The Pill may lower risk of the disease



October 18, 2007

Out of the mishmash of hormone studies researchers have been serving up lately comes some good news: Birth-control pills do not cause cancer.

According to a 36-year survey of some 46,000 British women, use of oral contraceptives may actually reduce a woman's risk of developing cancer unless she takes them for more than eight years.

The findings should be comforting to the hundreds of millions of women who have taken the Pill, which was developed in the 1960s and is considered the most effective method of preventing pregnancy.

"Many women, especially those who used the first generation of oral contraceptives (which contained higher doses of hormones), are likely to be reassured by our results," the study concluded. "The cancer benefits of oral contraception outweigh the risks."

Conducted by a research team from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, the study appeared in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal.

The only bad news in the British study was for women who used oral contraceptives for more than eight years -- less than one-quarter of the pill takers. Those long-term users had a greater chance of being diagnosed with cancer, especially brain and cervical cancer.

But their odds of getting ovarian cancer were much lower, and that protective effect lasted for at least 15 years after they stopped taking the Pill.

Chicago Tribune


Sudden buckling fairly common

People who have arthritis or who have had knee surgery often have a knee give way without warning. But researchers reported Monday that sudden buckling was fairly common even among people with no known knee problems.

Writing in The Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers said a study of more than 2,300 people middle age and older found that 12 percent had knee buckles in the previous three months. And more than one out of 10 times, the buckling led to falls.

In most cases, the problem occurred as people walked or went up or down stairs. So shifting weight appears to play a role, said the researchers, who were led by Dr. David T. Felson of the Boston University School of Medicine.

But why otherwise healthy knees give way is still not understood.

The researchers did point to several possible contributing factors, among them weight. Seventeen percent of the heaviest people in the study reported buckling, while 7 percent of the lightest ones did.

Other research has suggested that muscle weakness, especially in the quadriceps, may play a role. A sudden change in the angle of knee flexion may also contribute.

In people with arthritis, the tendency toward knee buckling and falls may explain why they are at higher risk for fractured hips, even when their hipbone density is not a problem, the study said.

New York Times


Concern over safety of Walgreens fresheners

Walgreens has pulled three of its air fresheners from shelves after tests by an environmental group showed that the products had high levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates, which can be dangerous to pregnant women or young children.

When will the government start assessing the risk of the popular sprays, gels and plug-ins?

That's the question several organizations asked in a petition to two federal agencies after the study by the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group found that 12 of 14 common air fresheners contain phthalates.

The products have been linked to breathing difficulties, developmental problems in babies and cancer in laboratory animals, according to the petition from the NRDC, the Sierra Club, Alliance for Healthy Homes and the National Center for Healthy Housing.

Last year, a National Institutes of Health study found that exposure to a chemical in many air fresheners, dichlorobenzene, may reduce lung function.

Walgreens removed its Walgreens Air Freshener Spray, Walgreens Scented Bouquet Air Fresheners and Walgreens Solid Air Fresheners as a precaution, after the NRDC tests showed they had the highest levels of phthalates. It plans to have them independently tested and will have a phthalate-free version available soon, a spokesman said.

Chicago Tribune

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