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Screening helps prevent cervical cancer in older women

Research from Queen Mary University of London reveals women over the age of 50 who don't attend cervical screening are four times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer in later life.

The study, published in PLoS Medicine and funded by Cancer Research UK, underlines the importance of screening women over 50 for cervical cancer to prevent the disease, and provides the evidence that women with normal screening results between 50- 64 have a lower risk of cervical cancer into their eighties.

Researchers examined data taken from 1,341 women who were screened aged 50 to 64 and the number of cervical cancers diagnosed between 65 to 83. They included nearly all 65 to 83-year old women in England and Wales diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2007 and 2012.
Women who had not been screened after 50 had a six fold higher risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer than those who had been screened but had a normal result during this time - with 49 cancers being diagnosed per 10,000 unscreened women over 20 years, compared to eight cancers per 10,000 women with normal screening results.

Women who had been screened regularly but had a positive (abnormal) screening result between 50 and 64 had a risk of 86 per 10,000 women over 20 years.

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Using progesterone for hot flushes shown safe for women's cardiovascular health

Treatment with progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone that has been shown to alleviate severe hot flushes and night sweats in post-menopausal women, poses little or no cardiovascular risk, according to a new study by the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health.

The findings, published in PLOS ONE, help to dispel a major impediment to widespread use of progesterone as a treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, said lead author Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, a professor of endocrinology and the head of Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

For decades, women used a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats, as well as to prevent osteoporosis. Use of this so-called "hormone replacement therapy" dropped dramatically after 2002, when a large study revealed that it increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, strokes and other serious conditions.

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Web predicts disease outbreak

The habit of Googling for an online diagnosis before visiting a GP can provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic.

In a new study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such Dengue Fever and Influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods.

Senior author of the paper titled Internet-based surveillance systems for monitoring emerging infectious diseases , QUT Senior Research Fellow Dr Wenbiao Hu said when investigating the occurrence of epidemics, spikes in searches for information about infectious diseases could accurately predict outbreaks of that disease.

Dr Hu, based at QUT's Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, said there was often a lag time of two weeks before traditional surveillance methods could detect an emerging infectious disease.

"This is because traditional surveillance relies on the patient recognising the symptoms and seeking treatment before diagnosis, along with the time taken for health professionals to alert authorities through their health networks," Dr Hu said.

"In contrast, digital surveillance can provide real-time detection of epidemics."

Dr Hu said the study found by using digital surveillance through search engine algorithms such as Google Trends and Google Insights, detecting the 2005-06 avian influenza outbreak "Bird Flu" would have been possible between one and two weeks earlier than official surveillance reports.

"In another example, a digital data collection network was found to be able to detect the SARS outbreak more than two months before the first publications by the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he said.

"Early detection means early warning and that can help reduce or contain an epidemic, as well alert public health authorities to ensure risk management strategies such as the provision of adequate medication are implemented."

Dr Hu said the study found social media and microblogs including Twitter and Facebook could also be effective in detecting disease outbreaks.

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Diet rich in tomatoes may lower breast cancer risk

A tomato-rich diet may help protect at-risk postmenopausal women from breast cancer, according to new research accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Breast cancer risk rises in postmenopausal women as their body mass index climbs. The study found eating a diet high in tomatoes had a positive effect on the level of hormones that play a role in regulating fat and sugar metabolism.
"The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings," said the study's first author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, who is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers University. Llanos completed the research while she was a postdoctoral fellow with Electra Paskett, PhD, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. "Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits. Based on this data, we believe regular consumption of at least the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables would promote breast cancer prevention in an at-risk population."

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Wrist fracture significantly raises risk of hip fracture

A new study supports widespread evidence that individuals who have suffered a fracture are at significantly increased risk of subsequent hip fractures. In fact, previous studies have shown that half of patients presenting with hip fractures have suffered a prior fracture.

Researchers T.-L. Huang and C.-W. Chen from the China Medical University in Chinese Taipei, studied whether Colles' fracture (fracture of the distal radius in the forearm, i.e. wrist fracture) increased hip fracture risk within one year, in an Asian population.

The investigators extracted data for patients with newly diagnosed Colles' fracture from records of both ambulatory and in-patient care during the years 2000–2006 and compared fracture risk in this group to a cohort without Colles' fracture. Both study groups were followed up for one year to measure the incidence of hip fracture using three different calculation models.

