23 Sep

Medical News Today: Dense breast tissue: All you need to know

The breasts are made up of three main components: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue that can be both fatty and fibrous.

Some women have more fibrous tissue in their breasts than they do fatty tissue. When a woman has a high proportion of fibrous tissue, a doctor may diagnose her with dense breasts.

It is important that women are aware of the density of their breasts because denser breasts can make cancerous lesions more difficult for doctors to identify.

Fast facts on dense breast tissue:
  • Having dense breasts is not uncommon.
  • Doctors will diagnose dense breast tissue using an imaging scan known as a mammogram.
  • Sometimes, medications can affect a woman’s breast density.
  • As a general rule, a woman’s breasts will become less dense over time.


What is dense breast tissue?

<img src=”https://cdn1.medicalnewstoday.com/content/images/articles/319/319502/mammogram-showing-dense-breast-left-and-fatty-breast-right-br-image-credit-dr-kathy-cho-national-institutes-of-health-1994-br.jpg” alt=”Mammogram showing dense breast (left) and fatty breast (right)
Image credit: Dr. Kathy Cho, National Institutes of Health, 1994″>
Mammogram showing dense breasts (left) and fatty breasts (right).
Image credit: Dr. Kathy Cho, National Institutes of Health, 1994

Breast density is measured by the amount of fatty tissue in the breasts. The more fatty tissue, the less dense the breasts are.

According to some statistics, an estimated 40-50 percent of women aged 40-74 have dense breasts.

Women with dense breasts are more likely to have false-negative mammograms than women who do not have dense breasts, according to the National Cancer Institute. Recent research studies have also linked dense breasts to an increased risk of having breast cancer in both breasts.

While having dense breasts in no way guarantees a woman will get breast cancer, it is known to be a contributory factor and doctors are trying to define its relationship to breast cancer further.


Symptoms of dense breasts?

A common misconception about dense breasts is that they are firm or large. However, a woman with firm breasts does not necessarily have dense breasts. The density of a woman’s breasts can change over time. For example, as a woman ages, hormonal changes may cause more fatty tissue to develop in her breast.


What are the risk factors for dense breast tissue?

Mother and daughter taking a
Risk factors for dense breast tissue may include younger women and a family history of dense breast.

There are several risk facts including:

  • Age: The younger a woman is, the denser her breasts tend to be. Older women typically have less dense breasts.
  • Medication: Women who take hormone replacement therapy after menopause may see an increase in their breast density.
  • Genetics: Women with dense breasts are more likely to have mothers and grandmothers with dense breasts too.

Doctors suggest that dense breast tissue is usually genetic.


Diagnosis

Doctors can only detect dense breasts by looking on an X-ray or another imaging study. Usually, women will have a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that allows a doctor to identify potentially cancerous lesions as well as dense breast tissue.

Doctors will divide breast tissue into four categories:

  • mostly fatty
  • scattered density
  • consistent density
  • extremely dense

While a doctor may separate breast tissue into these four categories, there is no formula that can place a woman in any of them.

Typically, the fatty breast tissue will appear dark on an X-ray, and cancerous lesions will appear white.

However, breast tissue that is very dense will also appear white on the X-ray. This similarity in appearance can make identifying potentially cancerous lesions more difficult.

It is also possible that a doctor might diagnose a particularly dense area of tissue as a tumor only to find that it is, in fact, an area of increased breast density.

Sometimes, a doctor may recommend an additional imaging test known as an ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves and can help a radiologist detect if a lump is solid or fluid-filled.

Breast tomosynthesis uses 3-D imaging to recreate the breast.


Are there ways to prevent or treat dense breasts?

woman holding phone with glass of red wine on the table
Dense breast tissue cannot be prevented, but refraining from smoking and limiting alcohol may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

While there are no ways to prevent dense breast tissue from developing, a woman can engage in lifestyle choices that help her to reduce her risk for breast cancer.

Examples include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • engaging in regular physical activity
  • refraining from smoking
  • limiting alcohol intake

Guidelines recommend no more than one drink per day for most women.

Researchers have not identified whether taking medications to reduce breast density will decrease a woman’s breast cancer risk.

A doctor will likely consider a woman’s additional risks for breast cancer and recommend imaging frequency. For example, if a woman has dense breasts as well as a family history of breast cancer, she may require more frequent imaging scans.


Is dense breast tissue linked to cancer?

Women with dense breasts are associated with a higher risk for breast cancer.

According to an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women with dense breast tissue are 4-5 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who do not.

