August 2011

Reasons unknown why black women have poorer survival for breast cancer

It is still a mystery why black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than whites, according to a new study that shows the racial disparity can’t be chalked up to obesity differences.

As a group, black women in the U.S. tend to be heavier than whites and researchers had thought that might explain why only 78 percent survive five years after diagnosis, compared to 90 percent of white women.

A simple reason to exercise

A healthy heart is like a rubber band. The more elastic it is, the better it works. A new study by Benjamin Levine at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas shows lifelong exercise can help your heart stay that way.

While starting to exercise late in life has its benefits, Dr. Levine says:  “You don’t want to wait too long if you want to try to make these major structural changes.”

Gender-specific differences in obesity

Why are some people obese while others are lean? Obese people must make poor eating choices, but could there be a physiological basis for those poor choices? A new study reveals that obese and lean people make decisions about short-term versus long-term rewards differently and have physical differences in their brains. Surprisingly, some of these behavioral and physical differences are found only in women.

Do you have ringing in your ears?

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing in the ears, but some people also hear it as a roaring, clicking, hissing or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, and it might affect both of your ears or only one. For some people, it’s a minor annoyance. For others, it can interfere with sleep and grow to be a source of mental and emotional anguish.

No sunscreens are “waterproof”

Even if sunscreens say they’re waterproof, they’re not. Sunscreens can wash off with sweat, or just being in the water. When this happens, their sun protection washes off, too, leaving users at greater risk for burns, premature skin aging and possibly even skin cancer.

So the Food and Drug Administration has set new rules to help people know what they’re getting and when to use it. FDA dermatologist Jill Lindstrom:

“Sunscreens may only use the term `water resistant,’ and must clearly indicate how long water resistance actually lasts.’’

Spacing babies good for mom and baby

Initiation of contraception during the postpartum period (time immediately after giving birth) is important to prevent unintended pregnancy and short birth intervals, which can lead to negative health outcomes for mother and infant (1).  Recently, Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) assessed evidence regarding the safety of combined hormonal contraceptive use during the postpartum period.  These updated recommendations state that postpartum women should not use combined hormonal contraceptives (i.e., those that contain both estrogen and progestin) during the first 21 days after delivery because of the high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE or

What is a Bad Air Day?

In many parts of the U.S., summer has the worst air quality of any season. This is true for many of the industrialized nations.  When the forecast says it’s a code red day for air quality, what does it mean for your health? If you’ve planned a picnic, a bike ride or even a walk with a friend, should you change your plans?

“The answer depends on a lot of factors. There’s no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer for everyone,” says Dr. Darryl Zeldin, acting clinical director of environmental health sciences at National Institutes of Health. He and other researchers have been studying how substances in the air can affect health.