A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

A sun salutation a day may keep the doctor away

(Reuters Health) Training patients to practice deep relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation – long touted to ease stress and anxiety – may also lead them to make fewer doctor visits, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 4,400 patients who were referred by their health care providers to the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where they received what’s known as relaxation response training.
Compared to the year before the training, in the year afterward, these people had an average 43 percent reduction in their use of health services. Over the same period, health services use was little changed for another group of 13,000 similar patients who didn’t receive relaxation response training.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Washing Dishes Reduces Stress

(University Herald) Washing dishes after a long day could be a stress reliever, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Florida State University found that mindfully washing dishes calms the mind and decreases stress.
"I've had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher," Adam Hanley, one of the study authors and a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education's Counseling/School Psychology program, said in a statement. "I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being."
For the study, researchers looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness -- a meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment. They collected and analyzed data from more than 51 people.
They found that mindful dishwashers -- those who focused on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water, the feel of the dishes -- reported a decrease in nervousness by 27 percent and an increase in mental inspiration by 25 percent. The control group, on the other hand, didn't experience any benefits.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Inhale, exhale, all hail proper breathing practices

(Washington Post) [B]reathing deeply and fully can be key when relaxing and releasing tension, says Elliot Greene, a Silver Spring-based psychotherapist.
“Humans don’t tolerate anxiety very well,” says Greene, who specializes in the interconnectedness of the mind and body and uses massage therapy in his practice. “One of the ways we cope is to shut down.”
That means “putting a lid on” or “choking on” our feelings — both apt expressions since they can involve partially holding our breath, tensing the diaphragm and relying on shallow breathing, Greene says.
When we do all this, it has ripple effects throughout the body and mind, Greene says. Our shoulders hike up and our throats constrict — we feel stuck physically and mentally, hardly a relaxed state.
On the flip side, if we breathe deeply and can release some of the built-up tension — physical and emotional — we feel better, Greene says.
“Taking deep chest and belly breaths can help us become ‘unstuck,’ ” he says.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Perceived discrimination linked to smoking and poor diet

(Reuters Health) Feeling like the target of discrimination may increase a person’s odds of harmful behaviors like smoking, eating fatty foods and getting less sleep, a study of African-Americans suggests.
Researchers examined the connection between discrimination and these unhealthy habits among almost 5,000 African-American residents of the Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area.
“We conducted this particular analysis to understand the extent to which multiple measures of perceived discrimination were associated with types of behaviors that are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease in African-Americans,” lead study author Mario Sims, a researcher with the Jackson Heart Study and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said by email.
The new study found that higher levels of everyday discrimination were associated with more smoking, higher fat consumption and less sleep in both men and women.
Community: Not to mention increasing stress, a killer in itself. There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Stressful jobs tied to small increase in stroke risk

(Reuters Health) Up to one in four jobs are “high strain,” and people in these lines of work may be at increased risk of stroke, according to a new analysis of past research.
Based on studies that included nearly 140,000 participants, researchers found an overall 22 percent higher stroke risk among those in high-strain jobs versus low-strain occupations. In some cases, the risk was elevated by up to 58 percent.
Previous studies of work stress and stroke had been inconsistent, senior author Dr. Dingli Xu of Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, told Reuters Health.
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Warm Up to These Fall Dishes

