August 4, 2014

Health Roundup: The Pill, chemo while pregnant, breastfeeding, aspirin, ibuprofen and blood test for cancer

Breastfeeding 'beats statins' to curb risk of heart disease: Babies given mother's milk for at least three months less likely to suffer from clogged arteries later in life

Being breastfed as a baby might be better than statins in staving off heart disease in later life, according to new research. Babies given mother’s milk for three months or more have a much lower risk of the chronic inflammation that can also lead to diabetes and other metabolic illnesses, US researchers say.  Suckling lowers the amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood that is linked to clogged arteries and damage to blood vessels.

Professor Molly Metzger, of Washington University, said: ‘We are looking at the effects of these early factors on later levels of CRP, a biomarker associated with risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Comparing the long-term effects of breastfeeding to the effects of clinical trials of statin therapy, we find breastfeeding to exert effects that are as large or larger."

Her findings – published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences – indicate breastfeeding has implications for children’s health decades later, she said. The researchers used data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, including parent surveys, and blood samples providing measurements of CRP.


Taking the Pill 'raises the risk of breast cancer by 50 per cent'

Women taking contraceptive pills have a 50 per cent higher overall risk of developing breast cancer, a study has found.  Some pills with high levels of oestrogen can raise the risk threefold, compared with that of women who have never taken the Pill or who have stopped using it, US scientists found. Pills containing low-dose hormones carried no extra risk.

The study – published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research – involved 23,000 women and claims to be the first to look at up-to-date formulations of oral contraceptives used in the 1990s and 2000s. Pills containing high-dose estrogen increased breast cancer risk 2.7-fold, or 170 per cent, while those with moderate-dose estrogen increased the risk 1.6-fold.  Pills containing low-dose estrogen did not increase breast cancer risk.  Across recent use of all pills, breast cancer risk increased by 50 per cent, compared with never or former use.

Chemo While Pregnant? L'Chaim!

Some chemotherapy drugs are thought to be harmful to a fetus during every stage of pregnancy, but many are not.  Pregnant women have been successfully treating their cancer in the second and third trimesters without harming their babies for over twenty years -- and yet this fact is far from common knowledge. 

How one-minute bursts of exercise can boost health for over-60s in just six weeks

Short, sharp bursts of exercise could transform the lives of the over-60s, research suggests.  Just two one-minute sessions a week for six weeks dramatically improved the health and physical fitness of men and women in this age group….Dr Babraj said: ‘What we found with this study, which involves doing just one minute of exercise twice a week, is that it not only improved the participants’ physical health and ability to do these things, but also their perceptions of their own ability to engage in physical activity.
‘They enjoyed it, were delighted with the effects it had on their health and, on top of that, felt they could fit it into their lives, which is something they aren’t able to do with current exercise recommendations.

Could aspirin give you a heart attack? Gene found which doubles the risk for millions who take painkiller thinking it will ward off cardiac problems

Nearly a quarter of adults - 23% - have been found to carry particular gene.  When combined with aspirin, it nearly doubles risk of suffering heart attack.  U.S. study is the first to link dangers from the painkiller with gene variations
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While past studies have shown taking aspirin can increase the risk of potentially life-threatening internal bleeding, this study, by scientists at Harvard University in the US, is the first to link dangers from the drug with gene variations.
Dr Kathryn Hall, the report’s lead author, said, ‘We need to look at ourselves as individuals, a certain constellation of genes, and to take that into consideration. If the research is validated in further study, it would be the logical next step to test everyone for these genes before giving them aspirin."

The latest study involved nearly 40,000 women over a ten-year period. Of those, 23 per cent carried a variation of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene, which helps the body process stress hormones, linked to heart problems and stroke.  The research found that those who had the gene were naturally protected and were 34 per cent less likely to have heart attacks. However, taking aspirin removed this protection and increased their risk of heart problems by 85 per cent – and, in some cases, by as much as three times.

Ibuprofen affects men and women very differently.when it comes to emotional distress. 

Men who take the drug report harsher feelings of rejection, and women report feeling better, researchers found. They say the discovery could shed new light on how men and women deal with emotional problems - and how best to treat them.

A revolutionary blood test that could detect any type of cancer has been developed by British scientists.
It is hoped the breakthrough will enable doctors to rule out cancer in patients presenting with certain symptoms - saving time and preventing costly and unnecessary invasive procedures and biopsies.  Early results have shown the simple test can diagnose cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) assesses white blood cells and measures the damage caused to their DNA when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA), which is known to damage DNA. The Bradford scientists say there is a 'clear distinction between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and from healthy patients'.

Another blood test appears to predict suicide risk through a particular gene - SKA2 - report researchers at John Hopkins after a small study.  More research is needed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at August 4, 2014 11:07 AM | Permalink