Another study published in the journal Cancer found that women with dense breasts who have breast cancer in one breast are at greater risk for developing breast cancer in the opposite breast.

This knowledge may help doctors counsel women regarding detection of breast cancer as well as treatment approaches for those women who have cancer.

More than 20 states have passed laws requiring radiologists to inform all the women that they have identified as having dense breasts so that they can be aware of their increased risk. If a woman receives this information, she should discuss it with her doctor.


Outlook

If a woman is identified as having dense breasts, she should talk to her doctor about her individual risks for breast cancer given her health and family history.

A woman and her doctor can plan a screening schedule, if needed, or arrange additional imaging scans to further evaluate her breasts.

The American Cancer Society recommend women ages 45-54 get a mammogram each year. After age 55, some women may switch to screenings every 2 years, should they choose to do so.

Women with a family history of breast cancer or who wish to begin screenings earlier can talk to their doctor about doing so.

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23 Sep

Medical News Today: Coughing at night: Ten ways to relieve a nighttime cough

Everyone has a cough from time to time. In fact, coughing can serve a useful purpose by ridding the lungs of irritants or excess mucus. Coughing may also help remove germs from the lungs and prevent infection.

But when coughing occurs at nighttime, it can interrupt sleep and prevent a person from getting a good night’s rest.

Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve coughing at night, including medication, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies.


Ten ways to relieve a nighttime cough

The following 10 tips may help a person reduce or ease their nighttime coughing:

1. Try a humidifier

A humidifier machine releasing vapor in a home.
A humidifier machine may help if the coughing is caused by dry air.

Dry air can make a cough worse. Air conditioning and cooling fans in the summer and heating systems in the winter can make the environment dry.

A person can try using a humidifier at night to add moisture to the air where they sleep. Adding humidity by this method may help soothe the throat and prevent coughing.

However, too much moisture can contribute to mold growth. Mold can be an allergen and cause even more coughing.

A device called a hygrometer can be used to check the moisture level in a room. A hygrometer can usually be bought from a hardware store.

A humidity level of about 50 percent in a bedroom is a good target to aim for.


2. Decrease allergens

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a generally harmless substance. Symptoms, such as sneezing, stuffiness, and coughing are common.

Common allergy triggers include mold, pet dander, and dust. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a person can decrease allergy related coughing in the bedroom by:

  • Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter on the bedroom floor weekly to remove dust.
  • Ridding the bedroom of magnets for dust, such as magazines, books, and trinkets.
  • Washing bedding in hot water once a week.
  • Showering before going to bed to remove outdoor allergens, such as pollen.

3. Manage GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that causes some of the contents of the stomach to flow back up to the esophagus. It can lead to throat irritation and coughing, especially at night.

People who have GERD should talk to their doctor about managing their condition. Avoiding foods that may trigger heartburn and not eating for about 4 hours before bed may help decrease symptoms.

4. Drink tea with honey

Hot tea with honey can soothe the throat, reduce irritation, and loosen mucus.

Honey should not be given to children less that 1 year old due to the potential risk of a form of food poisoning called botulism.

5. Consider over-the-counter medicine

Cough medicine.
Cough supressants and expectorants may be needed if coughing is particularly severe.

Some people may want to consider taking over-the-counter medication when coughing makes it impossible to sleep.

Cough medications are usually classified as one of the following:

  • Cough suppressants: These block the cough reflex. Prescription cough suppressants are also available that contain codeine.
  • Expectorants: An expectorant thins the mucus in the lungs, which makes it easier to cough it up. By helping cough the mucus up, an expectorant may shorten how long a cough lasts.

Cough medications may have side effects and interact with other drugs, so it is best to talk to a doctor or pharmacist first.


6. Elevate the head

Coughing often becomes worse at night because a person is lying flat in bed. Mucus can pool in the back of the throat and cause coughing.

Sleeping with the head elevated can decrease postnasal drip and symptoms of GERD, which both cause coughing at night.

A person can prop up the head of their bed using a few pillows or a back wedge. A change in sleep position can allow mucus to flow without causing coughing.

7. Gargle with warm salt water before bed

Salt water can ease a sore or irritated throat. It can also help remove mucus from the back of the throat.

To reduce coughing, a person can mix a teaspoon of salt in about 6 ounces of warm water and gargle a few times before bed. The salt water should be spat out after gargling and not swallowed.

8. Quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes is a frequent cause of a long-term cough. Quitting smoking will help decrease coughing over time, although it will not stop the problem overnight.

The American Lung Association offers resources to help people who want to quit smoking.