(SouthBeachDiet.com) There's no better time than fall to enjoy warming, satisfying soups, stews, roasts, and chilis, along with the freshest produce from this year's harvest. Besides being comfort food, our autumn-inspired dishes are good for you. Here are six of our favorite recipes to try.
Lentil and Kale Stew
These days, with the leafy dark greens omnipresent in the produce aisles and at farmers' markets and farm stands, you'll have no trouble finding the freshest kale. This vogue vegetable is delicious in our Lentil and Kale Stew, which is sprinkled just before serving with some shredded, reduced-fat white Cheddar cheese.
Sage and Rosemary Pork
A trio of fresh herbs makes this roasted pork loin entrée irresistible. Sage, rosemary, and parsley give the meat a lovely aroma and plenty of flavor.
Turkey and White Bean Chili
Our warming protein-packed chili is a melting pot of autumnal flavors. This version, which uses cubed turkey cutlets rather than ground beef or turkey, is perfectly spiced with cumin and chili powder and loaded with fiber-rich cannellini beans.
Roasted Ratatouille Bisque
Eggplant, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic are oven-roasted, then most of the vegetables are puréed with reduced-sodium chicken broth for this healthy take on a classic French bisque.
Butternut Squash Purée
One of fall's bumper crops, butternut squash has a mildly sweet flesh that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. To prepare this colorful purée, we roast the butternut squash in the oven for about 45 minutes along with garlic and thyme to allow the flavors to infuse the flesh. Be sure to let the squash cool before scooping out the flesh.
Green and White Florets with Pumpkin Seeds
Broccoli and cauliflower are ubiquitous at this time of year and combining the two cruciferous vegetables in a side dish gives you a big health boost. First the vegetables are briefly boiled until just crisp-tender then quickly stir-fried. If you can't find pumpkin seeds, use sunflower seeds instead.
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Shopping at Grocery Stores Down, Unhealthy Foods Up

(MedPage Today) Americans are increasingly shopping from places other than grocery stores -- like warehouse clubs and convenience stores -- and have been purchasing unhealthier foods, according to a new study.
Researchers found that from 2000 to 2012, households bought more food at mass merchandisers (from 13.1% of proportion of total volume of food to 23.9%), convenience stores (3.6% to 5.9%), and warehouse clubs (6.2% to 9.8%). They bought less of their food at grocery stores, found the authors, who were led by Barry Popkin, PhD, at the University of North Carolina.
In addition, top common sources of calories from packaged food purchases included unhealthy foods like savory snacks, grain-based desserts, and soft drinks…
"It may not only be store type availability that matters, but the fact that unhealthy foods/beverages are ubiquitous and are purchased everywhere," the authors wrote. "Additionally, more should be done to encourage non-grocery retailers to stock and promote purchases of more healthful products at better prices relative to less healthful foods."
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Drinking Tea Helps Protect Bones
Drinking [three or more cups of tea daily] was associated with a lower likelihood of a bone fracture due to osteoporosis in a study of elderly Australian women.
Tart Cherry Juice for a Better Night’s Rest
Sipping tart cherry juice before bedtime offers a natural approach to overcoming insomnia.
Drinking Tonic Water Prevents Nighttime Leg Cramps
The quinine that gives tonic water its distinctive flavor is probably responsible for its ability to prevent nighttime leg cramps.
Milk of Magnesia (Magnesium) Solves Rosacea and Acne
Topical magnesium in the form of milk of magnesia or Epsom salts has been surprisingly effective for skin blemishes and acne rosacea.
Using Eyes Outdoors Helps Long-Distance Vision
[C]hildren who had more outdoor activities reduced their likelihood of developing myopia (near-sightedness) by 23 percent.
Vitamin D Supplements Fall Short on Preventing Falls
Neither high-dose nor low-dose vitamin D supplements were effective at preventing falls in a study of older women.
Antibiotics (Quinolones) Linked to Aortic Aneurysm
People taking an antibiotic such as Avelox, Cipro or Levaquin have twice the risk of a rare but very dangerous condition called aortic aneurysm.
Do Antidepressants Speed Stroke Rehabilitation?
People taking SSRI antidepressants may have better success with stroke rehabilitation than those taking old-fashioned tricyclic or no antidepressants.
Statins Are NOT a Magic Bullet for Longer Life
Doctors may tell patients that statins will save their lives, but they don't say how much longer that life will be. New data shows you can count it in days.
Does Ambien Cause Acid Reflux?
The sleeping pill zolpidem (Ambien) has been linked to symptoms of acid reflux, although the connection is sometimes hard to prove.
Drugs That Cause Brain Fog For People Over 60
Doctors get little training on side effects of anticholinergic medications. Such drugs are widely prescribed but patients are rarely warned about brain fog.
Is Drug Company Greed Out of Control?
The cost of life-saving medicines has reached stratospheric levels. That's especially true for rare diseases. Without access to these drugs people will die.
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Side effects from dietary supplements send 23000 people a year to ER

(USA Today) Dietary supplements send at least 23,000 Americans a year to the emergency room and cause at least 2,000 to be hospitalized, according to a study published online Wednesday.
The true number of ER visits caused by dietary supplements – which include vitamins, minerals, herbs and other products – could be much larger than the study's estimates because many patients don't mention their supplement use when visiting the doctor, according to the study…
The report has led some health advocates to renew calls for stronger regulation of supplements.
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Vitamin D and calcium fail colon cancer prevention test

(USA Today) Despite high hopes that they might help prevent colon cancer, supplements of vitamin D and calcium failed to prevent pre-cancerous colon polyps in a new study.
The study … is the latest to dampen scientific enthusiasm for supplements in general and vitamin D and calcium in particular. It comes just days after two studies found no bone-health benefits for older adults taking calcium supplements. And it builds on previous trials finding scant evidence that vitamin D prevents cancer, at least in the doses and time frames studied so far.
"Vitamin D has gotten a lot of popular press," and many people take it in hopes of preventing all sorts of health problems, but "we got what we got and it's negative," said lead researcher John Baron, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Keep Your Mouth Healthy: Oral Care for Older Adults

(NIH News in Health) Tooth decay and gum disease don’t have to be a part of getting older. You can take steps to keep your mouth healthy throughout your lifetime. And if you’re a caregiver for an older adult, you can help ensure that he or she gets proper oral care…
Reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease by brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. Also visit the dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup. 
Another common problem for older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when you don’t have enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. “Saliva is very important,” Fischer says. “The protective factors in saliva prevent cavities, gum disease, and fungal infections.”
Dry mouth can be caused by medications; alcohol or tobacco; or medical conditions, such as poorly controlled diabetes. Dry mouth is usually treatable, so talk with your doctor or dentist if you’re having problems…
A healthy mouth can help you eat well, avoid pain, and feel good about yourself. Take steps to keep your mouth healthy, whatever your age.
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Diverticulitis on the rise in U.S. since 2000

(Reuters Health) – Diverticulitis, a disabling colon problem that can cause pain, obstruction and fever, became more common in the U.S. from the late 1990’s to the mid-2000’s, a new study suggests.
The findings are from one Minnesota county, but other research indicates that hospitalizations for diverticulitis also increased in the U.S. generally during this period.
The overall incidence of diverticulitis, with or without hospitalization, increased by 50 percent since 2000, and more so in younger people, said lead author Dr. Adil E. Bharucha of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota…
Experts do not know why the incidence of diverticulitis has been on the rise, Bharucha said.
Obesity may be one risk factor for the condition, and obesity has also become more common in recent decades, which may partly explain the trend, he said.
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Support rising for outdoor smoking bans in U.S., Canada

(Reuters Health) A growing number of people in the U.S. and Canada support smoke-free laws for outdoor venues, especially where children congregate or at building entrances, according to a new review of public surveys.
Based on 89 surveys in both countries between 1993 and 2014, researchers say the growth of support for smoking restrictions, even among smokers, shows that outdoor smoking bans can achieve majority support.
“This and other studies have found that it looks like people may become more favorable towards these regulations once they’re put in place and they get used to them,” said Deborah Ossip, president-elect of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, who was not involved in the study.
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U.S. prescription opioid misuse and deaths increase

(Reuters Health) The proportion of people reporting use of prescription opioids for reasons other than medical necessity fell between 2003 and 2013, but use disorders and overdose deaths increased, according to a new study.
“The results underscore the importance of addressing the prescription opioid crisis,” said lead author Dr. Beth Han of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Rockville, Maryland.
High-intensity opioid use increased during a time of increased prescribing of these drugs during the 2000s, Han told Reuters Health by email.
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Opioid Epidemic Is Driven by Prescribers

(MedPage Today) Overprescribing is a key reason for the current opioid abuse epidemic, several speakers said here.
"While our office wants to ensure that those patients who need access to pain medication get it, we know all of the morbidity and mortality associated with this epidemic can be tracked to the vast overprescribing of prescription drugs in the United States," Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy and a recovering addict, said…
He noted that on average, medical students receive 11 hours worth of education on pain medication and virtually no education on substance use disorders. "That's why our office ... [plans] to call for mandatory education for every prescriber," Botticelli said. "I don't think that 10 years into this epidemic, it's unreasonable to ask prescribers to have a minimal amount of continuing medical education to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse."..
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Eye-tracking devices may help ICU patients communicate

