Trending News Today: Value of Mammograms Questioned by Researchers

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Senior citizens who engage in exercise reap major benefits for their health, a new study found. The study included sedentary men and women between the ages of 70 and 89, who were at a high risk of mobility problems and had some difficulties with daily activities; however, they were still able to walk a quarter-mile without assistance, reported Kaiser Health News. Half of the group took 26 weekly health education classes followed by monthly seminars, while the other half spent about an hour engaging in physical activity at a clinic twice a week, followed by at-home exercises. The results of the study showed that the group who focused on walking, strength, and balance exercises were 25% less likely to have significant issues with mobility compared with the group that focuses on education for a period of almost 3 years. Furthermore, these patients were found to recover faster from episodes of being unable to walk, and were less likely to have issues moving around after the recovery period.

A new study found that through widespread screening for breast cancer, a majority of women diagnosed with the disease get unnecessary treatment, according to the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the value of mammograms as a life-saving tool has been significantly overstated, and that the development of more effective treatments should take most of the credit for the improvement in breast cancer survival rates. Researchers stated that physicians, activists, and the media have all contributed to the overstatement of mammography value. For 2016, it’s expected that physicians in the United States will diagnose 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer, including 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer, the article notes. However, in the analysis of data from the National Cancer Institute, the findings suggest that a majority of the abnormalities that are picked up through screenings would likely never become deadly if left alone.

During an experiment, researchers were able to use the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to correct a tiny genetic mutation that causes sickle cell disease, reported the Los Angeles Times. Although this has only been demonstrated in human cells in laboratory dishes, researchers were able to use the DNA editing technique to alter human cells that were transfused in mice. After 16 weeks, the mice still had cells that contained the edited gene. Researchers hope that the gene editing tool can provide physicians with the ability to remove a patient’s stem cells, alter their DNA in the lab, and then place the cells back into the patient’s body where they will produce indefinite healthy red blood cells. Sickle cell disease is a blood disease that affects millions of people, reported the Times.