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This Week in Health
June 27, 2014

 

Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

A study published this week says that 3D mammograms find more invasive breast cancers than standard tests. Another study showed that women benefit much more than men from one type of pacemaker for heart failure. U.S. drug regulators issued a warning this week about rare but dangerous reactions to common acne medicines. In a new report, government researchers linked excess alcohol use with 1 out of 10 deaths in U.S. working-age adults. Another new study found a link between hours spent watching TV and death risk for young adults.

Stay well.

This Issue:

3D Tests May Detect More Breast Cancers
Pacemaker May Aid Women More Than Men
FDA Warns of Rare Reactions to Acne Drugs
CDC: Alcohol Linked to 1 in 10 Deaths
Study: TV May Boost Risk of Early Death

 

In the News:

3D Tests May Detect More Breast Cancers
3D mammograms may detect more invasive breast cancers than standard mammograms, a study finds. The Food and Drug Administration approved mammograms that show 3-dimensional images in 2011. The new study looked at about 455,000 routine screening mammograms done at 13 U.S. hospitals. All of the hospitals had switched from standard to 3D digital mammograms soon after their approval. Researchers found that cancer detection rose from 4.2 to 5.4 cancers for every 1,000 women screened. Rates of ductal carcinoma in situ remained unchanged. This type of early cancer often does not spread. The increase occurred among invasive cancers. Detection of these cancers rose 41% with 3-D imaging. At the same time, a 15% drop occurred in the rate of "callback" tests. These are other tests that women receive because of a suspicious result on the initial mammogram. Callback tests can cause anxiety. But, on average, only about 10% find cancer. 3D mammograms cost about $50 to $100 more than 2D tests. Some insurance plans may not cover them. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

Pacemaker May Aid Women More Than Men
A type of pacemaker can help more women with heart failure than men, and yet women are less likely to get the devices, a study finds. Researchers pooled results from 3 earlier studies. They included 3,198 men and 878 women. Normally, both sides of the heart beat (contract) at the same time. Among people in the study, one side of the heart contracted slightly later than the other. The original studies were designed to test pacemakers that help both sides beat at the same time. Success was measured by a reduction in the risk of death or fewer heart-failure events that required a hospital trip or more medicine. Women with the devices had a 60% reduced risk of these events. Men's risk declined 26%. The study also raised questions about who should get these devices. Guidelines say they should be used if the delay between the two sides of the heart is at least 150 thousandths of a second. But women with slightly shorter delays benefited even more from the devices than the overall group. Men with shorter delays did not benefit. The journal JAMA Internal Medicine published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

FDA Warns of Rare Reactions to Acne Drugs
In rare cases, some over-the-counter acne treatments can cause severe or dangerous reactions, U.S. drug regulators said this week. The warning came from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA said 131 cases of severe irritation or allergic reaction have been reported since 1969. The reactions occurred in people using products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These products are applied to the skin. They include such brand names as Proactiv, Neutrogena, MaxClarity, Oxy, Ambi, Aveeno and Clean & Clear, the FDA said. About 42% of the reactions occurred within minutes to 24 hours of use, the agency said. About 40% involved severe allergy symptoms such as throat tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, low blood pressure, fainting, or collapse. Other symptoms included hives, itching and facial swelling. Nearly half of these cases required a hospital stay. There were no deaths. The FDA is asking drug makers to add a caution to labels. The labels will urge people to test the products on a small affected area for 3 days before applying more widely. HealthDay News wrote about the FDA announcement.

 

CDC: Alcohol Linked to 1 in 10 Deaths
About 1 out of 10 deaths of working-age U.S. adults is linked to excess drinking of alcohol, health officials report. The study came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It estimated the number of U.S. deaths attributed to alcohol among adults ages 20 to 64. The study covered the years 2006 through 2010. Excess drinking for a man was defined as more than 14 drinks a week, on average, or more than 4 at one sitting (binge drinking). For women, it was defined as more than 7 drinks a week or more than 3 at one sitting. About 71% of the alcohol-linked deaths were among men. About half of the alcohol-related deaths were linked with binge drinking. Most of these were caused by traffic accidents. The most common long-term condition linked with excess alcohol use was alcoholic liver disease. But researchers told HealthDay News that alcohol use plays a role in at least 54 conditions that can cause death. They include pancreatitis, esophageal cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, falling injuries, suicide and drowning. Alcohol-related death rates varied greatly from state to state. The journal Preventing Chronic Disease published the study this week. HealthDay wrote about it June 26.

 

Study: TV May Boost Risk of Early Death
Spending a lot of time in front of the TV could increase your risk of early death, a new study suggests. The study found this link only for TV watching. There was no increase in death risk for other things that involve sitting -- computer use and driving. The study included more than 13,000 healthy young adults. They were highly educated, slim and active. Their average age was 37. People filled out questionnaires about their activities. In the next 8 years, 97 died. There were 19 deaths from heart disease, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes. For every 2 extra hours daily spent watching TV, the risk of death from heart disease rose 44%. Risk rose 21% for cancer and 55% for other causes. Researchers tried to account for other factors that might have caused the link. They excluded people who died in the first year of the study. They also adjusted numbers to account for people's diet, smoking status, age, sex and weight. The link persisted. But this does not prove that TV watching actually caused the early death. The Journal of the American Heart Association published the study this week HealthDay News wrote about it.

 

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.

 


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