(Reuters Health) Eye-tracking devices might help some patients communicate even when mechanical ventilators make it impossible for them to speak, a small pilot project suggests.
Researchers offered eye-trackers to 12 patients on ventilators in intensive care units (ICUs) at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, during 2013 and 2014. All of the participants were cognitively capable of communication and able to convey comprehension by blinking, nodding their head or some other motion.
Tiny cameras followed patients’ eye movements, allowing them to communicate by staring directly at images and words on a computer monitor. Once patients got training on how to use the gadgets, the eye-trackers appeared to help patients feel less confused, happier and more confident in their ability to communicate.
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Don't Blame Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli -- Blame the System

(Saurabh Jha MD) I understand why the price of the drug is more than the sunk costs of R&D, the cost of production, and the cost of the CEO's private yacht. I understand patents and intellectual property. I get that if pharma doesn't enjoy monopoly, even temporarily, there'd be little incentive to innovate. But this logic has been extended to such a nonsensical level that any perturbation of the status quo, such as importing generics, leads to the threat that pharma won't innovate...
No innovation is a bald threat that hasn't been empirically tested. The reason it hasn't been empirically tested is because there's a slim possibility that it may turn out to be true. This is a game of chicken, to borrow game theory, in which pharma doesn't blink, and we're too much of a chicken to call their bluff. We have made a Faustian bargain with pharma -- we want to live longer, and they want to make more money. It's win-win, until we see the price tag.
Compounding this is the runaway logic which prohibits the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from price-fixing. The logic, endemic in conservative circles, is that price-fixing is socialism, and obviously if we fix prices we are a short step to gulags. The logic is getting tedious. Not least because what is being defended is not free market capitalism, but a political economy that is the union of the ugliest wart of capitalism -- greed -- and the most sterile part of socialism: lack of competition. Drugonomics is not Adam Smith's invisible hand. It is Gordon Gekko's visible middle finger.
Community: My comment:
Corporations and other businesses only exist because we the people allow them to.
It's time for us to take back the power and force them to put ethical boundaries right into the charters that allow them to do business.
We can stop the externalization of costs to the taxpayers while internalizing profits. All we need is the will to do so.
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US cancer doctors drop pricey drugs that have little or no effect

(Reuters) U.S. oncologists, aware that patients are paying more of the costs of expensive cancer drugs, are increasingly declining to prescribe medicines that have scant or no effect, even as a last resort.
At least half a dozen drugs, including colon cancer treatments Cyramza, from Eli Lilly & Co, and Stivarga, sold by Bayer AG, aren't worth prices that can exceed $100,000 a year, top cancer specialists said in interviews with Reuters.
If specialists do start considering a drug's cost in their prescribing habits, such decisions could dent the multibillion-dollar cancer drug business of companies from Roche Holding AG to Celgene Corp. Worldwide spending on cancer medicines reached $100 billion in 2014, a year-over-year jump of more than 10 percent.
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No raise for 65 million on Social Security

(CNN Money) For the first time in five years, there will be no annual raise in their Social Security benefits in 2016.
The reason? A decline in inflation caused by falling gas prices…
The problem for seniors is that the way the government measures inflation simply doesn't reflect how people on Social Security spend.
Seniors don't benefit as much from lower gas prices as the average American worker because most are no longer driving to and from work. Medical costs have also increased faster than overall inflation, and a greater percentage of seniors' spending is on health care.
A study by the Senior Citizens League found that Social Security benefits have lost about 22% of their buying power since 2000, despite the benefit increases due to the COLA.
Community: My comment:
Which prices have gone down? Not any that affect me.
Meat is twice what the price was last year. Other groceries are up, too, despite having lower transportation costs.
Our medigap insurance had a 5% mid-year increase, and there may be another increase for next year.
We don't yet know how much Medicare Part B will go up, but they're saying that there will be an increase.
Cook County has increased the valuation of our condo by 22%, which will mean a gigantic increase in property taxes.
Our condo association fees are about to increase by 3.5%.
And those are only the things that pop right to mind.
With interest rates as low as they are and remain, we are in a serious bind. They told us all our lives that we should save our money for retirement, and now that we’re here, that money isn’t earning anything.
It’s outrage time. Help fight this decision: http://www.socialsecurityworks.org/

