WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH

Published Online: Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mastectomies on the Rise

More women may be moving toward a mastectomy because of new techniques for detecting breast cancer. Researchers attribute the shift to the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that is able to detect more possible cancerous growth, compared with mammography. The use of MRI scans began increasing around 2003.

The study looked at >5400 women who had the surgery at the Mayo Clinic from 1997 to 2006. The women who chose mastectomy over lumpectomy dropped to 30% in 2003 from 45% in 1997. The rate rose, however, in 2006 to 43%. The findings, presented at the May 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, found that, among women having breast surgery from 2003 to 2006, 52% who had an MRI prior to the operation chose mastectomy, compared with 38% of the women who did not have the test, according to a study author Matthew P. Goetz, MD.

The researchers noted that the mastectomy rate rose after 2003 even among patients who had not had an MRI. Dr. Goetz said that other factors involved in the increase may include improved techniques for breast reconstruction and genetic testing to identify women likely to have a recurrence.




Race Does Not Affect Incontinence

Black women are less prone than white women to have bladder control problems. When they do, however, the condition tends to be worse.

The study included 1922 black women and 892 white women from 3 Michigan counties who were surveyed over the phone. The researchers found that urinary incontinence was approximately half as common among black women, compared with white women. The results showed that black women had worse symptoms, reporting greater amounts of urine leakage attributed to urge incontinence. White women more often had stress incontinence, however. The findings were reported recently in The Journal of Urology.




Vitamin D Deficiency, Back Pain Linked

Women aged 65 and older may be at risk for back pain if they do not get enough vitamin D, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (May 2008).

To investigate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and its association with a number of health problems, the researchers looked at the blood levels of vitamin D in 958 individuals. The study group included 58% of the women and 27% of the men who had atleast some moderate pain in at least one region of the body.

The results indicated no relationship between vitamin D levels and pain in men. Women with vitamin D deficiency, however, were almost twice as likely to have back pain that was moderate or worse, but vitamin D status was not associated with pain in other parts of the body.




Quit Smoking, Live Longer

New research gives women another reason to quit smoking. The findings, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 7, 2008), indicated that women who stop smoking have a 21% lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease within 5 years of putting out their last butt.

The data are a continued follow-up on the Nurses? Health Study. The research showed that current smokers had almost 3 times the risk of overall mortality, compared with women who never smoked. Women who began smoking earlier in life faced greater risk of death from respiratory disease and from any smoking-related disease.

A smoker?s risk of dying returned to the level of a nonsmoker 20 years after quitting. The overall risk dropped 13% within the first 5 years of quitting. A majority of the excess risk of dying from coronary heart disease disappeared with 5 years of abstaining.




Leisure Activities May Keep Depression at Bay

A survey of 1501 women found that leisure-time activity weekly may stave off depression. Of the participants, 30% had depression symptoms. The amount of exercise women got (eg, on the job, doing housework) did not affect their mood. Some social factors did, however.

Women who were discouraged from exercising were more prone to depression, compared with women who exercised with a family member. The participants who reported at least 3.5 hours a week of leisure-time activity were less prone to depression, and vigorous activity appeared to have a more powerful effect.

The women who reported being persuaded against exercising were more likely to be depressed. The depression risk was even greater with the frequency the women were discouraged from exercising, reported the researchers in the online May 6, 2008, issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

F A S T   F A C T : A baby girl born in the United States in 2004 could expect to live 80.4 years.




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