It can also be helpful to talk to a doctor about aids for quitting, such as nicotine patches, gum, and medication.


9. Use a saline nasal spray

A saline nasal spray can decrease dryness, thin mucus, and wash away irritants and allergens from the nose.

Saline nasal sprays contain salt and water and may also decrease postnasal drip.

10. Treat asthma

Asthma is a long-term lung disorder that involves inflammation and narrowing of the airway. A common symptom of asthma is coughing, which often becomes worse at night.

A prescription inhaler may stop coughing at night due to asthma. Some inhalers contain respiratory medications to open the airways, which may ease coughing and make breathing easier.


Causes of coughing at night

Woman coughing at night, with tissues and cough medicine by her bedside.
Nighttime coughing may be a symptom of a range of conditions, including allergies, flu, bronchitis, and asthma.

Coughing at night can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, some of which are short-term and disappear within a week or two. In other cases, the causes of a nighttime cough can be long-term.

The following conditions are common causes of nighttime coughing:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • emphysema
  • chronic bronchitis 
  • GERD
  • common cold
  • flu 


When to see a doctor

Nighttime coughing can often be reduced by using one of the above suggestions. However, there are some instances when it is best to see a doctor.

A person should see a doctor if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • fever greater than 38.3°C
  • coughing for more than a week
  • coughing up blood
  • wheezing
  • chest pain
  • trouble breathing

Outlook

The severity of nighttime coughing will depend on the cause. For example, nighttime coughing due to a common cold will usually clear up in a week or two. If a chronic lung disease is the cause, coughing may be more difficult to reduce.

People who have allergies, asthma, or GERD can improve their outlook by managing their condition and working with their doctor to find treatment options that decrease symptoms.

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23 Sep

Medical News Today: How purple potatoes could prevent colon cancer

purple potatoes
Researchers suggest that purple potatoes may help to prevent colon cancer.
Increasing the intake of purple potatoes and other colorful fruits and vegetables could lower the risk of colon cancer and many other diseases, according to the results of a new study.

In a study of pigs, researchers found that supplementing a high-calorie diet (HCD) with purple potatoes led to a reduction in levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) – a pro-inflammatory protein that studies have shown can promote colon cancer – in the colon.

Study co-author Jairam K.P. Vanamala, a professor of food sciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and colleagues say that their results support previous research that claims that plant-based diets are linked to lower colon cancer risk.

The researchers recently reported their findings in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in the United States this year.

If caught early, the 5-year survival rate for colon cancer is around 92 percent. For patients whose colon cancer has metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body, 5-year survival stands at around 11 percent.

Studies have suggested that dietary changes – such as reducing meat intake and increasing the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – can help to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Prof. Vanamala and team expand on these findings by shedding light on how brightly colored fruits and vegetables might contribute to better colonic health.

“What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword – it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer,” says Prof. Vanamala. “What we don’t know is, ‘how does this food work on the molecular level?’ This study is a step in that direction.”


Purple potatoes and pigs

The researchers came to their findings by feeding pigs one of three diets for 13 weeks: an HCD, an HCD supplemented with purple potatoes (raw or baked), and a standard diet (the control diet).

As with many colorful fruits and vegetables, purple potatoes contain beneficial nutrients at significantly higher levels than their white-fleshed counterparts.

“Specifically, purple-fleshed potatoes are rich in phenolic acids and anthocyanins,” the researchers note. “[…] white potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds.” Previous studies have shown that these compounds have anti-cancer properties.

After the 13-week diet interventions, the team screened the colonic tissue of the animals in order to determine how each diet had affected gene expression and levels of pro-inflammatory markers.


Purple potatoes prevented inflammation

The analysis revealed that compared with pigs fed the control diet, pigs fed only the HCD showed an increase in levels of IL-6, which could increase the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.

However, the pigs fed the HCD supplemented with purple potatoes had IL-6 levels that were six times lower than that of the control group.

Based on these results, Prof. Vanamala and team suggest that targeting IL-6 with purple potatoes and other colorful fruits and vegetables high in anti-inflammatory compounds could be a feasible way to prevent colon cancer and other diseases.

We observed that dietary supplementation of purple-fleshed potatoes, even after processing, prevented HCD-induced inflammation. Ultimately, this work is important as [a] chronic inflammatory environment can lead to a multitude of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.”

“The prevalence of chronic inflammation-promoted diseases are on the rise around the globe,” the team adds, “thus, it is critical to develop safe, effective, and affordable dietary interventions or strategies to help prevent the onset of diseases.”

