Health Buzz: HRT May Be More Than Safe, Study Says

How safe are your cosmetics? Plus: It's time to reclaim our kitchens

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Study: Hormone Replacement Therapy Reduces Risks of Heart Attacks, Heart Failure

For menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may reduce the risk of dying from heart attack and heart failure, a new study suggests. Researchers in Denmark followed about 1,000 women ages 45 to 58, who had not previously had cancer or any other major illness, reports ABC News. Soon after these women began experiencing menopause symptoms, half the group received HRT, and half the group did not. After 10 years, when the HRT group was encouraged to stop getting the therapy, researchers found that about half as many of them suffered heart problems and heart-related deaths than the women in the non-HRT group, according to The Telegraph. After six more years, women who were not taking the HRT were still 40 percent more likely to have heart problems or die.

The study, published yesterday in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal), did not show that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, which counters the results of a 2002 Women's Health Initiative study. However, the WHI study analyzed older women, between 50 and 79, who may have already been deep into menopause when starting the therapy. Plus, many of the WHI study participants already had chronic diseases, ABC News says. Tobie de Villiers, president of the International Menopause Society, stressed to the The Telegraph that women in the new study began treatment at younger ages, early into menopause. "This study is of great importance as it reflects what happens in real life where women start taking HRT at the time of the menopause," he said. "In this study HRT did not cause any major harm, and indeed resulted in significant benefits."

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  • How Safe Are Your Cosmetics?

    Most of us probably don't give much thought to our morning rituals, to the extent that we're even awake during them. But the parade of personal care products Americans use each day—from toothpaste and shampoo to lipstick and aftershave—can affect us more than we realize. At issue are the chemical ingredients they contain and the extent to which they pose any risk to consumers. Just as Americans have developed an appetite for pesticide-free foods and all things organic, so too have they turned their attention to the make up of makeup.

    Mounting research on the subject has raised questions and stoked concern about the potential toxicity of certain chemicals and has led to calls for increased regulation of the beauty business. Fragrance, in particular, has become a source of concern due to the unlisted ingredients behind the scents. A study of 17 popular fragrances by the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, advocacy groups focused on exposing products they deem hazardous to health, found 14 undisclosed chemicals, on average. Among them were phthalates, which are used to soften plastic and have been linked to various ailments.

    Last week, in fact, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance were lobbying members of Congress to pass the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, which, among other things, would require product labels to list all ingredients and authorize the Food and Drug Administration to recall products and discontinue ingredients that may cause "serious adverse health effects." The groups are also pressing the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors to recall hair-straightening treatments that contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen that they say jeopardizes the health of salon workers. [Read more: How Safe Are Your Cosmetics?]

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    • It's Time to Reclaim Our Kitchens

      I have a confession to make, writes U.S. News blogger Yoni Freedhoff. Last weekend, I took my two youngest children out to breakfast. I was supposed to be joining my wife and oldest at a charitable race, but because the weather outside was dreary, I lazily decided to head to a local greasy spoon with the wee ones as the outing would serve to not only feed, but also entertain them. My 3-year-old ordered the $3.99 kids' chocolate pancake and my 5-year-old got the $3.99 waffle with whipped cream. When the meals arrived, I was flabbergasted to see two full-size dinner plates—one with a gigantic pancake, and the other, with a plate-filling waffle.