Eat peas and blue cheese to 'stave off cancer', protect against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's'

(Daily Mail) Eating plenty of green peas, soybeans, corn and blue cheese, could help you live longer by warding off disease, experts have discovered.
The foods, all rich in a compound called spermidine, could help stave off cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, among others.
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel discovered that spermidine reverses the body's circadian rhythm, making it 'younger' and less prone to the age-related diseases. 
They note that falling levels of polyamines, compounds that are present in all living cells, cause circadian rhythms to slow down.
This effect was reversed by a dietary supplementation containing spermidine, when given to mice.
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Why Women May Want to Lay Off the Red Meat

(Sharecare) The next time you cook dinner, skip the juicy steak or plump hamburger and go for fresh salmon or skinless chicken breast. A large Harvard University study found that women who eat a lot of red meat had a significantly higher risk for breast cancer. But replacing a daily serving of red meat with lean protein, like chicken, fish or nuts, appeared to lower breast cancer risk…
While the red meat-breast cancer connection isn’t clear, researchers do have a few guesses. One possibility is that red meat has been shown to release cancer-causing byproducts when cooked at high temperatures. Another theory is that hormones given to cattle to increase their growth may also raise a woman’s hormone levels. There’s also the fact that processed meats contain nitrates, which have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. (Or, it could be that women who eat less red meat have other healthy habits that fight breast cancer.)
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6 Red- and Pink-Hued Cancer-Fighting Foods

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The American Cancer Society recognizes October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With that in mind, the South Beach Diet encourages you to eat a variety of antioxidant-rich, disease-fighting foods in a rainbow of colors to help improve your health and reduce your risk of cancer. But in an effort to think pink, we're reminding you to incorporate more red- and pink-hued foods into your meals. Research shows that foods with lycopene, the carotenoid that gives foods a red or pinkish color, may help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, among other types of cancers. Other antioxidants like polyphenols, which are also responsible for giving certain foods their red or pink color, have been shown to help protect against cancer as well.
Roman beans…
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Food as Medicine: Minimizing Your Risk Of Cancer

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Want to minimize your risk of cancer? Start eating more mushrooms! Many Asian species are packed with health benefits, and contain unique polysaccharides which appear to boost both the activity and number of the body's natural-killer cells.
Enoki, maitake, reishi, royal sun agaricus, shiitake, and zhu ling have all have been studied for their anticancer and immune-boosting properties. Look for them in local and specialty grocery stores.
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Cancer survivors often have poor diets

(Reuters Health) Cancer survivors may be less likely to follow a healthy diet than other people, particularly where leafy greens and whole grains are concerned, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers analyzed the diets of about 1,500 cancer survivors and 3,000 people without any history of tumors, ranking them based on how well they followed U.S. dietary recommendations.
Neither group ate very well, but the cancer survivors generally had less nutritious habits than the other people in the study, researchers report in the journal Cancer.
The findings are troubling because nutrition plays an important role in preventing diseases, and poor eating habits can exacerbate many chronic health conditions common among cancer survivors, lead study author Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, a nutrition researcher at Tufts University in Boston, said by email.
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Menopause: Hormone Therapy an Option for Some Women

(MedPage Today) Menopausal hormonal therapy should be recommended only for a carefully selected group of women, according to new guidelines released by the Endocrine Society.
Women who are under 60 or who have spent fewer than 10 years since menopause, and who don't have any contraindications for cardiovascular problems or for breast cancer, are ideal candidates for therapy if they choose it, said Cynthia Stuenkel, MD, of the University of California San Diego, who chaired the task force that developed the guidelines…
"We're taking a very conservative approach," said Stuenkel during a press conference this week. But she also said that because menopausal symptoms can disrupt the quality of life significantly for some women, "there are instances in which a woman with a history of coronary heart disease or breast cancer, for example, will choose to accept a degree of risk that might be considered to outweigh the benefits of menopausal hormone therapy."
"An accepted philosophy is that a fully informed patient should be empowered to make a decision that best balances benefits to that individual when weighed against potential risks," she added.
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Annual Mammography Starting at Age 40 Still Best Way to Saves Lives from Breast Cancer

(American College of Radiology) The American College of Radiology (ACR), Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and major medical organizations experienced in breast cancer care continue to recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. This approach saves many more lives than screening started at a later age or with less frequent exams. To mark National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are encouraged to ask their health care providers about scheduling an annual mammogram.
"All women age 40 and over can benefit from annual mammography. Risk-based screening is a poor approach. Seventy-five percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history or other factors that place them at high risk for the disease. I encourage women to speak with their providers about mammography benefits and limitations and create a schedule to get their annual mammograms," said Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission.
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Catching Breast Cancer Early Saves Lives, Study Confirms

(NBC News) Catching breast cancer early still saves lives, even with better treatment such as targeted drugs, Dutch researchers reported Tuesday.
The findings support the use of regular mammograms to detect breast tumors at the earliest possible stages, other experts argued. And the new research is reassurance that less-invasive surgery saves lives just as well as radical mastectomies would.
It also demonstrates that consistent, high-quality care matters. The breast cancer survival rate in the Netherlands is 96 percent and it's 100 percent for the smallest tumors, the researchers noted. The five-year breast cancer survival rate in the U.S. is 90 percent…
Several studies have suggested that routine mammograms don't necessarily save women's lives, even if they detect breast cancer earlier. The Netherlands study may contradict that finding.
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Study casts doubt on computer-aided mammograms

(Bloomberg) [A] study found that breast cancer screening performed with computer-aided technology failed to find more tumors.
The technology, approved in the U.S. in 1998, is used in 90 percent of mammograms performed each year at a cost of more than $400 million, according to lead researcher Constance Lehman, director of breast imaging and co-director of the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. That should end, she said.
"There is absolutely no question from our research that computer-aided detection offers no benefit to catching cancers that otherwise would have been missed or improving performance," Lehman said. "We should certainly stop charging for it. We want to use our health-care dollars on technology that will improve the health of our patients."
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Can Diamonds Detect Cancer?

(The Daily Beast) Diamonds may soon be everyone’s best friend. 
A new study out of Australia found synthetic versions of the bright gems to be effective at detecting early-stage cancerous tumors through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With the American Cancer Society’s estimating that 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and over 500,000 will die in 2015, the study could prove lifesaving for years to come…
[T]he study explores diamonds’ ability to light up cancer cells that are generally undetectable…
While diamonds’ role in both detecting and treating cancer sounds promising, it’s not the only shiny object to be explored by science. A growing body of evidence is now suggesting that gold may have its own unique powers when it comes to fighting cancer.
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Slow Medicine: Is the Time Right for Watchful Waiting for DCIS?

(Pieter Cohen, MD, Michael Hochman, MD, and Rachael Bedard MD) [Anew analysis] confirmed that women with [pre-cancerous] DCIS are at a substantially elevated risk: projected 20-year breast cancer related mortality was calculated to be 3.3%, which is 1.8 times the rate of women in the general population.
But as for the impact of different therapies on patient outcomes, the results are unimpressive. The addition of radiation therapy to lumpectomy alone decreased the 20-year risk of ipsilateral invasive disease from 9.5% to 4.5% but did not significantly decrease 10-year breast-cancer mortality -- which was 0.9% with lumpectomy versus 0.8% with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy (and surprisingly, 10-year breast-cancer mortality was higher for women who had a mastectomy at 1.3%).
We remain skeptical of the value of early identification and aggressive treatment of DCIS, but this new study does not provide the key evidence to conclude that aggressive treatment of DCIS is ineffective.
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Aspirin may double survival for cancer patients

(Medical News Today) Aspirin may double the chances of survival for patients with gastrointestinal cancers, according to the results of a new study…
This research, led by Dr. Martine Frouws of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, adds to growing evidence suggesting aspirin may be useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Last month, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting aspirin may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, while a more recent study claims aspirin may help boost treatment response in patients with breast, skin and bowel cancers.
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Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

