HRT May Do More Harm Than Good For Disease Prevention, Says U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Post-menopausal women should not undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce their risks of chronic disease, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says. The Task Force—a panel of doctors who advises the government on medical policy—published their recommendations Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "In the past, it was thought that taking hormones after menopause ended might reduce a woman's risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease or dementia," Task Force member Kirstin Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, said to CBS News in an e-mailed statement. "However, its use in this way does not help prevent these conditions and may even increase a woman's chance of developing them." The task force's recommendation does not, however, apply to the use of hormones to treat menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes.
The risks and benefits of HRT have been hotly debated. In 2002, a major Women's Health Initiative study found evidence that HRT may lead to breast cancer. However, both the WHI study and the Task Force's recommendations seem to counter the results of an October 9 Danish study that analyzed slightly younger women. For menopausal women, taking HRT soon after experiencing menopause symptoms may reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack or heart failure, the Danish study suggests.
New Hope for a Nasty Gut Bug
What's worse than diarrhea? Recurring diarrhea, not to mention abdominal pain and a colon so inflamed it could kill you.
For people suffering from an increasingly common bacterial infection known as Clostridium difficile, life can look pretty bleak. And so, an unconventional and, at first blush, unseemly treatment that has found anecdotal success is being considered for mainstream use. It's called a fecal transplant and, yes, that's exactly what it sounds like: implanting stool from a healthy donor into the gut of a sick patient.
The fecal transplant is considered when antibiotics repeatedly fail to get rid of the bug. In fact, antibiotics are largely to blame for the increasing frequency and severity of C. difficile infections, which are associated with 14,000 U.S. deaths a year. Although C. difficile infections aren't always problematic, they have increasingly become so, particularly among healthcare facilities and the elderly, who are at the greatest risk of dying from the bug. But it's also spread in the community and can cause serious harm to anyone, even kids. This week, the Mayo Clinic released a study based on five years of data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, finding that among some 13.7 million hospitalized children, the 46,176 with C. difficile infections had substantially longer hospital stays, greater incidences of colon removal, and a higher risk of death. [Read more: New Hope for a Nasty Gut Bug]
- 4 Common Diarrhea Causes—and What to Do if You Get Sick
- 8 Common Digestive Problems and How to End Them
Does Exercise Distort Your Perception of Hunger?
Should you trust your hunger meter after a workout? Two studies published this year reported that contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn't make people hungrier. In fact, results showed that brisk exercise can decrease interest in food, writes U.S. News blogger Chelsea Bush.
But other experiments have turned up evidence to the contrary. Some researchers have found that not only does exercise cause a perceived need to eat more, but that our pleasure response to food is heightened following a workout—and that even thinking about exercise can whet our appetites.
So does exercise make us hungry or doesn't it? And if it does, should it? The relationship between physical activity and calorie compensation seems to have proved complex, not just for the average person, but for scientists, as well.
A Perfect Cure for the Midday Munchies?
The most recent study to challenge the notion that people can "work up an appetite" came from Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. In the study, 35 women were shown pictures of food, once after a brisk 45-minute morning walk and again a week later, at the same time of day but following no exercise. During the slideshow, an electroencephalogram (EEG) that measured activity in the food reward regions of participants' brains showed decreased desire for food, aka food motivation, after the workout. (Interestingly, though food reward effects were lower on exercise day, participants reported eating approximately the same amount after viewing the food pictures on both days.) [Read more: Does Exercise Distort Your Perception of Hunger?]