Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Being circumcised may offer men a degree of protection against developing prostate cancer later in life, according to new research published in the journal BUJ International. The findings build on previous research that linked circumcision with lower risk of a number of sexually transmitted diseases as well as urinary tract infections and cancer of the penis.
More on the new research, which also found a significantly higher effect among African American men, from Reuters:
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Researchers suspect the connection may be the lower rate among circumcised men of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), which raise prostate cancer risk, but they caution that more study is needed to confirm that theory.
“It’s still premature to say go ahead with circumcision to prevent prostate cancer,” said lead author Marie-Elise Parent. “But, we think it could be helpful.”
Based on interviews with more than 3,000 men, her team found that those circumcised as infants were 14 percent less likely than uncircumcised men to develop prostate cancer. The men who had been circumcised as adults were 45 percent less likely to develop the cancer than uncircumcised men.
Researchers have long known that Muslim and Jewish men have lower rates of prostate cancer than men in the West, suggesting that circumcision may play a role in cancer risk, the study team writes in the British urology journal BJU International.
To investigate the connection, Parent, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Quebec’s INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier in Montreal, and her colleagues recruited 3,208 men in the Montreal area.
The participants were all between 40 and 75 years old when they were recruited and 1,590 of them had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The other 1,618 men did not have prostate cancer but were otherwise similar in health and age.
Between 2006 and 2011, all the men were interviewed at home, with in-depth questions about their health and lifestyle, medical history, family history of cancer and work history.
Overall, 40 percent of white men and 30 percent of black men interviewed were circumcised.
For the entire group, researchers found an 11 percent lower risk of having prostate cancer among circumcised men, but noted that it was not statistically significant, meaning it could have been due to chance.
The team did find a significant difference among circumcised black men, who were 60 percent less likely than uncircumcised men to have prostate cancer.
“Black men have the highest rate (of prostate cancer) on the planet and we don’t know why,” Parent told Reuters Health. “It’s really puzzling trying to figure out why this cancer is so common in men that live in industrialized countries, when we understand so little about what’s going on with it and have no way of preventing it.”
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Parents who are involved in active play with their children during their toddler and preschool years may have better academic performance to look forward to, according to new research by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The findings come from a study of African American boys who were transitioning from preschool to kindergarten.
“The transition to kindergarten can be challenging for many children due to new expectations, social interactions, and physiological changes,” said Iheoma Iruka, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Transitions may be even more arduous for African American boys, given the many challenges they are likely to face compared to their peers.”
Iruka found four patterns for African American boys after they transitioned—and her team also demonstrated the key role that parenting plays in these outcomes.
Just over half the boys (51%) showed increases in language, reading, and math scores in kindergarten, but a sizeable group (19%) consisted of low achievers in preschool who declined even further academically after transition. The smallest group (11%) included early achievers who declined in kindergarten both academically and behaviorally; by contrast, 20% of the boys in the study comprised a group of early achievers who remained on their high-performing academic and social paths after the transition.
According to Iruka, the results clearly suggest that some African American boys experience challenges to their academic achievement and social skills as they move into to kindergarten.
“In addition, the two groups of early achievers is especially revealing about the importance of effective parenting,” she said. “African American boys from homes where mothers frequently engaged in literacy activities and intentional teaching—and other activities like playing games and taking the child on errands—were likely to be in the high achieving groups.”
Iruka’s study also showed that parent-child interactions influence whether a high-achieving African American boy stays on course.
“It’s important to note that the early achievers who declined academically and socially were more likely to be from homes in which the parents were inattentive,” she said. “The group of boys with detached parents showed a significant decrease in their reading and math scores and an increase in aggression during the preschool-to-kindergarten transition.”
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Image: African American boy, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
A new study of U.S. school children has found that black and Hispanic children are half as likely as their white peers to receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More from Reuters:
“We’re seeing that the disparities occur as early as kindergarten and then remain and continue until the end of eighth grade,” said Paul Morgan, who led the study at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
“It’s a consistent pattern of what we’re interpreting as comparative underdiagnosis for minority populations,” he told Reuters Health.
That’s a concern, Morgan said, because it means some kids who could benefit from treatment – including medication or talk therapy – and extra help in the classroom may be missing out.
The researchers also found that compared to white children with the condition, minority kids who were diagnosed with ADHD were less likely to be prescribed medications, which include the stimulants Vyvanse, Ritalin and Concerta.
They tracked 15,100 kids from the kindergarten class of 1998-1999 using regular parent surveys.
Image: Latino child, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Fussy infants are more likely to be put in front of a television in a parent’s attempt to calm and occupy them, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. The finding is despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children not be shown television until age 2. More from Time.com:
In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers analyzed data from 217 African-American mother and infant pairs from the Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study. At 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18 months after birth, the infants’ mothers reported on their babies’ temperament—how fussy or complacent they were—as well as their own TV viewing habits, including how long the TV was on during the day and how often they fed their babies while watching TV. Overall, mothers spent a significant amount of time watching television, and reported that they spent quite a bit of time feeding their infants in front of the TV as well. Infants just 3 months old were exposed to an average of nearly three hours of TV or videos daily, and nearly 40% of the youngsters were exposed to three hours of TV every day by the time they were a year old.
More active and fussier infants were more likely to spend extended periods of time in front of the TV. The exposure was also higher among obese mothers, especially those with the fussier kids, leading the researchers to suggest that the television may serve as an easy entertainment strategy.
The scientists were also able to find some factors that contribute to fewer hours in front of the screen, however. Moms with a high school diploma or any additional education were less likely to have TVs in their infants’ room, and less likely to keep the television on during meals.
“In the last decade or so there has been a lot of attention paid to parenting style and care giving. One component has to do with feeding and focus placed on the feeding environment,” says Margaret E. Bentley, Associate Dean of Global Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and the principal investigator of the study. “Half of the time, infants are being fed with the television on, which is a feeding strategy we do not recommend.”
Eating in front of the television can lead to unhealthy dining habits that linger into childhood and adulthood, Bentley and her colleagues say, since mothers feeding infants while watching TV might be distracted and not as alert to subtle cues babies send when they feel full, which can lead to overfeeding.
Image: Baby watching television, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
When shown a picture of two children on a playground, African-American children are more optimistic than white kids in their interpretations of the scene, a new study has found. CNN.com reports:
The pictures, designed to be ambiguous, are at the heart of a groundbreaking new study on children and race commissioned by CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°. White and black kids were asked: “What’s happening in this picture?”, “Are these two children friends?” and “Would their parents like it if they were friends?” The study found a chasm between the races as young as age 6.
Overall, black first-graders had far more positive interpretations of the images than white first-graders. The majority of black 6-year-olds were much more likely to say things like, “Chris is helping Alex up off the ground” versus “Chris pushed Alex off the swing.”
They were also far more likely to think the children pictured are friends and to believe their parents would like them to be friends. In fact, only 38% of black children had a negative interpretation of the pictures, whereas almost double — a full 70% of white kids — felt something negative was happening.
Researchers say that the findings reveal the different ways parents talk to their children about race. “African American parents … are very early on preparing their children for the world of diversity and also for the world of potential discrimination,” child psychologist and University of Maryland Melanie Killen told CNN. “They’re certainly talking about issues of race and what it means to be a different race and when it matters and when it doesn’t matter.”
Image: African-American and white girls, via Shutterstock.
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