With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, nothing could be more important than increasing awareness about the importance of mammograms. How often should women get a mammogram? Guidelines differ, but a new study estimates thousands of U.S. lives could be saved if mammograms were done every year from age 40 to 84.
Hendrick and his colleagues used computer modeling to assess the three major mammogram recommendations: annual screening from age 40 to 84; annual screening at ages 45 to 54, then every other year from 55 to 79; or every other year from 50 to 74. The researchers estimated how many lives would be saved if every U.S. woman born in 1960 followed one of the three recommendations each year.
Deaths from breast cancer would fall by an average of 40 percent with annual screenings from 40 to 84, the investigators reported. By comparison, breast cancer mortality would decline 31 percent with screening until age 79. And it would drop 23 percent with every-other-year mammography from 50 to 74, which is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
“Screening annually starting at age 40 is the best strategy to avert an early breast cancer death,” said study co-author R. Edward Hendrick, a radiology professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about scheduling your yearly mammogram.
Scientists have created healthy offspring from genetically infertile male mice, offering a potential new approach to tackling a common genetic cause of human infertility.
Our sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. Usually, girls have two X chromosomes (XX) and boys have one X and one Y (XY), but approximately 1 in 500 boys are born with an extra X or Y. Having three rather than two sex chromosomes can disrupt formation of mature sperm and cause infertility.
In a study published in Science, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have found a way to remove the extra sex chromosome to produce fertile offspring. If the findings can be safely transferred into humans, it might eventually be possible for men with Klinefelter syndrome (XXY) or Double Y syndrome (XYY) who are infertile to have children through assisted reproduction using this technique.
“Our approach allowed us to create offspring from sterile XXY and XYY mice,” says first author Takayuki Hirota from the Francis Crick Institute. “It would be interesting to see whether the same approach could one day be used as a fertility treatment for men with three sex chromosomes.”
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Each year, approximately 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and close to 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality rates have declined by 35 percent since 1989, largely due to increased awareness of the disease and earlier screening and detection procedures.
You can also make a difference by signing up for the Point Pleasant Beach walk on Sunday, October 15. The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting more than 300 communities to finish the fight.
You can learn more about the walk and sign up here.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are asking you to help. During this annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, the National Breast Cancer Foundation offers the following ideas to help the help women in need:
- Download their free breast health guide.
- Host a fundraising event, in person or online.
- Make a financial donation.
- Share educational content on your favorite social media platforms.
- Watch their video, Navigating Breast Cancer, to learn more about how they are helping women.
Visit their web site to learn more.
A review of studies on the effects of stress, chemicals and fetal development has found that stress increases the risk that exposure to toxic chemicals in pregnancy will lead to low birth weight in babies.
“It appears that stress may amplify the health effects of toxic chemical exposure, which means that for some people, toxic chemicals become more toxic,” said senior author Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, reviewed 17 human and 22 animal studies and found that several toxic chemicals commonly found in the environment had a much greater impact on pregnant women if they had high levels of stress. Smoking was particularly affected; women under high stress who smoked were about twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby as low-stress smokers. The effects of air pollution were also magnified by stress.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about stress reduction if needed.
A study of more than 9,000 mothers and their children found that moms who overdid it with sweets during pregnancy raised the risk that their kids developed asthma and allergies.
The researchers found that the children of mothers with the highest sugar intake during pregnancy were 38 percent more likely to have an allergy by the age of 7, and 73 percent more likely to have two or more allergies to common allergens such as grass, cats and dust mites. They also had twice the odds for allergic asthma as children born to moms with the lowest sugar intake.
These results, published in the European Respiratory Journal, were consistent even when the kids’ own sugar intake was accounted for.
“We cannot say on the basis of these observations that a high intake of sugar by mothers in pregnancy is definitely causing allergy and allergic asthma in their offspring,” lead researcher Seif Shaheen, a professor at Queen Mary University of London, said in a news release. “However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency.”
There is strong evidence that breast-feeding can reduce women’s risk of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancers. That’s the conclusion of a review of the latest scientific research on breast cancer, conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
The report reviewed 18 studies on lactation and breast-feeding, including 13 that evaluated the effect of length of breast-feeding, and found that for every five months of breast-feeding duration, there is a 2 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
The report suggests several possible explanations for how breast-feeding lowers breast cancer risk. One reason is that lactation delays when women start menstruating again after giving birth. This reduces lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen, which are linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Another reason is that, after lactation, the breast sheds a lot of tissue, during which it may also get rid of cells with damaged DNA, which can give rise to cancer. And lactation may change the expression of genes in breast cells in a way that exerts a “lasting impact” on the risk of cancer development.
Many health organizations recommend that babies are breast-fed exclusively for up to six months before introducing other foods. Not only does breast milk provide infants with essential nutrients, it also boosts their immune system and helps to protect them from infection and asthma.
“It isn’t always possible for moms to breast-feed but for those who can, know that breast-feeding can offer cancer protection for both the mother and the child,” said Alice Bender, director of nutrition programs for the AICR. “With the many benefits of breast-feeding, it’s important that new moms get support to successfully breast-feed for longer than a few days or weeks.”
Pregnant mothers who failed to control their asthma during pregnancy put their child at increased risk of developing the disease at a young age. A new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggests that “maintaining asthma control during pregnancy is an area for possible prevention of asthma in future generations,” lead author Xiaoqin Liu said.
Researchers looked at data from nearly 7,200 children born to mothers with active asthma during pregnancy. Those born to mothers who had mild controlled asthma were less likely to be diagnosed with asthma at an early age than those whose moms had mild uncontrolled asthma, moderate-to-severe controlled asthma, or moderate-to-severe uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy, the study found.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in pregnant women. In most cases, they should manage the respiratory condition through the use of medication in the same way as women who aren’t pregnant, according to the study authors. However, previous research indicates that one-quarter of women with asthma don’t take prescribed asthma medications during pregnancy, and rates of poor inhaler technique range from 41 to 54 percent.
Poor asthma control is a risk factor “that potentially can be targeted in clinical practice and intervened upon,” Liu said. If you have asthma, work closely with your doctors to keep it under control during your pregnancy.
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William Ziegler, DO, FACOG
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