Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lobular Breast Cancer Linked to Paternal Cancer Historyr

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Women with lobular breast cancer are nearly twice as likely as those with other forms of breast cancer to have a father who had cancer, especially prostate cancer, a new study finds.
Swedish researchers examined the family history, pathology reports and hospital records of women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2008. About 40 percent of the women had invasive ductal breast cancer and 8 percent had lobular cancer, which starts in the lobules, the parts of the breast that produce milk.
When they were diagnosed, 21 percent of the breast cancer patients had a mother who'd been diagnosed with cancer and 15 percent had a father who'd been diagnosed with cancer, the investigators found.
After adjusting for a number of factors, the researchers concluded that women with a father who'd been diagnosed with cancer were nearly two times more likely to have lobular breast cancer than any other type of breast cancer, according to the report published in the Nov. 28 online edition of the journal BMC Cancer.
"We also looked at grandparents and other family members, but the increased risk of lobular cancer was directly linked to having a father with cancer. This does not necessarily mean that the daughter of a man diagnosed with cancer is more likely to get lobular breast cancer -- it means that if she develops breast cancer it is more likely to be lobular," study author Carolina Ellberg, of Lund University, said in a journal news release.
Previous research has shown that the risk of breast cancer is higher in women with certain genetic and lifestyle factors, such as having the BRCA2 gene, having a first child at an older age, or the use of hormone replacement therapy.
More information
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

How to Avoid Vaginal Tears

If you’re having a baby, you’ve probably heard the word “tear” and shuddered at the thought that this might happen to you. Yet be rest assured that they’re not only easy to recover from, but quite common—tears that require stitches occur in approximately one third of vaginal deliveries in the United States

“When you have a baby

, particularly for the first time, nothing that large has ever had to stretch the vagina quite so much,” according to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a board-certified OB-GYN and co-author of V is for Vagina.

Read on to find out where and why these tears occur, and what you can do to avoid them.

Where You Might Tear

Tears usually occur around the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus and are classified by severity:

• First-degree tears are superficial and may not even require stitches

• Second-degree tears are more extensive and involve the muscles

• Third-degree tears involve the anal sphincter, which allows the body to involuntarily control the leakage of stool

• A fourth-degree tear, which goes into and through the rectum, is the most severe tear and takes longer to recover from

Sometimes tears happen around the urethra or through the clitoris, in which case, your provider may make a surgical cut in the perineum, also known as an episiotomy, to avoid this from happening.

Why You Might Tear

The likelihood that you will tear often times depends on the size of your baby, the size of your pelvis, and the baby’s position. Having a vacuum or forceps-assisted delivery can also increase your chances and having an episiotomy not only increases your chances, but it can extend an existing tear into the rectum. Although the medical community cautions providers from using these interventions except when medically necessary, it’s a good idea to find out from your provider how often she performs this type of delivery and under what circumstances.

The position you give birth in is also important. Lying flat on your back with your legs pulled back or in stirrups puts too much pressure on the perineum. “If you stretch fabric really tightly, and then you put a force behind it, it would more likely tear than if there’s a little bit more give,” according to Dr. Catherine Ruhl, Director of Women’s Health Programs at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, and a practicing nurse-midwife. Upright positions like standing, squatting or even sitting up in bed are best.

The way you push can also help. Holding your breath during contractions and then pushing as hard as you can, is actually associated with a higher rate of tearing, studies show.

According to Ruhl, even if you’re dilated 10 centimeters, you don’t have to push right away. “Laboring down,” or resting and allowing your contractions to bring the baby farther down the birth canal before pushing can prevent tears. “It’s important for the woman to be in charge and to wait for her to find a real urge to push and then to let her push as she wants,” she says. “This is especially important when a woman has an epidural as the decreased sensation may block her natural urge to push.”

Studies also show that perineal massage during pregnancy, particularly if it’s your first time giving birth, can help.

How to Recover

“The vagina and the vulva are very forgiving places,” according to Dweck who says that because the blood supply is so rich, tears heal quickly. If you need stitches, your provider will most likely use dissolvable ones and using ice packs for the first 24 hours after giving birth can prevent swelling. You’ll also be given a peri bottle with warm water which cleanses your perineum and eases any discomfort when you urinate. Sitting in a sitz bath, a small shallow tub filled with water, draws out excess fluid and relaxes the muscles and using witch hazel pads can help with the swelling. Motrin, Tylenol, or a prescription pain reliever can also help.

