Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Most children who get multiple X-ray and CT scans because of heart disease don’t face a significantly higher risk of developing cancer later in childhood because of the scans’ radiation, according to new research conducted by Duke University cardiologists. Some kids–especially girls–do face a higher risk of cancer than others, so doctors are urged to take steps to reduce the radiation exposure from the scans. More from NBC News:
It’s an issue because children are three to four times more likely to develop cancer from exposure to ionizing radiation like that given in an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan. “Radiation exposure in childhood is of particular concern because children have immature developing organ and tissue structures,” Hill’s team wrote in their report, published in the journal Circulation.
These kids got an awful lot of imaging — 13,932 X-rays, CT scans and other procedures before, during and after surgery. The X-rays didn’t deliver much radiation at all, Hill’s team found.
The big culprits are cardiac catheterization exams and CT scans. They can deliver up to 1,800 times more radiation than a standard X-ray. Children who got many of these complicated and time-consuming scans did get enough radiation to triple their risk of cancer, Hill found.
On average, children don’t have a high risk of cancer, though, so even doubling or tripling that very low risk still doesn’t make them very likely to develop cancer.
“Even though their risk is threefold greater, it is not necessarily a high risk,” Hill said. “I think it is important for parents to understand that there is a small amount of risk.”
Doctors can and should do their best to minimize radiation exposure, Hill said. New technology can help with this, as can techniques that make it necessary to use the shortest possible burst of radiation.
Image: Chest X-ray, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 14th, 2014
Teenagers are more likely to agree to wear sunscreen on a regular basis after hearing about the premature aging sun exposure can cause, a new study has found. Similar information about how the sun’s rays increase the risk of potentially life-threatening skin cancer, however, did not prove as motivational to the teens studied. More from Reuters:
“Vanity is more of a driving force to use sunscreen, as opposed to the fear factor of developing skin cancer,” the study’s lead author, William Tuong, told Reuters Health. Tuong is a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, Davis.
In his study, high school students applied sunblock three times as often if they watched a video showing how it could prevent their skin from wrinkling than if they watched a video showing how sun exposure causes melanoma.
Fifty Sacramento 11th-grade students participated in the study and saw one of two educational videos urging them to lather on sunscreen.
Tuong developed the five-minute videos to test the theory that teenagers were more likely to respond to messages about appearance than to messages about health.
A young, attractive woman speaks directly to youth in both videos.
In one, the actress emphasizes the growing incidence of melanoma in young people and the link between the deadliest form of skin cancer and ultraviolet light. In the other video, the same actress discusses how ultraviolet light contributes to premature aging and “can make you look older and less attractive.”
“We are not trying to look like our grandparents, right?” the actress says. “Have you seen what the sun can do to a grape? It gets shriveled and wrinkled. Raisins are not cute,” she says.
“I don’t want to look like a raisin face, and I don’t think you want to either,” she continues. “The sun causes wrinkles, dark spots, uneven skin tones, sagging skin and rough, leathery skin. These are all the things that will make you look older and definitely less sexy.”
Image: Teen wearing sunscreen, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Fourteen-year-old Will Hart has made headlines, and cast a positive light on a very snowy winter, by creating a simple message into the snow on top of a parking garage visible from his mother’s hospital room, where she is undergoing treatment for a recently diagnosed leukemia. Today.com reports:
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To boost her spirits, the teen made a simple gesture that brought joy not only to his mom, Shari Hart, but to many others at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago as well.
On Saturday, as Will headed to the hospital with his dad and uncle, the trio shuffled their feet through the snow on top of a parking garage to form a message from Will: “Hi Mom,” with a smiley face inside the O just for fun.
From the garage across the street, he called Hart and coaxed her to her 14th floor window, where she proudly waved down to her son. The snowy note came as Hart, who has acute myeloid leukemia, was exhausted from chemotherapy.
“It was very sweet and I felt very uplifted,” said Hart, 48. “My son is an amazing 14-year-old with an ability to make me smile any time of day.”
It’s not the only heartwarming snow message appearing outside of hospitals. Earlier this week, an unknown woman and man stomped the word “Love” and a peace symbol outside of the St. Cloud Hospital in Minnesota.
After visiting his wife in the hospital, Hart’s husband, Tim, felt the trio should add to their message to inspire fellow patients and the doctors and nurses caring for them. They planned for “God Bless You All,” but ran out of space, with room only for: “God Bless U” in large capital letters.
“It was a proud mommy moment, and being married to someone who wants to send a message to so many people is beyond wonderful,” said Hart, married for 24 years. “The amount of love there is just incredible.”
Will noticed that people were watching from other windows in the hospital, some waving and jumping up and down with excitement.
One of those was Angela Washek, a surgical intensive care unit nurse, who snapped a photo and shared it with hospital officials. After the hospital posted the photo on its Facebook page Monday, Will’s 18-year-old sister, Hannah, identified her family. “It brought joy to my whole unit and our patients’ families just as much as I’m sure it brought joy to your family,” Washek wrote on Facebook to Hannah.
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Only about a third of American girls–and less than 7 percent of boys–received the vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, in 2012, a number that is too low for what public health officials had hoped would take hold when the vaccine was first introduced. This is the finding of a report from the President’s Cancer Panel, which urged action to improve vaccination rates in order to prevent cervical, vaginal, anal, and some oral cancers.
Among other recommendations, the panel suggests that pharmacists be allowed to administer the vaccines, and that pediatricians be proactive in recommending the vaccine to patients.
The panel’s report has slightly different data from earlier findings, such as one report from the CDC that 1 in 5 boys are receiving the vaccine, and another CDC report, released in 2013, that said half of girls receive the vaccine.
The vaccine was first recommended for girls ages 11 and 12 beginning in 2006, and then recommended for boys in 2011.
Help your family get healthier in 12 short weeks with our program.
Image: Child getting a vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Mothers of young children may opt to forgo recommended radiation therapy for breast cancer, citing concerns over the amount of time the treatment involves. This is the finding of a new study that is one of the first to suggest a significant link between child care concerns and breast cancer treatment decisions. More from Reuters:
In particular, women who had a breast tumor removed were less likely to undergo radiation therapy afterwards if they had kids age seven or younger at home.
About 81 percent of women surveyed in the study who had younger kids received radiation therapy. The rates of radiation therapy for women with older kids or none at all ranged between 84 and 87 percent.
Put another way, one in five women with young kids in the study skipped potentially life-saving post-surgery treatment, said Ya-Chen Tina Shih, an economist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago in Illinois who co-led the study.
“We were surprised because women in the younger age range have the longest life expectancy, so we expected to see a higher compliance rate among them,” she told Reuters Health.
“Women may think, ‘I really need to take care of the kids at home,’ and they may act on what they believe is most important at that time,” Shih said.
“But they may not be aware of how important radiation therapy is.”
Women who have “lumpectomy” surgery to remove a breast tumor – the researchers did not include patients who had mastectomies – are usually advised to follow up with radiation therapy, which requires a serious time commitment. The radiation treatments take up to an hour, five days a week, for up to seven weeks, the researchers report.
Image: Young woman having MRI, via Shutterstock
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