Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Research news this week covered a wide variety of topics. One found that a drug some high-risk women take to prevent breast cancer may also weaken bones. Other studies found that people in first class don't have fewer blood clots on long flights and that tai chi may help people with Parkinson's disease. Two surveys dealt with topics related to smoking. One showed that many kids ride in cars with smokers. The other found that smokers go to the dentist less than other people and have more dental problems.
This Issue: Breast-Preserving Drug May Weaken Bones Experts: Cheap Seats Don't Raise Clot Risk Tai Chi May Be Good for Parkinson's CDC: Many Kids Ride in Cars with Smokers Fewer Dental Visits, More Problems among Smokers
In the News:
Breast-Preserving Drug May Weaken Bones
A drug that helps to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women also may increase age-related bone thinning, research published this week finds. An earlier study of 4,500 women found that exemestane was effective in preventing breast cancer. It was published last year. Women in that study were at high risk of breast cancer because their mothers or sisters had the disease. The new study focused on 351 women in the larger study. The women did not have osteoporosis. This disease increases the risk of fracture because bones lose density and become brittle. The women did take calcium and vitamin D pills to help preserve bone health. After taking exemestane for 2 years, the women had decreases in bone density in the hip and spine. A more sophisticated test found that women taking the drug lost at least 3 times as much bone in the wrist and ankle as those who received fake pills in the study. The journal Lancet Oncology published the study. Canadian Press wrote about it.
Experts: Cheap Seats Don't Raise Clot Risk
Sitting in coach class doesn't increase your risk of a blood clot after a long flight, an expert group says. Some people have called these clots "economy class syndrome." But people in first class have about the same risk, guidelines published this week say. The guidelines come from the American College of Chest Physicians. They include advice on preventing deep vein thrombosis. This type of clot occurs in the leg. It is more common after a long flight or another long period without movement. The guidelines also cover prevention of clots in the lungs and in arteries. The risk of deep vein thrombosis is very low, the guidelines say. The average risk is 1 out of 1,000 people each year. That risk doubles on flights of at least 8 hours. But you can help prevent these clots if you get up and move around on the flight. Some people have a greater risk. They include people who have had recent surgery or take birth control pills. People with a high risk should wear compression stockings during long flights, the guidelines say. The journal Chest published the guidelines. The Associated Press wrote about them.
Tai Chi May Be Good for Parkinson's
Practicing tai chi may help people with Parkinson's disease improve their movement and balance and reduce their risk of falls. In a new study, tai chi provided more benefits than two other exercise programs. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese art that involves slow, controlled movements. The study included 195 people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. This disease causes tremors and problems with movement and balance. People in the study were randomly divided into 3 groups. They were assigned to do tai chi, resistance exercise or stretching. Sessions were an hour each, twice a week. The program lasted 24 weeks. The tai chi group showed more improvements than the other groups in balance, control of movement, and the length and speed of people's stride when walking. In other measurements, such as reducing falls, the tai chi group did better than the stretching group and as well as the resistance group. The improvements lasted at least 3 months after the program ended. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
CDC: Many Kids Ride in Cars with Smokers
About 1 out of 5 older children rides regularly in a car where someone is smoking, a survey published this week finds. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did the study. It was based on national surveys done at public and private middle and high schools. Students were asked how often in the last week they rode in a car where someone was smoking. The most common answer was 1 or 2 days during the week. The numbers, from 2009, are about half of the 2 out of 5 students who reported riding with smokers in 2000. But CDC researchers said too many kids are still exposed. The CDC says there's no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It can lead to breathing problems and increase allergy symptoms. Several states have banned smoking in cars when children are riding in them. The researchers said more such laws are needed. The journal Pediatrics published the study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Fewer Dental Visits, More Problems among Smokers
Smokers have more dental problems and go to the dentist less often than people who don't smoke, a government survey finds. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the survey results this week. Answers were collected from more than 16,000 adults. Among the smokers, 1 out of 3 reported having at least 3 dental problems. These included jaw pain, toothaches and infected gums. That was double the rate among people who had never smoked. About 1 out of 5 smokers had not been to a dentist in at least 5 years, compared with 1 out of 10 nonsmokers. Half of the smokers said they couldn't afford to see a dentist. They cited that reason much more often than nonsmokers who didn't go to the dentist. Prior CDC research has found low-income Americans are much more likely to smoke. The Associated Press wrote about the survey.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.