Your provider will give you the go ahead to resume normal activity including exercise and sex at your 6 week check-up. Some women who have third and fourth degree tears sometimes experience residual pain or have tissue underneath the skin that doesn’t heal properly. If you’re still having pain after just a few weeks, make an appointment to see your doc.

Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues, a certified Spinning® instructor, and a mom. Learn more about Julie at

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Study Backs Mammogram Screening for Women in Their 40s


In another slap at a 2009 U.S. task force recommendation on mammography, a new study released Tuesday finds that women do indeed benefit from annual mammograms in their 40s – even if they don’t have a family history of breast cancer.
The report – presented to the Radiology Society of America meeting in Chicago – found that women with no family history of breast cancer are just as likely to develop invasive breast cancer as are women with family members who previously had it. The study also found that mammography was effective at discovering possible cancers among women in their 40s.
In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force ignited a firestorm of controversy when it recommended that women not begin routine mammogram screening until age 50. 
The Canadian government just received a recommendation for an even more restrictive policy. For women at 'average risk:' No routine mammograms age 40-49; mammograms every two to three years after age 50; and no routine breast examinations – either by doctors in a clinical settings or breast self-exams by women - are recommended at any age.
Critics of the policies argue that thousands of cancers would be missed in the decade between ages 40 and 50 and that many lives would be lost or put at risk.
Tuesday's report – from the Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Institution in Rochester, N.Y., which specializes in imaging for the detection of breast cancer, looked at 1,071 patients age 40-49 who had breast cancer. 

Here’s what they found:
* 373 of those cancers were detected by mammogram
* Of those, 61 percent of women had no family history of breast cancer
* Among women with no family history, 63.2 percent of the cancers were invasive
The percentage of women with invasive disease (63.2 percent) was literally identical to the numbers among women with a family history (64 percent).
Dr. Stamatia Destounis, radiologist and managing partner of Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, said the benefits of mammography in this age group are clear. 
“We believe this study demonstrates the importance of mammography screening for women in this age group, which is in opposition to the recommendations issued by the task force,” Destounis said.
Destounis, a strong advocate for annual mammography, serves as an investigator for several companies that manufacture breast imaging devices

Read more:

How Does Laptop Wi-Fi Affect Male Fertility?

Man Laptop Trading Stocks Couch Living Room
The digital age has left men's nether parts in a squeeze, if you believe the latest science on semen, laptops and wireless connections.
In a report in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility, Argentinian scientists describe how they got semen samples from 29 healthy men, placed a few drops under a laptop connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi and then hit download.
Four hours later, a quarter of the sperm were no longer swimming around, compared to just 14 percent from semen samples stored at the same temperature away from the computer.
And nine percent of the sperm showed DNA damage, three-fold more than the comparison samples.
The culprit? Electromagnetic radiation generated during wireless communication, say Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba and colleagues.
"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," they write in their report.
"At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect."
A separate test with a laptop that was on, but not wirelessly connected, found negligible EM radiation from the machine alone.
The findings fuel concerns raised by a few other research teams.
Some have found that radiation from cell phones creates feeble sperm in the lab, for example. And last year urologists described how a man's sitting with a laptop balanced on his knees can crank up the temperature of his scrotum to levels that aren't good for sperm. 
So between the heat and the radiation from today's electronic devices, testicles would seem to be hard-pressed.
But that is not at all clear, said Dr. Robert Oates, who has managed to father two kids despite having both a laptop and an iPad.
The president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, Oates told Reuters Health he doesn't believe laptops are a significant threat to male reproductive health.
"This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting," he said about the new study. "It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn't have any human biological relevance."
He added that so far, no study has ever looked at whether laptop use has any influence on fertility or pregnancy outcomes.
"Suddenly all of this angst is created for real-life actual persons that doesn't have to be," said Oates, also of Boston Medical Center.
According to the American Urological Association, nearly one in six couples in the US have trouble conceiving a baby, and about half the time the man is at the root of the problem.
While the impact of modern technology is still murky, lifestyle does matter, researchers say.
Earlier this month, a report in Fertility and Sterility showed that men who eat a diet rich in fruit and grains and low in red meat, alcohol and coffee have a better shot at getting their partner pregnant during fertility treatment. 
"You should be keeping yourself healthy," including staying lean, eating healthy foods, exercising, not taking drugs and not smoking, agreed Oates.
And for those laptop worries, he mused, "I don't know how many people use laptops on their laps anyway."