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23 Sep

When Adults Show Determination, Babies Copy

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News Picture: When Adults Show Determination, Babies CopyBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Grit and determination are not necessarily ingrained. Rather, they’re qualities learned from a very young age, a new lab experiment demonstrates.

Latest Healthy Kids News

Children as young as 15 months old learn tenacity from watching their parents, and will try harder after watching an adult struggle to succeed at a task, said lead researcher Julia Leonard.

Toddlers in her lab tried twice as hard to make a new toy work if they first saw an adult strive and strain to complete a different chore, as opposed to watching an adult effortlessly achieving, said Leonard, a doctoral candidate with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of brain and cognitive sciences.

“There’s some pressure that parents need to make everything look effortless at times. I think this study shows that it’s OK to let your kid see you sweat,” Leonard said. “Infants are watching your behavior intently and actually learning from what you do.”

In the experiment, researchers showed 15-month-olds one of two situations.

One set of toddlers watched an adult fumble for 30 seconds before accomplishing a task — either removing a plastic frog from a container, or taking a keychain off a carabiner. The other group watched an adult easily complete the same chore three times during the same half-minute.

The toddlers then were given a toy that appeared to play music.

“It had a big button on top that looked like it could be pressed to make music, but it actually did nothing,” Leonard said. “We observed how many times they pressed that button before giving up.”

The children who watched an adult toil away wound up pushing the button about twice as many times as those who watched an adult easily reach their goal, Leonard said.

“We found that infants who watched an adult really struggle and then succeed pushed the button more times than kids who watched an adult effortlessly succeed,” Leonard said.

The music toy was completely different from the carabiner and container handed to adults, so researchers ruled out the possibility that the toddlers might just be mimicking grown-up actions.

“They’re not just imitating because the adult never showed button presses or trying to activate a music player,” Leonard said.

“We often think of persistence as a trait or characteristic inherent to who we are,” she added. “I think persistence is more than that. We can learn and modify our effortful actions based on social context.”

In the last decade, there has been a change in the way we consider a child’s potential for future success, said Lucas Butler, an assistant professor with the University of Maryland College of Education.

Talents and abilities are valuable, but educators and researchers now also look at the importance of the beliefs and mindsets that help motivate children, said Butler, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It’s not just how smart or skilled you are,” he said. “It’s also how you approach challenges and difficulties and setbacks.”

The new study “tells us these beliefs or orientations towards hard work and effort may be starting really, really young,” Butler said.

“It should lead parents to think, ‘Hey, my 1-year-old child is already learning about what’s easy and what’s difficult, and learning that when things are difficult, that doesn’t mean they’re impossible,'” he said.

Rather than plop children in front of a TV or tablet when it’s chore time, parents might consider letting the kids watch them clean the house or cook a meal, Butler said.

“Kids are inherently interested in what their parents are doing, especially at that age,” Butler said. “Let them see there are things like everyday household activities that you kind of have to work at, and then they pay off. They might learn something about working hard.”

The new paper appears in the Sept. 22 issue of the journal Science.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Julia Leonard, Ph.D. candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, department of brain and cognitive sciences, Cambridge; Lucas Butler, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Maryland College of Education, College Park; Science, Sept. 22, 2017

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23 Sep

When Adults Show Determination, Babies Copy

View Parent's Guide to Crying and Colic

News Picture: When Adults Show Determination, Babies CopyBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Grit and determination are not necessarily ingrained. Rather, they’re qualities learned from a very young age, a new lab experiment demonstrates.

Latest Healthy Kids News

Children as young as 15 months old learn tenacity from watching their parents, and will try harder after watching an adult struggle to succeed at a task, said lead researcher Julia Leonard.

Toddlers in her lab tried twice as hard to make a new toy work if they first saw an adult strive and strain to complete a different chore, as opposed to watching an adult effortlessly achieving, said Leonard, a doctoral candidate with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of brain and cognitive sciences.

“There’s some pressure that parents need to make everything look effortless at times. I think this study shows that it’s OK to let your kid see you sweat,” Leonard said. “Infants are watching your behavior intently and actually learning from what you do.”

In the experiment, researchers showed 15-month-olds one of two situations.

One set of toddlers watched an adult fumble for 30 seconds before accomplishing a task — either removing a plastic frog from a container, or taking a keychain off a carabiner. The other group watched an adult easily complete the same chore three times during the same half-minute.

The toddlers then were given a toy that appeared to play music.

“It had a big button on top that looked like it could be pressed to make music, but it actually did nothing,” Leonard said. “We observed how many times they pressed that button before giving up.”