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Regular exercise in middle age protects against muscle weakness later in life

A cross-sectional study by investigators from Tokyo University has found that exercising in middle age is a protective factor against sarcopenia and effective in maintaining muscle strength and physical performance. Sarcopenia is a disease associated with the ageing process, resulting in loss of skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength and/or function in the elderly. The multiple adverse health outcomes include physical disability, poor quality of life and premature death.

The study assessed the prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with physical performance in 1000 elderly Japanese participants (349 men and 651 women aged ≥65 years) enrolled in the Research on Osteoarthritis/Osteoporosis Against Disability (ROAD) Study. Handgrip strength, gait speed, and skeletal muscle mass were measured and other information collected, including exercise habits in middle age.

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Hong Kong study shows lower survival rates after second hip fractures

Research presented at the 4th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting showed that second hip fractures are more deadly than first hip fractures. Based in Hong Kong, the study evaluated the overall incidence of a second hip fracture and subsequent mortality in 43,832 patients, aged 65 or above, with operatively treated first hip fracture during the years 2000-2011. The patients' mean age was 82±7.38 and the male to female ratio was 3:7. A total of 2,399 second hip fractures were identified.

On average, second hip fractures occurred 2 years and 8 months after the primary hip fracture. Females had a higher incidence of second hip fracture. The overall incidence of a second fracture was 0.88% at 6 months, 1.81% at 1 year, 6.91% at 5 years and 9.95% at 10 years. A total 75% of second fractures occurred within around 4 years after the initial fracture.

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Intimate chats about STIs are important in theory but difficult in bed

Having sex can be fun; and talking about sex can be fun. Talking about sexually transmitted infections with a sexual interest, however, is a totally different matter, according to new research from Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion.

The study, discussed during the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, found a disconnect between the public health messages that promote STI testing as a way to prevent STIs such as HIV and chlamydia and the conversations - or lack of them - occurring in bedrooms.

"Talking to partners about STIs is an important conversation to have," said Margo Mullinax, lead researcher for "Talk about testing: What sexual partners discuss in relation to STI status and why." "However, findings from this study suggest public health campaigns need to promote specific messages, concrete tips and tools around sexual health conversations stratified by relationship status. Campaigns should also address STI stigma and promote messages of normalcy with regard to talking about STIs."

STIs, if untreated, can lead to a range of health problems including infertility, so a growing public health emphasis has been on preventing STIs through testing. Mullinax said little was known, however, about how STI testing figured into actual conversations between lovers, particularly among the college-age crowd that accounts for a disproportionate number of new STI cases nationwide.

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Dementia may be delayed with speaking a second language

People who speak more than one language and who develop dementia tend to do so up to five years later than those who are monolingual, according to a study.

A team of scientists examined almost 650 dementia patients and assessed when each one had been diagnosed with the condition. The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad (India).

They found that people who spoke two or more languages experienced a later onset of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia.

The bilingual advantage extended to illiterate people who had not attended school. This confirms that the observed effect is not caused by differences in formal education.
It is the largest study so far to gauge the impact of bilingualism on the onset of dementia – independent of a person's education, gender, occupation and whether they live in a city or in the country, all of which have been examined as potential factors influencing the onset of dementia.

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One dose of HPV vaccine may be enough

Women vaccinated with one dose of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine had antibodies against the viruses that remained stable in their blood for four years, suggesting that a single dose of vaccine may be sufficient to generate long-term immune responses and protection against new HPV infections, and ultimately cervical cancer, according to a study recently published [1]. 

"The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccination coverage indicates that in 2012, only 53.8 percent of girls between 13 and 17 years old initiated HPV vaccination, and only 33.4 percent of them received all three doses," said Mahboobeh Safaeian, Ph.D., an investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Md.

"We wanted to evaluate whether two doses, or even one dose, of the HPV 16/18 L1 VLP vaccine [Cervarix] could induce a robust and sustainable response by the immune system," she added. "We found that both HPV 16 and HPV 18 antibody levels in women who received one dose remained stable four years after vaccination. Our findings challenge previous dogma that protein subunit vaccines require multiple doses to generate long-lived responses." 

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