Read more:

3 Brothers Suffer Heart Attacks on Same Day, Just 1 Survives

Heart attack iStock
Three Italian brothers suffered heart attacks on the same day, killing two of them.
The third was already in the hospital at the time, visiting his elderly mother, and was immediately treated by medics, the Corriere della Sera reported Tuesday.
Guido Garofalo, 45, was the first to succumb while on a family picnic Sunday on the steep slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna volcano. His brother Alberto, 53, was overcome with grief on seeing him drop dead and suffered a cardiac arrest shortly afterward. He died despite the efforts of first responders sent to the scene.
The two victims' older brother Salvatore, 57, remains in stable condition after being treated for a blocked artery at the Garabaldi hospital in Catania, eastern Sicily.
A sister, who lives in Rome, has not been informed of the tragic deaths yet because she suffers from the same congenital heart disease, the paper said.

Read more:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scientists Discover Gene That Allows People to Get by on Four Hours Sleep

Couples Sleeping
German scientists discovered a gene that may explain why some people can get by with as little as four hours sleep a night, while others need much longer.
More than 4,000 people from seven European countries took part in the project, which involved filling out a questionnaire on their sleeping habits.
Scientists from the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich then analyzed their answers, along with their genes.
They found that those people with two copies of one common variant of the gene ABCC9 slept for a significantly shorter period than those with two copies of the other version.
After finding that a similar gene was present in fruit flies, the team—in collaboration with scientists from Leicester University, in central England—managed to modify the function of the gene in the insect, which shortened the length of time it slept.
"It is very encouraging for us that ABCC9 also affects the nocturnal sleep period in flies," according to Till Roenneberg, one of the study authors. "This tells us that the genetic control of sleep duration may well be based on similar mechanisms in a wide range of highly diverse species."

Read more:

Cancer-Fighting Cells Get Boost From Viagra

new viagra
Viagra may provide more than a wake-up to a man's sex life – it may help the body's immune system fight cancer, a new study involving mice suggests.
Scientists in Germany genetically engineered mice to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and found that when these mice were given Viagra in their drinking water, they lived twice as long as untreated mice.
The drug works because it "wakes up" the immune system to fight cancer, said study researcher Viktor Umansky, an immunologist at the German Cancer Research Center, in Heidelberg.
Viagra and cancer
Researchers from John Hopkins University had discovered in 2006 that Viagra (which is drug manufacturer Pfizer's brand name for sildenafil citrate) boosted the activity of T cells in mice with cancer. T cells are part of the immune system, and they fight tumors.
The new study showed how this may work. Most tumors release chemicals that inhibit T cells, but "sildenafil switches off these suppressor cells and wakes up the sleeping T cells," Umansky said.
Umansky used mice that were altered to develop malignant melanoma, mimicking the way the cancer develops in people.
From laboratories to people
Dr. Adam Lerner, a professor of medicine and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study, agreed that the study showed mice "have a stronger immune system under the effects of sildenafil."
Umansky said most current cancer treatments have the effect of tamping down the immune system, and Viagra might offset this effect. But years of further research would be needed before Viagra could become a cancer treatment, he said.

Read more:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday 'Spirits' May Increase Heart Attacks

Holiday season is officially here – just remember, knocking back a few too many cocktails at holiday parties can hurt your heart.
The term for this is “Holiday Heart Syndrome,” and it was coined in 1970s after scientists detected heart rhythm abnormalities in 24 study participants, none of whom had a history of heart disease – but all of whom had drank a few too many drinks.
The scientists observed that the participants’ heart beats were chaotic, irregular and faster than normal.
The scary truth is, December is a peak month for heart attacks, in part due to binge drinking, which can lead to heart attacks and even death, especially among people who already have underlying medical conditions.
When people binge drink, they dehydrate themselves and deplete their bodies of necessary electrolytes. The heart can go into atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of contracting regularly and allow the blood to pool inside the heart.
Then, people sit down for a big meal, and their blood pressure shoots up. In some cases, the heart can’t handle all the strain goes into cardiac arrest.
This can be especially dangerous for people who aren’t necessarily “drinkers,” but choose to imbibe during the holidays, because it can be a shock to their system.
To minimize your risks of a heart attack this season, you should avoid excessive eating and drinking, and try to pre-hydrate the day before a big party. Make sure to get in plenty of sodium and potassium.
Also, be careful with the over-the-counter medications you take. People like to “solve” little ailments with Tylenol or other products that contain acetaminophen and end up taking it like candy.
These medications can build up in the bloodstream and eventually cause liver damage or even failure. The effect is even worse when you take them in combination with alcohol.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season, everyone, and remember – everything in moderation