The children who watched an adult toil away wound up pushing the button about twice as many times as those who watched an adult easily reach their goal, Leonard said.

“We found that infants who watched an adult really struggle and then succeed pushed the button more times than kids who watched an adult effortlessly succeed,” Leonard said.

The music toy was completely different from the carabiner and container handed to adults, so researchers ruled out the possibility that the toddlers might just be mimicking grown-up actions.

“They’re not just imitating because the adult never showed button presses or trying to activate a music player,” Leonard said.

“We often think of persistence as a trait or characteristic inherent to who we are,” she added. “I think persistence is more than that. We can learn and modify our effortful actions based on social context.”

In the last decade, there has been a change in the way we consider a child’s potential for future success, said Lucas Butler, an assistant professor with the University of Maryland College of Education.

Talents and abilities are valuable, but educators and researchers now also look at the importance of the beliefs and mindsets that help motivate children, said Butler, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It’s not just how smart or skilled you are,” he said. “It’s also how you approach challenges and difficulties and setbacks.”

The new study “tells us these beliefs or orientations towards hard work and effort may be starting really, really young,” Butler said.

“It should lead parents to think, ‘Hey, my 1-year-old child is already learning about what’s easy and what’s difficult, and learning that when things are difficult, that doesn’t mean they’re impossible,'” he said.

Rather than plop children in front of a TV or tablet when it’s chore time, parents might consider letting the kids watch them clean the house or cook a meal, Butler said.

“Kids are inherently interested in what their parents are doing, especially at that age,” Butler said. “Let them see there are things like everyday household activities that you kind of have to work at, and then they pay off. They might learn something about working hard.”

The new paper appears in the Sept. 22 issue of the journal Science.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Julia Leonard, Ph.D. candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, department of brain and cognitive sciences, Cambridge; Lucas Butler, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Maryland College of Education, College Park; Science, Sept. 22, 2017

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23 Sep

Chlorine and Pee May Cause Breathing Troubles

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News Picture: Chlorine + Pee = Breathing Trouble for Waterpark Workers

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Another summer ends, and at least some of America’s waterpark attendants may be breathing easier, a new report finds.

Latest Infectious Disease News

The research — conducted at an unnamed indoor waterpark in Ohio last year — found that high levels of chlorine in water can mix with patrons’ sweat and urine to create a toxic atmospheric brew.

In fact, the investigation “found that waterpark employees were approximately four times more likely to have work-related [eye] and respiratory symptoms than were employees in other resort areas,” said a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the 91 workers at the park who agreed to participate in the study, a third (29) were affected with at least three work-related symptoms such as irritated eyes and nose, coughing, wheezing, sore throat, shortness of breath or chest tightness.

Twenty-four of those 29 workers were employed in and around the waterpark facilities. According to the researchers, those facilities included “a children’s play area, activity pool, rain fortress with a splash area and bucket periodically dumping 1,000 gallons of water, four waterslides, and a hot tub and spa.”

Poor ventilation is key to outbreaks of illness like these, the CDC team said.

In enclosed pools and other spaces, hazardous airborne chemicals such as “chloroform and chloramines are formed when chlorine, the most commonly used disinfectant in aquatic venues [e.g., pools], reacts with other chemicals in the water,” explained a team led by CDC epidemiologist Dr. Sophia Chiu.

Those “chemicals in the water” are nitrogen-bearing substances that originate with patrons’ bodies — the “urine, sweat, skin cells and personal-care products of swimmers,” as the researchers explained.

Chemical byproducts created by this mix of chlorine and body fluids can be dispersed if waterparks are well-ventilated, however.

But the inspection the CDC team carried out at the indoor park found that “HVAC systems, which play an important role in removing air contaminants, were poorly maintained and not operating properly.”

In fact, “the fans of five of the waterpark’s six HVAC units were not operational, substantially reducing airflow in the waterpark,” the researchers said.

Chiu’s group stressed that the respiratory symptoms were transient — employees got better when they left the work environment. But the team also noted that by 2015, millions of Americans were visiting the nation’s 192 waterparks annually, so toxic air could be affecting many.

The CDC recommends that employees quickly report symptoms to management, so parks can take steps to improve airflow.

And what about the patrons, young and old, who frequent these aquatic playgrounds?

Besides showering before entering waterpark pools, the CDC “recommends that swimmers take regular bathroom breaks.”

The study was published Sept. 21 in the CDC journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

— E.J. Mundell

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Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Sept. 21, 2017

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23 Sep

Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not All

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News Picture: Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not AllBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks — but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Latest Infectious Disease News

The study was done in the United Kingdom, where experts recommend that blood donors wait 12 to 16 weeks before giving again.

