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Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Health’

With all the effort being put into breast cancer awareness, there are bound to be myths and misconceptions about the nature of breast cancer and how it affects people.

Here is a list of seven such myths:

  1. Myth: A lump in the breast always means cancer.
  2. Myth: Mammograms may cause cancer to spread.
  3. Myth: There’s no history of breast cancer in my family, so I won’t get it.
  4. Myth: Having a mastectomy is the best way to cure breast cancer and prevent it from coming back.
  5. Myth: Young women are just as likely to get breast cancer as older women.
  6. Myth: Breast cancer is fatal.
  7. Myth: Men don’t get breast cancer.

For every one of these myths is a truth, but you will have to go check out the source to get those answers.

Remember, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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It has been known for a long time that there is a connection between dense breast tissue and an increased risk of developing breast cancer, but only recently have researchers begun to understand why.

Breast tissue is composed of several different types of cells which create different structures. There is the epithelium, consisting of duct cells and milk glands, the stroma, which is the connective tissue for the epithelial cells, and fat.

The 60 women who participated in the Mayo Clinic study were healthy with no history of breast cancer. Their breast tissue was biopsied to determine the difference in cellular composition between dense and non-dense tissue.

Results are now available from more than half of the participants who donated biopsy tissue. Dr. Ghosh found that areas of density contained much more epithelium (6 percent) and stroma (64 percent) and much less fat (30 percent), compared to non-dense tissue that contained less than 1 percent epithelium, about 20 percent stroma, and almost 80 percent fat. “This shows us that both the epithelium and stroma contribute to density, and suggests that the large difference in stroma content in dense breast tissue may play a significant role in breast cancer risk,” Dr. Ghosh says.

Another study took these results a step further:

In a second study, researchers also found that dense breast tissue has more aromatase enzyme than non-dense tissue. This is significant because aromatase helps convert androgen hormones into estrogen, and estrogen is important in breast cancer development, says that study’s lead investigator, Celine Vachon, Ph.D.

“If aromatase is differentially expressed in dense and non-dense breast tissue, this could provide one mechanism by which density may increase breast cancer risk,” Dr. Vachon says.

The researchers have found some strong links thus far, but they are recruiting more women for a second study to validate their findings.

“These are initial findings from one of the first attempts to study breast density at the level of healthy tissue. It doesn’t explain everything yet, but is providing really valuable insights,” says Dr. Ghosh, who established the patient resource for both studies.

Drs. Ghosh and Vachon are finishing their analysis of the initial 60 volunteers, and they are also enrolling more participants in order to validate and expand their findings. “No one knows why density increases breast cancer risk, but we are attempting to connect the dots,” Dr. Vachon says.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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About A Girl

The death of Natalie Morton at 14 years old is a tragic and cautionary tale.

She died within hours of receiving Cervarix, the HPV1 vaccine. Following the rule obeyed by the general public that correlation = causation, a huge outcry blaming the vaccine began making the rounds. This was undoubtedly fueled in part by those groups and individuals dedicated to eliminating vaccines altogether.

The National Health Service in England took a cautionary approach and suspended use of the vaccine until they could complete and investigation. The real medical professionals were betting that a batch of vaccines had become tainted somehow.

So far, 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) received 2,137 reports of suspected side effects of Cervarix between April 14, 2008 and September 23 this year.

The total number of suspected reactions is 4,657.

In total, there were 575 reports relating to side effects at the site of the injection, such as swelling and extreme pain, and another 241 allergic reactions, such as rash, swollen face and swollen lips.

A total of 455 reports were linked to ‘psychogenic effects’ such as nausea, panic attacks and fainting while 955 were other recognised effects like headache and sickness.

A total of 330 reports were suspected reactions not currently recognised, such as palpitations, blurred vision, chest pain and flu-like illness.

The MHRA said on September 23 that the balance of risks and benefits of Cervarix remains positive.

Globally, many vaccine doses have been administered and no deaths are directly related to the vaccine.

Gardasil, an HPV vaccination (though different than the one the girl in England received), has been given to over 7 million girls, yet there have been only 20 deaths after getting the shot… and for almost all of them there is no obvious relation between the shot and the fatality except for timing. In other words, they were tragic coincidences.