Read more:

Study: Low-Risk Births Don't Need Hospital

pregnant belly
A new study in England shows little difference in complications among the babies of women with low-risk pregnancies who delivered in hospitals versus those who gave birth with midwives at home or in birthing centers.
Based on the findings, researchers said women with uncomplicated pregnancies in England should be able to choose where they want to give birth — and one expert said about half of all pregnant women here could potentially safely give birth outside a hospital.
But they sounded a note of caution for first-time mothers and their infants, who may face a higher risk if they choose a home birth.
"I would never say women should give birth in a particular place, but hope this gives women more information to make an informed choice," said Dr. Peter Brocklehurst, director of the Institute for Women's Health at University College Hospital in London, one of the paper's lead authors. He conducted the research while at Oxford University.
"Birth isn't an abnormal process, it's a physiological process," he said. "And if your pregnancy and labor is not complicated, then you don't need a high level of specific expertise."
Brocklehurst added that about 50 percent of pregnant women in England — those who are low-risk — should be able to choose where to have their baby.
More than 90 percent of pregnant women in England now give birth in a hospital. Some officials say the new study should prompt women to consider alternatives.
"This is about giving women a choice," said Mary Newburn of NCT, a U.K. charity for parents, one of the study's authors. She said midwife-run birth centers in England have a more homelike environment, with privacy, sofas and birthing pools.
In Britain, midwives deliver more than 60 percent of babies already. Similar care is provided in the Netherlands, where about a quarter of all births happen at home. Elsewhere in Europe, most births are led by doctors, although midwives may also be involved.
In the United States, however, less than one percent of births happen at home. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not support planned home births and warns evidence shows they have a higher risk of newborn death compared to planned hospital births.
The training of midwives in the U.S. varies by state — and some have no regulations.
Brocklehurst and colleagues collected data for nearly 65,000 mothers and babies between 2008 and 2010 in England. Of those, there were 19,706 births in hospital obstetric wards, 16,840 births at home, 11,282 births in "freestanding" midwifery units — independent clinics where there are no doctors or access to anesthetics — and 16,710 births in "alongside" midwifery units, often housed within hospitals.
All the pregnancies were low-risk, meaning the mothers were healthy and carried their baby to term. Women planning C-sections or expecting twins or multiple births were excluded from the study.
In the U.K.'s hospital obstetric wards, most low-risk women don't see a doctor during labor and are only treated by midwives.
There didn't appear to be a difference for the infants' health based on where the mothers planned to give birth.
But researchers found a higher risk for first-time mothers planning a home birth. Among those women, there were 9.3 adverse events per 1,000 births, including babies with brain damage due to labor problems and stillbirth. That compared to 5.3 adverse events per 1,000 births for those planning a hospital birth.
The study was published Friday in the medical journal, BMJ. It was paid for by Britain's department of health and another government health research body.
Dr. Tony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, said his group supports "appropriately selected home birth." He noted the higher risk of problems among first-time mothers choosing a home birth and said that raised questions about where they should deliver.
For Emily Shaw of London, giving birth in a hospital wasn't appealing. She wanted home births for both her sons but because her first baby was induced into labor, she had to deliver him in a hospital in October 2008.
Shaw delivered her second son at home in April. "I felt much more comfortable there," she said. "Instead of getting into a car to go to the hospital, the midwives came to me."
"It was nice to have the home comforts during labor," she added, saying she could eat in her own kitchen and use her own bathroom. "And unlike the hospital, they didn't kick out my partner in the middle of the night."

