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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Survey: Supermarket shoppers see no signs of economic recovery

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK A new nationwide study conducted on behalf of the Private Label Manufacturers Association found that more than 8-out-of-10 supermarket shoppers see no improvement in the economy, and 40% actually believe things have gotten worse, suggesting there is no immediate recovery in the offing.

As consumers continue to cope, the study affirms, the appeal of store brand products is stronger than ever as shoppers continue to shop for value.

When asked how they think the economy will impact their supermarket shopping habits, more than two-thirds said they will take advantage of discounts by buying larger sizes or quantities for items they regularly purchase; two-thirds will look for more coupons and promotions on national brands; and about a third plan to change the stores or types of stores where they do their primary grocery shopping, the survey found.

When asked how important economic conditions were in deciding to buy a supermarket store brand, four in ten responded “very important.” A solid majority of consumers — more than 60% — affirmed they plan on buying more private label as they attempt to stretch their food dollars. Some 57% said they buy private label products frequently, a figure that has been increasing — it was under 55% a year ago, PLMA noted.

And some 43% reported they recently have forsaken a familiar national brand for a private label counterpart, a marked increase since the June 2009 when only 35% said they had done so.

The findings are based on a poll of nearly 800 main household grocery shoppers conducted in February 2010 by GfK Custom Research North America for PLMA. The full report, entitled “Recession, Recovery and Store Brands: What Consumers Are Saying Now,” is available for download at http://cli.gs/PLMAGfKRpt.

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