The story concludes on the following note:

“The pathologist has confirmed today at the opening of the inquest into the death of Natalie Morton that she died from a large malignant tumor of unknown origin in the heart and lungs,” said Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for the Coventry area where Natalie died.

“There is no indication that the HPV vaccine, which she had received shortly before her death, was a contributing factor to the death, which could have arisen at any point,” Grainger said in a statement.

It was a terrible coincidence of timing. Our deepest condolences go out to her friends and family.

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Smoking still kills more men than women, because men started smoking substantial numbers of cigarettes long before women did. But, because so many men have now quit, male death rates from smoking are decreasing in many European countries where female death rates from smoking are still increasing. Taking men and women together, smoking causes about 0.7 million deaths per year in the 27 countries of the present European Union, including 0.3 million deaths per year before age 70 (more than one of five of all deaths before age 70). Those killed by tobacco before age 70 lose, on average, about 23 years of life (and those killed by tobacco at older ages lose, on average, about 8 years).

We are all for equality between the sexes, but this is not quite what we had in mind.

Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford, UK, said “In Western Europe tobacco causes more premature deaths than anything else does, and among both men and women about a quarter of those who smoke throughout adult life will be killed by tobacco before they are old, unless they can manage to stop smoking.”

There are solutions which make quitting tobacco far easier than it once was. Eating a healthy diet can make cigarettes seem less appealing. If the nicotine cravings are too difficult to beat then invest in an e-cigarette so you can get your fix without the cancer.

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When women eat with men or in mixed gender groups they tend to choose food with significantly lower caloric value than would if dining alone or exclusively with other women. The study, conducted by Meredith Young, a PhD candidate at McMaster University, has an explanation:

The diet industry targets female consumers and product advertisements typically depict very slim models rather than average-sized or overweight female models, she says, so food choices appear to be weighed against how other perceive them. In other words, smaller, healthier portions are seen as more feminine, and women might believe that if they eat less they will be considered more attractive to men.”It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive,” says Young.

Men eat what they want regardless of whom they are dining with.

As for men’s food selections, the study showed that men were neither substantially affected by the number of nor the gender of their dining companions.

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According to the study’s lead author, Wendy Troxel, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, women who were stably married had the highest quality sleep measured objectively and subjectively, and these results persisted even after controlling for other known risk factors for sleep, including age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and depressive symptoms.

Well, ladies, what are you waiting for?

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Can someone’s personality have an effect on their overall health and longevity? It seems that the answer is “yes”, since a connection between being an extrovert and having low levels of interleukin 6, an inflammatory chemical, has been discovered.

…extraversion is a personality trait with three parts: a tendency toward happy thoughts, a desire to be around others and “dispositional energy,” a sense of innate vigor or active engagement with life (“I’m bursting with energy; my life is fast-paced”).

While the first two extrovert qualities were not found to track with inflammation, the current study found increases in “dispositional activity” came with statistically significant decreases in IL-6 (p = .001). P values measure the weight that should be attributed to a finding, with values less than .05 usually deemed significant.

On average, women and minorities have higher levels than white males. Chemicals such as interleukin 6 increase in concentration as result of stress. Long term exposure to various sources of stress takes a toll on an individual’s organs and can result in poor health and early death.

“If this aspect of personality drives inflammation, dispositional energy and engagement with life may confer a survival advantage,” Chapman said. “But we don’t know if low dispositional activity is causing inflammation, or inflammation is taking its toll on people by reducing these personality tendencies, so we must be cautious in our interpretation of this association.”

A cynic may look at all the data and simply conclude that an extroverted personality is one which participates in the world, meaning, someone who likely getting plenty of exercise and doing physical activity. There is a strong connection between proper exercise and longer, healthier life, so everyone could gain these benefits by getting fit.

“Beyond physical activity, some people seem to have this innate energy separate from exercise that makes them intrinsically involved in life,” Chapman said. “It will be fascinating to investigate how we can increase this disposition toward engagement.

Of course, there’s probably more to it.

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