggressive End-of-life Care
Watching a three-minute video on CPR makes dying cancer patients less likely to opt for aggressive end-of-life care, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study found that 48 percent wanted CPR after being told about the procedure, while only 20 percent wanted it after viewing a demonstration and seeing what’s actually done during CPR. Angelo Volandes, MD, the study's lead author from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, said as they were dying of a terminal condition, procedures such as CPR only prolonged the dying process. “It's one of the most important issues in American medicine today,” Volandes said. “People are getting medical interventions that, if they had more knowledge, they would simply not want." Read more on cancer.
Study: Distracted Walking may be as Dangerous as Distracted Driving
Distracted walking due to cell phone may be just as dangerous as distracted driving due to texting or talking on the phone. The devices divert the attention of pedestrians and increase the chance they will be hit by a car or otherwise injured. "Texters are not looking before they cross the street, they are not crossing with the light, they are walking more slowly and they are not looking at traffic,” said Beth Ebel, MD, lead researcher and director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. They are putting themselves at risk; they are putting the car that hits them at risk." Ebel said the research demonstrates the need for pedestrians to exercise better judgment about when to use electronic devices. The new study appears in the journal Injury Prevention. Read more on injury prevention.
Men More Likely than Women to Die of Cancer
Men are more likely than women to both be diagnosed with cancer and to die of the disease, according to a new study in The Journal of Urology. The researchers did not include mortality rates for sex-specific cancers. The gender gap could be due to men's higher rates of smoking and drinking, as well as they fact that men are on average less likely to have frequent doctor visits—meaning cancers are not caught as early. "That means going to screening programs, seeing a general practitioner or primary care provider on a regular basis and as soon as symptoms arise that are new, mentioning that to their primary care physicians," said Yang Yang, a sociologist and cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not part of the study. Read more on cancer.
Survey Finds Major Support for Worksite Wellness Initiatives
The States of Wellness national survey on worksite wellness has found that, more and more, businesses are understanding and embracing the business benefits of wellness initiatives. The poll found that 87 percent of organizations understand the importance of worksite wellness and 74 percent said they would utilize community-based collaborations to learn about and improve wellness initiatives. Read more on physical activity and partnerships.
Study: Simply Cutting Fat Intake Drops Weight, Keeps it Off
Simply switching high-fat foods with low-fat foods isn’t as effective as dieting, but it still lowers weight and the weight stays off, according to a new study in the journal BMJ. Researchers say the findings could have a major effect on dietary recommendations in the ongoing effort to prevent cancer, stroke and heart disease—all of which include excessive weight as a contributing factor. "This means having low-fat milk and yogurt, cutting down on butter and cheese and cutting the fat off meat," said study leader Lee Hooper, MD, of the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, in a release. "Most importantly, have fruit instead of fatty snacks like biscuits, cake and crisps. And remember, this isn't a diet, so don't take it to extremes, but work out a way of eating that you can stick to permanently." Read more on nutrition and obesity.
Studies Linking Cancer, Nutrition Can be Tricky to Analyze
A new report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition casts doubt on many other reports linking certain foods to increases or decreases in cancer risk. When people worry about certain conclusions based on weak or misinterpreted evidence, that can take focus away from foods and actions with more evidence supporting their links—or lack of links—to cancer. The new research demonstrates the need to rethink how to analyze and report the science. "We have seen a very large number of studies, just too many studies, suggesting that they had identified associations with specific food ingredients with cancer risk," said John Ioannidis, MD, from the Stanford Prevention Research Center in California, to Reuters. "People get scared or they think that they should change their lives and make big decisions, and then things get refuted very quickly." Read more on cancer.
Study: Sleep Disorder Linked to Later Heart Problems
Treating the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea may help prevent heart issues such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, heart attack and stroke, according to new findings presented at the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging in Athens, Greece. Researchers found the sleep disorder causes the same sort of cardiovascular damage as that found in people with diabetes. "Patients should realize that behind snoring there can be a serious cardiac pathology and they should get referred to a sleep specialist," said Raluca Mincu, MD, of Bucharest, Romania, in a European Society of Cardiology news release. "If they are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, they are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and need to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce that risk." Read more on heart health.
Study: People Who Think They Ate More Are Less Likely to be Hungry Later
Think you had a big meal? Even if you didn’t, simply thinking so can make you less hungry later, according to a new study in the journal PLoS One. Researchers from the University of Bristol in England secretly altered the amount of soup eaten by volunteers, with those thinking they had larger portions—even when they didn’t—less likely to be hungry several hours later. The findings could have a major impact on how to control portions and calorie intake. Read more on nutrition.