HEALTH

Vitamins, calcium supplements may cut women’s breast cancer risk

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Vitamins and calcium supplements appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to findings presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 101st Annual Meeting 2010, the association announced Sunday.

"It is not an immediate effect. You don’t take a vitamin today and your breast cancer risk is reduced tomorrow," stated Jaime Matta, professor in the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. "However, we did see a long-term effect in terms of breast cancer reduction."

Matta said the findings suggest that the calcium supplements are acting to enhance DNA repair capacity, a complex biological process involving more than 200 proteins that, if disrupted, can lead to cancer.

 

"This process involves at least five separate pathways and is critical for maintaining genomic stability," Matta said. "When the DNA is not repaired, it leads to mutation that leads to cancer."

 

 

The study included 268 women with breast cancer and 457 healthy controls. Women were more likely to have breast cancer if they were older, had a family history of breast cancer, had no history of breastfeeding and had lower DNA repair capacity.

 

 

Vitamin supplements appeared to reduce the risk of breast cancer by about 30%. Calcium supplements reduced the risk of breast cancer by 40%. After controlling for the level of DNA repair capacity, calcium supplements were no longer as protective, but the link between vitamin supplements and breast cancer reduction remained.

 

 

"We’re not talking about mega doses of these vitamins and calcium supplements, so this is definitely one way to reduce risk," Matta said.

 

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CDC: African-Americans, Hispanics experience severe arthritis compared with whites

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Arthritis causes more pain and limitations for African-Americans and Hispanics than for whites, according to a study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

African-Americans were 17% less likely to report having arthritis than whites, and Hispanics were 46% less likely to report the condition than whites, the study said. However, African-Americans and Hispanics with arthritis were almost twice as likely to report severe joint pain and work limitations attributed to their arthritis when compared with whites, the study added.

The study, “Difference in the Prevalence and Impact of Arthritis among Racial/Ethnic Groups,” was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

The reason for the racial and ethnic differences, while unknown, may result from a lack of access to health care, language barriers and cultural differences, the report suggested.

“We must address these stark differences in arthritis impact by using what we know,” stated Jennifer Hootman,  an epidemiologist for the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and co-author of the report. “We can educate those with arthritis about increasing physical activity and self-management and reducing obesity, especially those in groups bearing a disproportionate burden from arthritis.”

The data, collected from the CDC National Health Interview Survey, are the first to estimate the national prevalence of arthritis and assess its impact among smaller racial and ethnic groups that are usually grouped together when reporting health statistics.

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CHPA urges nationwide e-tracking for all cough-cold medicines with PSE

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Tuesday called on Congress to amend and strengthen the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act by requiring nationwide electronic tracking for all over-the-counter sales of cold-and-allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

The proclamation came as the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing Tuesday morning on “The Status of Meth: Oregon’s Experience Making Pseudoephedrine Prescription Only.”

“E-tracking is the only solution that will immediately block illegal sales and prevent criminals from buying illegal amounts of PSE to manufacture methamphetamine,” the CHPA stated. CHPA president Linda Suydam committed on behalf of industry to fund a national system and work with the retail community to expand the National Precursor Log Exchange system currently being implemented in eight states that have passed e-tracking legislation.

The NPLEx e-tracking system works in real time to stop individuals from exceeding package limits when purchasing PSE-containing medicines. Using sales records that retailers are already required to keep and which are only made available to law enforcement, NPLEx works across state lines and provides law enforcement with an effective tool to stop methamphetamine production.

“We are asking Congress to significantly improve the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act by leveraging cutting-edge technology to block illegal pseudoephedrine sales nationwide,” Suydam stated. “Electronic tracking offers the best solution to reducing methamphetamine labs without imposing a costly and unnecessary prescription mandate. Our goal is to stop illegal pseudoephedrine sales while maintaining important over-the-counter access to the 15 million consumers who rely on these medicines each year.”

Ten states have already adopted laws requiring retailers to use an e-tracking system to track PSE sales, CHPA noted, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington. Attorneys general from Alabama, Kansas and Washington submitted letters to the caucus noting their support for electronic tracking and urged consideration of e-tracking at the federal level.

CHPA is funding NPLEx in eight of these states to help retailers to comply with these new laws.

Only two states, Oregon and Mississippi, instead have elected to make PSE medicines available by prescription only. Suydam told the caucus that, “when contrasted with electronic tracking, prescription mandates simply fall short. A prescription mandate would be more expensive to consumers, sales limits from [the Combat Meth Act] would no longer apply, and there would be no system for real-time blocking of illegal prescription sales within states or across state lines.”

Suydam also challenged the effectiveness of Oregon’s prescription-only law, noting that most of Oregon’s lab reductions occurred prior to the state’s prescription mandate and that states across the West achieved similar results without such a burdensome restriction. “The industry supports federal legislation requiring nationwide tracking, and we are asking that the current paper system be modernized to provide a system that will work seamlessly and more effectively across all states,” said Suydam. “E-tracking systems like NPLEx are the most effective tool we have to systematically address methamphetamine production in this country. A multi-state approach to electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking offers more benefits for law enforcement and consumers than a prescription mandate, but without the substantial and unnecessary costs of a prescription approach.”

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