WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH
Breast Cancer Can Come from Both ParentsWhen most women are screened for breastcancer, they make sure they indicate any incidenceof breast cancer in their mother's familyline. They may not realize that breast cancer fromtheir father's side can also contribute to their riskfor the disease. A new study has found thatwomen often report fewer paternal cases ofbreast cancer than maternal ones, even thoughthe numbers are about the same, thereby underestimatingtheir actual cancer risk. The findingswere published in the September 2006 issue ofthe American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers looked at the results of an earlierstudy, in which over 800 women who did not havebreast cancer at the time were questioned abouttheir family's cancer history. About 16% reportedbreast cancer on their mother's side, but only 10%reported it from their father's side. The researchersfear that this misinformation could mean suboptimalaccuracy in genetic cancer screening in women.
C-sections Linked to Higher Rates of Infant Death
Researchers at the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention havefound that the mortality rate of infantsborn via voluntary Cesarean delivery(C-section) is higher than for those bornvia vaginal delivery. The rate for C-sectionsis 1.77 deaths per 1000 live births,while the rate for vaginal delivery is0.62 deaths per 1000 live births. It hadbeen assumed that the differenceswere due to the higher risk profile ofmothers who had the surgery, but thestudy involved low-risk mothers whohad no known medical reason toundergo the procedure.
The researchers analyzed data fromover 5.7 million live births and about12,000 infant deaths from 1998 to 2001.Of these births, 311,927 were by C-sections.They found that babies delivered byC-section had more than twice the risk ofneonatal mortality than those deliveredvaginally, even after adjusting for socioeconomicand medical risk factors.
The rate of C-sections in the UnitedStates increased from 20.7% in 1996 to29.1% in 2004. According to theNational Center for Health Statistics,almost 1.2 million live births in theUnited States in 2004 were by C-section.The results of the study were publishedin the September 2006 edition ofBirth: Issues in Perinatal Care.
Alternative Treatments for Menopause Not Effective
Almost 50% of American women going through menopauseseek relief of symptoms through alternative or complementarytreatments.A systematic review of some of these therapies,however, shows that there is little evidence that any of themwork. Researchers reviewed data from 70 randomized controlledtrials of alternative treatments. They found insufficientscientific evidence to support the effectiveness of any of themost commonly used remedies, including herbs, mind-bodytechniques, magnets, homeopathy, naturopathy, or culturallybased non-Western medical treatments.
One study compared 56 patients who consumed a soydrink to relieve their menopausal symptoms with 55patients who drank a medically inactive beverage. Thestudy showed no difference between the 2 groups. Thescientists also compared 9 studies of mind-body therapies,and, although the therapies varied in quality, nonewere found to be better than placebo treatments. In 6trials of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, none wereshown to produce a significant benefit over controls formenopausal symptoms. The results of the analysis werepublished in the July 24, 2006, issue of the Archives ofInternal Medicine.
Drinking While Pregnant Increases Child's Risk of Alcohol Disorders
Mothers who drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages at any one timeduring their pregnancy increase the risk of their child developing analcohol disorder by the time the child turns 21. Researchers haveknown that maternal drinking has been linked to difficulties in thinking,learning, and memory, as well as mental and behavioral problems inaffected children. They wanted to assess the risk of alcohol disorderdevelopment in the children of women who drank during their pregnancies.The results were published in the September 2006 issue of theArchives of General Psychiatry.
Researchers from the University of Queensland, Herston, Australia,studied a group of 7223 mothers who were interviewed at their first prenatalvisits between 1981 and 1984. The mothers and their children wereassessed at birth; 6 months; and 5, 14, and 21 years. Only 2555 childrencompleted the assessment at 21 years, and of these, 640 met criteria foran alcohol disorder; 333 of these reported developing the disorder beforeage 18 and 307 between ages 18 and 21. It was found that those participantswhose mothers drank more than 3 glasses of alcohol on any oneoccasion during early pregnancy were 2.47 times more likely to developan early-onset alcohol disorder (before age 18) and 2.04 times more likelyto develop a late-onset disorder (between ages 18 and 21).