(Inderscience Publishers) New research suggests that age, race and family history are the biggest risk factors for a man to develop prostate cancer, although high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, and vasectomy also add to the risk. In contrast, obesity, alcohol abuse, and smoking show a negative association with the disease…
[The researchers] have analyzed data from The US Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest database in the USA for all-payer inpatient health care. They focused on the years 2007-2011 amounting to more than 12 million records and looked at men aged 35 to 100 years, finding that approximately 5.35% of them had prostate cancer (642383 men). They then used statistical analyses to look at the independent variables: age, race, family history of prostate cancer, family history of any other cancer, obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking, cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, vasectomy, and hypertension, to see which factors were critical variables associated with prostate cancer incidence.
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Sniffing out Cancer With Improved 'Electronic Nose' Sensors

(American Chemical Society) Scientists have been exploring new ways to "smell" signs of cancer by analyzing what's in patients' breath… [O]ne team now reports new progress toward this goal. The researchers have developed a small array of flexible sensors, which accurately detect compounds in breath samples that are specific to ovarian cancer…
The researchers developed a small, breath-diagnostic array based on flexible gold-nanoparticle sensors for use in an "electronic nose." The system -- tested on breath samples from 43 volunteers, 17 of whom had ovarian cancer -- showed an accuracy rate of 82 percent. The researchers say developing this method further would require larger-scale clinical testing. They add that the approach could also apply to diagnostics for other diseases.
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DNA-Based Vaccine Clears Nearly Half of Precancerous Cervical Lesions in Clinical Trial

(Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania) Using a novel synthetic platform for creating vaccines originally developed in the laboratory of David Weiner, PhD…, a team led by his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has successfully eradicated precancerous cervical lesions in nearly half of the women who received the investigational vaccine in a clinical trial. The goal, say the scientists, was to find nonsurgical ways to treat precancerous lesions caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
The vaccine is engineered to teach immune cells to recognize precancerous and cancerous cells. Those cells become coated with peptides derived from their stealth infection by two HPV strains that cause cervical cancer.
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New NIH breast cancer research to focus on prevention

(National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) A new phase of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), focused on prevention, is being launched at the National Institutes of Health. Grant-funded researchers will now work across scientific disciplines, involve new racially and ethnically diverse communities, and expand the study of risk factors that precede breast cancer…
The focus on minority and socio-economically disadvantaged women is an important step in addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Although African-American women are diagnosed with breast cancer less often than white women, more aggressive cancers and breast cancer deaths are more common among African-American women.
Another new direction for BCERP is research on the role of breast density as a possible intermediate risk factor for breast cancer. Dense breast tissue is one of the most common risk factors for breast cancer. Identifying links between environmental exposures and high breast density may provide new insights into prevention.
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Breast Cancer Tumor Test to Tailor Treatments

(NIH Research Matters) An international team of researchers has been exploring ways to identify which tumors would be the most likely to benefit from chemotherapy…
The scientists explored the ability of a diagnostic gene test, the Oncotype DX Recurrence Score (Genomic Health, Inc.), to predict which women could safely avoid receiving chemotherapy. The test had previously been found, using retrospective analyses (which look back at past events), to help predict the usefulness of chemotherapy and the likelihood of distant breast cancer recurrence…
[R]esults show that the Oncotype DX test can clearly identify women with an early stage of this type of breast cancer who can safely avoid chemotherapy. However, nearly 70% of the participants had a mid-range score… These women were randomly assigned to receive endocrine therapy plus chemotherapy or endocrine therapy alone, and are still being monitored. Scientists continue to work on other diagnostic gene test as well.
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Elephant genes hold clues for fight against cancer, scientists say

(CNN) Elephants are giant, cancer-battling super creatures that destroy damaged cells long before they become cancerous, scientists say…
A team of scientists from the University of Utah and Arizona State University said they can explain the lower numbers… They have "at least 40 copies of genes that code for p53, a protein well known for its cancer-inhibiting properties," scientists said. In comparison, humans have only two copies of such genes. The massive animals also detect damaged cells preemptively, which they then repair or kill.
"Elephants may have a more robust mechanism for killing damaged cells that are at risk for becoming cancerous," the study said. "Nature has already figured out how to prevent cancer," [said study co- author Joshua Schiffman]. "It's up to us to learn how different animals tackle the problem so we can adapt those strategies to prevent cancer in people."
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