That’s in contrast to the United States, where blood donations are already allowed at eight-week intervals.

The study — a large clinical trial involving more than 45,000 blood donors — was set up to answer a critical question: Do frequent donors suffer ill health effects?

The answer, researchers found, was “nuanced.”

There was no evidence that frequent donations caused “major adverse effects,” such as draining donors’ physical energy, dimming their mental sharpness or harming their general quality of life.

“Frequent,” in this trial, meant every eight weeks for men and every 12 weeks for women, over two years.

On the other hand, one-quarter of frequent donors did develop iron deficiency by the two-year mark. And some complained of symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and trouble breathing.

The study results were published online Sept. 20 in The Lancet.

What does it all mean? According to the researchers, the report suggests that strategic use of frequent blood donations could work.

“This study suggests that more frequent blood donation is a feasible and safe option for donors in the U.K.,” said senior researcher Dr. John Danesh, a professor at the University of Cambridge in England.

It could be a good “short-term option” at times when the donor blood supply falls, or demand rises, Danesh said in a journal news release.

On the other hand, donating frequently on a routine basis may be needlessly risky, according to an expert who was not involved in the study.

“The shorter interval between donations is probably not ideal,” said Dr. Edward Murphy, a researcher with the Blood Systems Research Institute, in San Francisco.

Blood donors give about a pint of blood each time, explained Murphy, who co-authored an editorial published with the study. That depletes them of about 200 to 250 milligrams of iron, he said. And it takes the average donor about six months to fully recover those iron stores, if no supplements are used.

That window shrinks to around 90 days if a donor takes a standard daily iron pill, according to Murphy.

Yet the currently recommended blood-donation intervals do not reflect that.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has set eight weeks as the minimum for men and women. In France and Germany, men can donate every eight weeks, and women every 12 — while the United Kingdom has longer wait times.

Why? The recommendations are actually “poorly supported” by scientific evidence, Murphy said.

And historically, practical concerns — like maintaining an adequate donor blood supply — have entered the picture, he said.

The new study is the first clinical trial to test the effects of different donation intervals. “That’s the innovation of this research,” Murphy said.

Danesh and his colleagues randomly assigned more than 45,000 U.K. donors to different intervals: Men donated every 12, 10 or eight weeks over two years; women gave every 16, 14 or 12 weeks.

At the two-year mark, the donors took standard tests of memory, attention and other mental skills. They also filled out questionnaires on their physical activity habits and quality of life.

Overall, the study found, frequent blood donors did just as well on those measures as other donors.

But they were more likely to say they’d had symptoms that could be due to donation — including fatigue, dizziness and “restless legs” (uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them). Those problems affected a minority of donors overall.

There was no correlation, however, between those symptoms and depleted iron stores.

“That’s part of the problem,” Murphy said. Donors cannot rely on symptoms to know whether their iron stores have dropped too low.

Murphy said some U.S. blood banks have started measuring donors’ iron levels, and shifting to longer donation intervals for people who are deficient. Another solution would be to provide donors with iron supplements, he suggested.

The typical blood donor probably gives two or three times a year, Murphy said.

“But,” he added, “there are those people who come back religiously, six or seven times a year.”

He suggested that frequent donors talk to their blood bank about the risk of iron deficiency, and decide whether they should be tested and/or donate less often.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Edward Murphy, M.D., M.P.H., professor in residence, laboratory medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and senior investigator, Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco; Sept. 20, 2017, The Lancet, online

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Source: MediciNet

23 Sep

Chlorine and Pee May Cause Breathing Troubles

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News Picture: Chlorine + Pee = Breathing Trouble for Waterpark Workers

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Another summer ends, and at least some of America’s waterpark attendants may be breathing easier, a new report finds.

Latest Infectious Disease News

The research — conducted at an unnamed indoor waterpark in Ohio last year — found that high levels of chlorine in water can mix with patrons’ sweat and urine to create a toxic atmospheric brew.

In fact, the investigation “found that waterpark employees were approximately four times more likely to have work-related [eye] and respiratory symptoms than were employees in other resort areas,” said a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the 91 workers at the park who agreed to participate in the study, a third (29) were affected with at least three work-related symptoms such as irritated eyes and nose, coughing, wheezing, sore throat, shortness of breath or chest tightness.

Twenty-four of those 29 workers were employed in and around the waterpark facilities. According to the researchers, those facilities included “a children’s play area, activity pool, rain fortress with a splash area and bucket periodically dumping 1,000 gallons of water, four waterslides, and a hot tub and spa.”

