Shorter Breast Cancer Treatment Proves Effective
A shorter course of intensive radiation may be as effective as a longer course in treating some breast cancer patients, according to new research presented this week at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's meeting in Boston. The long-term study looked at 1,234 women who had early-stage breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy. The women then had either standard radiation treatment, lasting five weeks, or a shorter course of therapy lasting three weeks. After 10 years, about 6.2 percent of women who got the shorter therapy saw their breast cancer return, compared with 6.7 percent of women who received a longer course of radiation, HealthDay reports. Both groups also had similar cosmetic results, and no differences in radiation-associated side effects were observed.
Flu Vaccines Recommended for Kids 18 and Younger
For the first time, the federal government is recommending that all children ages 6 months to 18 years get seasonal influenza immunizations. That means an additional 30 million children should have flu shots, starting this month. Kids who have never had a flu shot before should get two shots, spaced at least a month apart. Texas pediatrician Carol J. Baker, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—which approved the new national flu guidelines in February—argues that getting children vaccinated against the flu is a key step in protecting the health of all.
New Contraception Rule Could Take Effect This Week
A newly proposed federal rule, designed to protect healthcare providers from being denied employment or fired if they refuse to administer emergency contraception or certain forms of birth control because of their religious or moral beliefs, could become a reality on September 25, Deborah Kotz reports. Dozens of health organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have voiced their opposition to the proposal, saying that such a rule would deny women access to full reproductive care. The proposed rule states: "Any entity, including a state or local government, that carries out any part of any health service program funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services...shall not require any individual to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded by the Department if such service or activity would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions."
Controlling High Blood Pressure
About 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure, but many people don't do a good job of controlling the problem because medications can be pricey. And doctors may not be doing all they can, either. According to new research released last week during the annual meeting of the American Heart Association's Council for High Blood Pressure Research, many doctors fail to follow national guidelines that call for treating people above the 120/80 level.
Adam Voiland lists five cheap ways to lower your blood pressure.
—January W. Payne