Read more:

Friday, November 25, 2011

7 easy ways to boost your immune system

Image: Sick woman

Get ready for cold and flu season by eating right, exercising and limiting booze


Your body’s immune system is more powerful than you probably imagine. How powerful, you ask? Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania recently took immune cells from three patients with leukemia, then genetically altered them into “serial killer” cells, designed to attack one tumor cell, then another and another. The study was small and the treatment experimental, but the results were groundbreaking—two patients went into complete remission, and the other had a dramatic antitumor response. The modified immune system cells multiplied at least 1,000 times in the body, wiped out cancer cells, and stimulated a population of “memory” cells that may protect against recurrences.
Could this treatment work for other types of cancer? Maybe. Much, much (much) more research is needed, but this study suggests that with the right kind of prodding, your immune system can fight ridiculously hard-to-battle toplady killersand keep you healthy. Granted, gene therapy ispretty serious prodding, but there are relatively simple steps you should take every day to strengthen your immune system, especially as we head into the sniffle season. Some of the best:
1. Eat lean protein at every meal. No one food will magically fend off the flu, but certain nutrients take the lead in helping protect your body from billions of bacteria, viruses, and other germs—and protein is one of them. One of the reasons is that the antibodies that help fight disease are actually made of protein. Another reason: Many foods high in protein also contain other immune-boosting nutrients. Lean cuts of beef and pork, as well as protein from beans, soy, and seafood (particularly oysters and crab), contain zinc—a mineral that helps up the production of infection-fighting white blood cells; even mild zinc deficiencies can increase your susceptibility to infections. Nuts, like almonds and cashews, are also good sources of protein, as well as magnesium, both of which help support a healthy immune system.

20 Heart-Healthy Comfort Foods

2. Shoot for 5 cups of fruits and veggies a day. Almost any kind is good, but if you’re going to pick and choose, opt for the ones rich in vitamins A, C, and E. Here’s why: Vitamin A (which you get from sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens) helps white blood cells fight off infections more effectively; it also helps regulate the immune system. Citrus fruits (like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit), as well as bell peppers, papayas, and broccoli, contain vitamin C, which improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system protect against disease. And vitamin E, found in nuts, seeds, and turnip greens, has been shown in scientific studies to combat flu and upper respiratory infections. If you eat a variety of greens (and oranges and yellows and reds) as part of a balanced diet, you’ll get all the good stuff you need to help fight disease. Taking a multivitamin or mineral supplement may help in some cases, but talk to your doctor—sometimes too-high doses of certain minerals can cause imbalances and actually suppress your immune response.

25 Best Foods For Your Health

3. Take a 10-minute walk a few times a day. Getting a total of 20 to 30 minutes of daily physical activity can bolster many defenses of the immune system. Exercise gets antibodies and white blood cells moving through the body faster, so they may detect illnesses sooner; plus, an increase in circulation may also trigger the release of hormones that “warn” immune cells of intruding pathogens. Keep your workouts moderate; high-intensity activity, such as a marathon running or intense gym training, could actually decrease the amount of white blood cells circulating through the body and up your risk of illness.

14 Fat-Blasting Walking Workouts

4. Get your vitamin D levels checked. About 50 nmol/L is generally enough to maintain overall health; less than 30 nmol/L is too low for most people. New research suggests vitamin Dcould boost immune response, and too-low levels may be linked to an increase in seasonal colds and flu. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D, which we can get from the sun and very few foods. Talk to your doctor; you may need a supplement to boost your numbers.

Slash Your Risk Of Heart Disease 92 percent

5. Reduce your stress levels. Do yoga, play with your dog, listen to music—find ways to chill out because research shows stressalters how well your immune system works. Preliminary research published in the journal Biological Psychiatryexamined two groups of people—caregivers of family members with cancer and individuals without that type of stress. The scientists found something goes awry in the caregivers’ white blood cells, leaving them less responsive to inflammation and raising their risk of illness.

Slim Down With Yoga

6. Cook with olive and canola oils. These contain healthy fats, which act as a lubricant for cells. This lubricant improves flexibility and communication between the cells, which promotes immune function. Just be careful that you’re not consuming too many omega-6 fats in the meantime: Research shows that people who consume disproportionately more 6s (found in the soybean oil used in most processed snack foods) than 3s are at higher risk for inflammation and immune system problems.

12 Ways To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

7. Limit your drinks. One is okay for most people, two is fine for some, but drinking any more could suppress the immune system. New research out of Brown University showed excessive alcohol consumption is toxic to immune system cells called dendritic cells, which play a critical role in helping seek and destroy invading microbes. This could lead to serious, and even life-threatening, infections, not to mention increased vulnerability to the cold and flu virus.

et ready for cold and flu season by eating right, exercising and limiting booze.