March 2011

March is Colorectal Cancer Month

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If everyone aged 50 years old or older were screened regularly, as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.   Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer—cancer of the colon or rectum—is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer also is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States.

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older.

Benlysta Approved for Lupus

First new lupus drug approved in 56 years.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  approved Benlysta (belimumab) to treat patients with active, systemic lupus erythematosus who are receiving standard therapy, including corticosteroids, antimalarials, immunosuppressives, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Prior to Benlysta, FDA last approved drugs to treat lupus, Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and corticosteroids, in 1955. Aspirin was approved to treat lupus in 1948.

Protein Helps Pregnancy Proceed

Researchers have identified a key step in the establishment of a pregnancy. The discovery may shed light on fertility disorders and diseases of the uterus, including endometrial cancer.

Closing the Corporate Gender Gap

A higher proportion of women on a company’s board leads to greater opportunities at the executive level for women, according to new research.   Despite continued gains in low- to mid-level management positions, women still struggle to break through the corporate glass ceiling and attain coveted top-management positions. Today, women account for nearly half of the nation’s overall workforce, but hold only 6 percent of corporate CEO and high-level executive roles. New research from the Kellogg School at Northwestern finds that one key to women’s career advancement may lie in the gender makeup of a company’s corporate board.

Multiple Sclerosis Strikes Women More Than Men

Multiple sclerosis (MS) disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body.  In the worst cases, it can bring partial or complete paralysis. Researchers don’t yet know what causes this disease or how to cure it, but they’ve been making progress on both fronts.

Symptoms of MS arise most often between the ages of 20 and 40. It often begins with blurred or double vision, color distortion, or even blindness in one eye. It can cause muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness or tingling, and difficulty with coordination and balance. MS can bring many other symptoms as well.

New Drug Regimen Reduces HIV Spread from Mom to Infant

Pregnant women who are unaware that they have HIV miss the chance for drug treatment that can benefit not only their own health, but could also prevent them from transmitting the virus to their infants. When HIV is not diagnosed until women go into labor, their infants are usually treated soon after birth with the anti HIV drug zidovudine (ZDV), to prevent the infants from becoming infected with the virus.

Now, a National Institutes of Health study has found that adding one or two drugs to the standard ZDV treatment can reduce the chances by more than 50 percent that an infant will develop an HIV infection.

Alcohol Linked to Psoriasis in Women

Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a week — particularly nonlight beer — appear to be at increased risk of developing the skin condition psoriasis.  The cohort study of almost 83,000 nurses — over 1,000 of whom had cases of incident psoriasis — found that among women who consumed 2.3 or more alcoholic drinks per week, the relative risk (the ratio of the risk of disease among those exposed to a risk factor to the risk among those not exposed, in this case a RR >1 indicates that there was a higher risk for psoriasis in the drinking group)  for psoriasis was 1.72 according to Abrar A.