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Entries in Women's Health Initiative (2)

Monday
Mar282011

Anemia in Postmenopausal Women Associated with Inadequate Diet 

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- When your blood lacks an adequate supply of healthy red blood cells  to carry oxygen to organs of the body, you may have a condition called anemia. There are hundreds of types of anemia, affecting millions of Americans.  

A new study looked at anemia among one group of women to see if there is a link between the condition and nutrition. Researchers with the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 90,000 post-menopausal women who took part in a Women's Health Initiative study. They found that the women ran a 21 percent greater risk of persistent anemia if they didn't get enough of two of the following: Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, or the nutrients from red meat. Those deficient in at least three of those nutrients were 44 percent more likely to develop anemia than women with no nutritional deficiencies.  

The authors point out that inadequate nutrition is a problem that can be solved by eating a better diet, but the study stopped short of saying a better diet actually reduces the risk of anemia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct192010

Hormone Therapy Linked to Higher Breast Cancer Death Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New research results released Tuesday from the ongoing Women's Health Initiative trial found that not only do postmenopausal women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy have a higher chance of getting aggressive forms of breast cancer, but that they may be at higher risk of dying from the disease.

The results, from an 11-year follow-up with more than 12,000 women who were randomly assigned to receive either the combination hormone therapy or a placebo, found 385 women taking the therapy developed an aggressive form of breast cancer, compared to 293 in the placebo group.  Twenty-five women who took hormone therapy died from breast cancer during the study, compared to 12 women in the placebo group.

"It is early in the follow-up and the number of breast cancer deaths will certainly substantially increase as we move forward," said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author of the study.

Women in the study who used estrogen and progestin for five and a half years -- which is considered long-term use of the therapy -- were at higher risk of getting breast cancer, said Chlebowksi.

Earlier results of this trial indicated a connection between synthetic hormone therapy -- commonly marketed as the drug Prempro -- and less aggressive forms of breast cancer.  However, results now suggest that women who took hormones may be at risk of any, including more aggressive and late-stage, forms of breast cancer.

"For women currently on HRT, I think it warrants a significant talk with their physician as to whether they warrant the therapy," said Dr. Jennifer Litton, assistant professor of breast oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Hormone replacement therapy includes medications containing female hormones to replace the ones the body no longer makes after menopause.  Although the FDA has only approved hormone replacement therapy to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and prevent hot flashes, the medication is also likely to be prescribed off-label to control groups of symptoms such as mood swings and dryness.

While experts said diet and exercise often curb these symptoms, hormone therapy is prescribed for women with severe symptoms. "For some women, these symptoms are so severe that it's life-altering," said Litton.

Chlebowski's study initially warned of a link between combination hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer in 2002.  Since then, many doctors have prescribed a variety of combinations, including lower-dose combinations of estrogen and progestin, or estrogen alone, without knowing what type of therapy might offer the greatest benefit to women.  Many doctors say they now prescribe lower doses of the hormones at shorter intervals.

"We significantly reduced use of HRT when the link to HRT first came out [in 2002]," said Dr. Randy Wexler, assistant professor of family medicine at Ohio State University.

"There is still a role for hormone therapy," said Dr. Hugh Taylor, director of reproductive endocrinology at Yale School of Medicine.

The concern lies mainly with the combination of estrogen and progestin and not on estrogen alone, according to Taylor.

"With low doses of of estrogen we can get away with small and infrequent progestin use," said Taylor. "Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Estrogen therapy is the only thing that works well and estrogen is not the cause of breast cancer."

But there's no scientific evidence that any variation of hormone therapy at any length of time provides a safer alternative. Litton said non-hormone therapies, such as antidepressants or acupuncture, may provide some women some benefit.

According to Dr. Dian Ginsberg, obstetrician and gynecologist at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, lifestyle changes during a women's premenopausal years may help women ease through their symptoms and divert hormone therapy altogether. "I hope that as we learn more about the hormone replacement pill not being the answer, we can maybe approach the woman differently in her 30s and 40s," said Ginsberg.

Still, she said the type of therapy depends on a woman's personal history and understanding the risk and that before abandoning hormone therapy, women should talk to their doctor.

"Don't throw your hormones out," said Ginsberg.  "Call your physician, go in, learn a little bit more about this study, go over your own medical background, and see a good way, potentially, to wean off your hormone."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio