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Late childbirth linked to high breast cancer risk

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New York, Dec 11: Women who had their first child after 35 may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer than their peers who do not have children, according to a study contrary to conventional wisdom that childbirth is protective against breast cancer.

Besides late childbirth, women who had a family history of breast cancer or who had a greater number of births also had an increased risk for breast cancer after childbirth. The pattern looked the same whether or not women breastfed.

While the risk was higher for women who were older at first birth, there was no increased risk of breast cancer after a recent birth for women who had their first child before 25, said researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US.

“This is evidence of the fact that just as breast cancer risk factors for young women can differ from risk factors in older women, there are different types of breast cancer, and the risk factors for developing one type versus another can differ,” said Hazel B. Nichols, Professor at the UNC.

Although childbirth is still protective against breast cancer, researchers say it can take more than two decades for benefits to emerge.

Breast cancer is more common in older women, with the median age of 62 at diagnosis. But, the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, identified elevated breast cancer risk after childbirth in women younger than 55.

In women 55 years and younger, breast cancer risk peaked about five years after they gave birth, with risk for mothers 80 per cent higher compared with women who did not gave birth.

Twenty-three years after giving birth, women saw their risk level off, and pregnancy started to become protective.

For their analysis, the team pooled data from 15 prospective studies from around the globe that included 889,944 women. In addition to looking at breast cancer risk after childbirth, they also evaluated the impact of other factors such as breastfeeding and a family history of breast cancer.

The findings could be used to develop better breast cancer risk prediction models to help inform screening decisions and prevention strategies, Nichols said.

IANS

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Half kg hair, shampoo sachets recovered from 13-yr-old’s stomach

The doctors took out a ball of hair and empty shampoo sachets from her stomach weighing about half a kilo.

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Chennai, Jan 28: The doctors at the VGM Gastro Centre in Coimbatore were baffled when they saw a ball of hair and empty shampoo sachets in the stomach of a 13-year-old girl after a CT scan followed by endoscopy.

Couple of weeks back, the girl from an upper strata family was brought to the hospital by her parents for severe stomach pain and lack of appetite.

“On preliminary physical investigation, we felt a lump inside her stomach and decided to do a CT scan. It was followed by endoscopy,” surgeon R. Gokul Krubashankar told IANS over phone from Coimbatore.

The doctors found the endoscopy tube being blocked.

“We told the parents that there is a ball of hair inside her stomach which has to be taken out by operating her. But the parents — well educated and both employed — were in a denial mode and went away. The next day they came back as the girl was suffering from severe pain,” Krubashankar said.

The doctors took out a ball of hair and empty shampoo sachets from her stomach weighing about half a kilo.

On further enquiry, it was learnt that the child was upset after her maternal uncle, who used to live abroad and was supposed to meet her soon, died suddenly some six months back.

“The girl was very much attached to her uncle and vice versa,” Krubashankar said.

He said the girl went into depression due to that trauma and started the strange habit of eating her own hair and empty shampoo packets.

The parents did not notice the behavioural changes in their daughter. She had thick hair and hence the hair loss was also not noticeable, he said.

According to Krubashankar, the girl has gone back home. The parents and the girl have been advised to undergo counselling.

“The parents have to undergo counselling so that they do not start pointing accusing fingers at their daughter, nor should they start monitoring her strictly as that could push the girl into further depression,” Krubashankar added.

The take home message from this case is that parents have to be alert in spotting any behavioural changes in their child. The other point is that even children could get into depression owing to a trauma, Krubashankar said.

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Walnuts can help you stay sharper at old age

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New York, Jan 28 Eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in at-risk groups of the elderly population, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that walnut consumption by healthy, elderly adults had little effect on cognitive function over two years, but it had greater effect on elderly adults who had smoked more and had a lower baseline neuropsychological test scores.

“While this was a minor result, it could lead to better outcomes when conducted over longer periods of time,” said study researcher Joan Sabate from Loma Linda University in the US.

“Further investigation is definitely warranted based on our findings, especially for disadvantaged populations, who may have the most to gain from incorporating walnuts and other nuts into their diet,” Sabate added.

The study examined nearly 640 free-living elders in Loma Linda, California, US, and in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. For two years, the test group included walnuts in their daily diet, and the control group abstained from walnuts.

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, which have previously been found to counteract oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are drivers of cognitive decline, the researchers said.

According to the researchers, this was the largest and most well-controlled trial ever conducted on the effects of nuts on cognition.

Sabate and his research team were the first to discover the cholesterol-lowering effect of nut consumption — specifically walnuts — with lowering blood cholesterol. Findings were first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993.

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94 percent middle school teachers suffer high stress levels: Study

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New York, Jan 28 Teachers and parents, please take a note. Researchers have found that 94 per cent of middle school teachers experience high levels of stress, which could contribute to negative outcomes for the students.

Reducing the burden of teaching, experienced by so many teachers, is critical to improving student success — both academically and behaviourally, the research added.

The study, which expands on work that looks at stress among elementary school teachers, provides additional evidence that teacher-stress might lead to negative outcomes for the students.

“Unfortunately, our findings suggest many teachers are not getting the support they need to adequately cope with the stressors of their jobs,” said study researcher Keith Herman from the University of Missouri in the US.

“The evidence is clear that teacher stress is related to student success, so it is critical that we find ways to reduce stressful school environments while also helping teachers cope with the demands of their jobs,” Herman added.

For the findings, published in the Journal of School Psychology, the research team studied data collected from nine middle schools in two neighbouring urban school districts in the Midwest.

Factors analysed included self-reported levels of teacher stress and coping, student disruptive and pro-social behaviour, and parent involvement.

The researchers found that nearly all teachers reported high stress. They also found that teachers varied in the ways they coped with stress.

The largest group, 66 per cent, reported high stress and high coping. Nearly one third of the participants, 28 per cent, reported high stress and low coping.

According to the study, only six per cent of middle school teachers reported low levels of stress and high coping ability.

“There are research-based tools that can help screen and identify teachers who might be at risk for problems related to stress, coping and the risk of burnout,” Herman said.

“Knowing what we know about how teacher stress can impact students, it is imperative that district and school leaders examine policies and practices that make the job less burdensome while also supporting teachers’ well-being,” Herman added.

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