Poor ventilation is key to outbreaks of illness like these, the CDC team said.

In enclosed pools and other spaces, hazardous airborne chemicals such as “chloroform and chloramines are formed when chlorine, the most commonly used disinfectant in aquatic venues [e.g., pools], reacts with other chemicals in the water,” explained a team led by CDC epidemiologist Dr. Sophia Chiu.

Those “chemicals in the water” are nitrogen-bearing substances that originate with patrons’ bodies — the “urine, sweat, skin cells and personal-care products of swimmers,” as the researchers explained.

Chemical byproducts created by this mix of chlorine and body fluids can be dispersed if waterparks are well-ventilated, however.

But the inspection the CDC team carried out at the indoor park found that “HVAC systems, which play an important role in removing air contaminants, were poorly maintained and not operating properly.”

In fact, “the fans of five of the waterpark’s six HVAC units were not operational, substantially reducing airflow in the waterpark,” the researchers said.

Chiu’s group stressed that the respiratory symptoms were transient — employees got better when they left the work environment. But the team also noted that by 2015, millions of Americans were visiting the nation’s 192 waterparks annually, so toxic air could be affecting many.

The CDC recommends that employees quickly report symptoms to management, so parks can take steps to improve airflow.

And what about the patrons, young and old, who frequent these aquatic playgrounds?

Besides showering before entering waterpark pools, the CDC “recommends that swimmers take regular bathroom breaks.”

The study was published Sept. 21 in the CDC journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

— E.J. Mundell

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Sept. 21, 2017

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23 Sep

Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not All

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News Picture: Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not AllBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks — but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

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The study was done in the United Kingdom, where experts recommend that blood donors wait 12 to 16 weeks before giving again.

That’s in contrast to the United States, where blood donations are already allowed at eight-week intervals.

The study — a large clinical trial involving more than 45,000 blood donors — was set up to answer a critical question: Do frequent donors suffer ill health effects?

The answer, researchers found, was “nuanced.”

There was no evidence that frequent donations caused “major adverse effects,” such as draining donors’ physical energy, dimming their mental sharpness or harming their general quality of life.

“Frequent,” in this trial, meant every eight weeks for men and every 12 weeks for women, over two years.

On the other hand, one-quarter of frequent donors did develop iron deficiency by the two-year mark. And some complained of symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and trouble breathing.

The study results were published online Sept. 20 in The Lancet.

What does it all mean? According to the researchers, the report suggests that strategic use of frequent blood donations could work.

“This study suggests that more frequent blood donation is a feasible and safe option for donors in the U.K.,” said senior researcher Dr. John Danesh, a professor at the University of Cambridge in England.

It could be a good “short-term option” at times when the donor blood supply falls, or demand rises, Danesh said in a journal news release.

On the other hand, donating frequently on a routine basis may be needlessly risky, according to an expert who was not involved in the study.

“The shorter interval between donations is probably not ideal,” said Dr. Edward Murphy, a researcher with the Blood Systems Research Institute, in San Francisco.

Blood donors give about a pint of blood each time, explained Murphy, who co-authored an editorial published with the study. That depletes them of about 200 to 250 milligrams of iron, he said. And it takes the average donor about six months to fully recover those iron stores, if no supplements are used.

That window shrinks to around 90 days if a donor takes a standard daily iron pill, according to Murphy.

Yet the currently recommended blood-donation intervals do not reflect that.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has set eight weeks as the minimum for men and women. In France and Germany, men can donate every eight weeks, and women every 12 — while the United Kingdom has longer wait times.

Why? The recommendations are actually “poorly supported” by scientific evidence, Murphy said.

And historically, practical concerns — like maintaining an adequate donor blood supply — have entered the picture, he said.

The new study is the first clinical trial to test the effects of different donation intervals. “That’s the innovation of this research,” Murphy said.

Danesh and his colleagues randomly assigned more than 45,000 U.K. donors to different intervals: Men donated every 12, 10 or eight weeks over two years; women gave every 16, 14 or 12 weeks.

At the two-year mark, the donors took standard tests of memory, attention and other mental skills. They also filled out questionnaires on their physical activity habits and quality of life.

Overall, the study found, frequent blood donors did just as well on those measures as other donors.

But they were more likely to say they’d had symptoms that could be due to donation — including fatigue, dizziness and “restless legs” (uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them). Those problems affected a minority of donors overall.

There was no correlation, however, between those symptoms and depleted iron stores.

