Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle studied nearly 1,300 men who underwent radical prostatectomies within six months of being diagnosed with prostatic carcinoma.About 18 months after the surgery, most of the men experienced impotence. The problem was somewhat more severe in those men who had lost one or both of the two major nerve bundles during the surgery. About eight percent reported bladder control problems.1
1. JAMA, January 19, 2000.
Mammography Screening: Not Decreasing Breast Cancer Mortality
Danish research published in The Lancet2 concludes that mammography screenings are not decreasing breast cancer mortality. Researchers based their conclusions on a hard look at eight previously published works. Most studies suggested a benefit, but two showed none. Those last two, say the Danish researchers, were the only ones to use an adequate randomization. The study was prompted by statistical evidence from Sweden that showed no decrease in breast cancer mortality since screenings began in 1985.
2. The Lancet, January 8, 2000.
Apples for Air
London researchers report that they have found a significant correlation between the number of apples a person eats each week and lung capacity. A five-year study of 2,500 Welsh men found improved lung function in those men who consumed five or more apples each week.3 The results seem unrelated to vitamin C or E intake, prompting the authors to ascribe the benefits to an antioxidant flavonoid (quercetin). Quercetin is also found in onions, tea and red wine.
3. Thorax, January 2000.
Low-Fat Is out; Moderation Is in
Researchers from around the world reported to an international food conference in London in January4 that the current low-fat diet fad has failed to decrease obesity in the world. Instead, they suggest that weight control and better health are more readily attained by a better balanced diet: one that includes a moderate amount of fats. Their ideal model resembles the Mediterranean diet: high in fruit, vegetables, grain, olive oil, fish and nuts.
4. Reuters, January 15, 2000.
Exercise for Hypertension
A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension5 reports that exercise can have a strong anti-hypertensive effect on patients. Researchers exercised a small group of mildly hypertensive obese men for 45 minutes on a treadmill. The lowered blood pressure readings were evident after the first session.
5. AJH, February 2000.
Italian researchers writing in the British Medical Journal6 suggest that much of the rapid increases in the incidences of asthma (about 50 percent in the past 10 years) are related to changes in the food supply, but not in a way you might think. They say that sterile food is to blame. Their study of more than 1,600 air force cadets found that those who had experienced stomach infections and similar conditions as a child were less likely to suffer from asthma and respiratory allergies when they became older.
6. BMJ, February 12, 2000.
Alcohol: Not for the Very Young
A new study published in Science7 concludes that permanent serious brain damage can be inflicted on a fetus if the mother becomes intoxicated for four hours or more. The researchers say that a blood alcohol level about twice the legal limit triggers a massive brain cell suicide in the fetal brain, destroying as much as 30 percent of the brain neurons if it happens during a time of crucial brain development.
The study was done on rats, but the writers think the effects are similar in humans. The outcome could be brain disorders, including learning disabilities and memory problems. The critical time, they say, is from the sixth month of pregnancy through the second birthday. The mechanism appears to be an interference with glutamate and GABA neurotransmitters, the lack of which acts as a signal for the cells to self-destruct. Most anesthesias used in pediatric surgeries are thought to have a similar effect.
7. Science, February 2000.
A study from the Mayo Clinic suggests that a positive mental attitude will help you live a longer, fuller life. This 30-year research notes that regardless of age and sex, optimism prolonged life and generally led to more success at work, school and health. Pessimists in the group had a 19 percent greater chance of death during the study. This study puts pessimism on par with high cholesterol and obesity as a risk factor for early death.8
8. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, February 2000.
Heartburn in Babies
When it was discovered that some patients taking a certain heartburn drug were experiencing problems with their heartbeat, warnings appeared in newspapers recommending that patients undergo an EKG first. Anxious parents began calling health officials to ask if this warning also applies to their babies. Unfortunately, officials do not quite know how to respond, since the drug (propulsid) is only approved for use in adults and precious little research has been done on its effect on children.
However, it is known that of the 70 people that the FDA knows died from the drug, 11 were children. It is thought that as many as 20 percent of premature infants are on the drug.9 In Canada, the drug is not permitted to be used to treat premature babies.
9. According to Dr. James Lemons, Indiana University Medical Center, quoted by Associated Press, February 8, 2000.
How Much Sooner Do Smokers Die?
A study of half a million deaths in Ireland reports that tobacco-related diseases kill 6,000 people in Ireland each year. By age 40, smokers have double the chance of dying in any given year compared to nonsmokers. On average, a smoker will die seven years sooner.10
10. Reuters, February 7, 2000.
Anxious Mothers and Anorexia
A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry11 suggests that a strong contributor to anorexia nervosa in teenage girls is the anxiety level of their mothers during pregnancy and the girls' upbringing. Three times as many mothers of the anorexic group in this study had experienced a stillbirth or miscarried pregnancy before giving birth to their daughters. The researchers believe that the mothers projected their anxieties and insecurities onto their offspring, both during pregnancy and childhood. These mothers were also more distressed when their daughters first started nursery school. As the girls grew older, the girls that eventually suffered from anorexia were typically the last ones allowed to spend a night away from home.
11. BJP, February 1, 2000.
Depression Related to Obesity
Researchers from Columbia University in New York12 report that obesity is strongly correlated with major clinical depression in women. In that study of 40,000 people, they found a 37 percent increase in this diagnosis in women (both blacks and whites) who were obese. Obese men, on the other hand, were happier with life (by nearly the same margin); underweight men were far more likely to contemplate or commit suicide than their heftier contemporaries.
12. American Journal of Public Health, February 2000.
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