“That’s part of the problem,” Murphy said. Donors cannot rely on symptoms to know whether their iron stores have dropped too low.

Murphy said some U.S. blood banks have started measuring donors’ iron levels, and shifting to longer donation intervals for people who are deficient. Another solution would be to provide donors with iron supplements, he suggested.

The typical blood donor probably gives two or three times a year, Murphy said.

“But,” he added, “there are those people who come back religiously, six or seven times a year.”

He suggested that frequent donors talk to their blood bank about the risk of iron deficiency, and decide whether they should be tested and/or donate less often.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Edward Murphy, M.D., M.P.H., professor in residence, laboratory medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and senior investigator, Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco; Sept. 20, 2017, The Lancet, online

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Source: MediciNet

23 Sep

Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not All

Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow

News Picture: Frequent Blood Donations Safe for Some, But Not AllBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks — but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Latest Infectious Disease News

The study was done in the United Kingdom, where experts recommend that blood donors wait 12 to 16 weeks before giving again.

That’s in contrast to the United States, where blood donations are already allowed at eight-week intervals.

The study — a large clinical trial involving more than 45,000 blood donors — was set up to answer a critical question: Do frequent donors suffer ill health effects?

The answer, researchers found, was “nuanced.”

There was no evidence that frequent donations caused “major adverse effects,” such as draining donors’ physical energy, dimming their mental sharpness or harming their general quality of life.

“Frequent,” in this trial, meant every eight weeks for men and every 12 weeks for women, over two years.

On the other hand, one-quarter of frequent donors did develop iron deficiency by the two-year mark. And some complained of symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and trouble breathing.

The study results were published online Sept. 20 in The Lancet.

What does it all mean? According to the researchers, the report suggests that strategic use of frequent blood donations could work.

“This study suggests that more frequent blood donation is a feasible and safe option for donors in the U.K.,” said senior researcher Dr. John Danesh, a professor at the University of Cambridge in England.

It could be a good “short-term option” at times when the donor blood supply falls, or demand rises, Danesh said in a journal news release.

On the other hand, donating frequently on a routine basis may be needlessly risky, according to an expert who was not involved in the study.

“The shorter interval between donations is probably not ideal,” said Dr. Edward Murphy, a researcher with the Blood Systems Research Institute, in San Francisco.

Blood donors give about a pint of blood each time, explained Murphy, who co-authored an editorial published with the study. That depletes them of about 200 to 250 milligrams of iron, he said. And it takes the average donor about six months to fully recover those iron stores, if no supplements are used.

That window shrinks to around 90 days if a donor takes a standard daily iron pill, according to Murphy.

Yet the currently recommended blood-donation intervals do not reflect that.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has set eight weeks as the minimum for men and women. In France and Germany, men can donate every eight weeks, and women every 12 — while the United Kingdom has longer wait times.

Why? The recommendations are actually “poorly supported” by scientific evidence, Murphy said.

And historically, practical concerns — like maintaining an adequate donor blood supply — have entered the picture, he said.

The new study is the first clinical trial to test the effects of different donation intervals. “That’s the innovation of this research,” Murphy said.

Danesh and his colleagues randomly assigned more than 45,000 U.K. donors to different intervals: Men donated every 12, 10 or eight weeks over two years; women gave every 16, 14 or 12 weeks.

At the two-year mark, the donors took standard tests of memory, attention and other mental skills. They also filled out questionnaires on their physical activity habits and quality of life.

Overall, the study found, frequent blood donors did just as well on those measures as other donors.

But they were more likely to say they’d had symptoms that could be due to donation — including fatigue, dizziness and “restless legs” (uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them). Those problems affected a minority of donors overall.

There was no correlation, however, between those symptoms and depleted iron stores.

“That’s part of the problem,” Murphy said. Donors cannot rely on symptoms to know whether their iron stores have dropped too low.

Murphy said some U.S. blood banks have started measuring donors’ iron levels, and shifting to longer donation intervals for people who are deficient. Another solution would be to provide donors with iron supplements, he suggested.

The typical blood donor probably gives two or three times a year, Murphy said.

“But,” he added, “there are those people who come back religiously, six or seven times a year.”

He suggested that frequent donors talk to their blood bank about the risk of iron deficiency, and decide whether they should be tested and/or donate less often.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Edward Murphy, M.D., M.P.H., professor in residence, laboratory medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and senior investigator, Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco; Sept. 20, 2017, The Lancet, online

Subscribe to MedicineNet’s General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet’s Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet’s subscriptions at any time.

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Source: MediciNet