Routine Breast Scans Don’t Affect Mortality  (Globe & Mail)
Screening programs in which post-menopausal women undergo routine mammography to help detect tumours have virtually no impact on reducing breast-cancer deaths, a new study concludes.
The research, published in today’s [Mar. 24] edition of the British Medical Journal, says that while breast-cancer mortality has fallen sharply over the years, there is no evidence this is due to systematic screening. Rather, the gains are likely due to better treatment and heightened awareness among women about breast health…More …(Full BMJ article accessible here .)
Mom’s Kiss Can Spread Cavities to Baby  (MSNBC)
…Studies about the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mom to baby have been published for 30 years. The primary culprit is Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that can pass from person to person through the transfer of saliva, such as sharing utensils, blowing on food, and yes, even kissing that sweet little bundle of joy on the mouth.
According to a 2008 study in Pediatric Dentistry, “strong evidence demonstrated that mothers are a primary source of MS [mutans streptococci] colonization of their children; a few investigations showed other potential sources … notably fathers.”
“There have been many, many studies,” said Dr. Jane Soxman, a pediatric dentist from Allison Park, Pa. “It’s well-documented. You can’t blame it all on kissing a child on the lips – that’s one of several different factors that would have to be working together. But the main thing to know is that tooth decay is a bacterial infection and you can spread it from one person to another during the window of infectivity, which is during infancy and especially during the time of tooth eruption. That’s when the teeth are most vulnerable. It’s as if you had a bad cold and were kissing your child, you would spread the cold virus”…More …
High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring, Research Suggests  (ScienceDaily)
High fructose corn syrup, which some studies have linked to obesity, may also be harmful to the liver, according to Duke University Medical Center research.
“We found that increased consumption of high fructose corn syrup was associated with scarring in the liver, or fibrosis, among patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),” said Manal Abdelmalek, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology/ Hepatology at Duke University Medical Center…More …
Study Finds Flaxseed Lowers High Cholesterol in Men  (PhysOrg)
Suzanne Hendrich, an ISU professor in food science and human nutrition, led a study that examined the effects of flaxseed lignan in 90 people diagnosed with high cholesterol. The results showed that consuming at least 150 milligrams of flaxseed lignans per day (about three tablespoons) decreased cholesterol in men, but not women, by just under 10 percent over the three months that they were given the flaxseed.
While Hendrich admits that’s considerably less than the expected outcome from cholesterol-lowering drugs – approximately 10 to20 percent for three months, depending on the individual – it’s still enough to make flaxseed a more natural option for some men…More …
Identical Twins May Not Be So Identical When It Comes to Gut Bacteria  (ScienceNews)
Identical twins may share appearances, mannerisms, even clothes — but the microbes living in their guts are anything but the same. By comprehensively sequencing microbial genes in the gut, researchers have found that communities of bacteria in adult identical twins differ dramatically. The findings, to appear online during the week of March 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, give scientists a deeper understanding of what makes one person’s intestinal bacteria different from another’s.
Figuring out what’s behind the composition and function of a person’s gut bacteria is “a very important problem,” comments microbiologist Frederic Bushman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Bacteria in the intestines spur digestion, manufacture vitamins and keep people healthy; changes in gut bacteria have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome and metabolic disorders. Because of their role in breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from food, gut bacteria may even influence a person’s weight…More …
The collection of symptoms that is the metabolic syndrome — insulin resistance, high cholesterol, fatty liver, and a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke — are all related to obesity, but, according to a review in the March 9th issue of the Cell Press publication Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, not in the way you probably think they are.
In fact, says Roger Unger of the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas, obesity is the body’s way of storing lipids where they belong, in fat tissue, in an effort to protect our other organs from lipids’ toxic effects. It’s when the surplus of calories coming in gets to be too much for our fat tissue to handle that those lipids wind up in other places they shouldn’t be, and the cascade of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome sets in…More …
Optimism Boosts the Immune System  (PhysOrg)
Feeling better about the future might help you feel better for real. In a new study, psychological scientists Suzanne Segerstrom of the University of Kentucky and Sandra Sephton of the University of Louisville studied how law students’ expectations about the future affected their immune response. Their conclusions: Optimism may be good for your health.
Other studies have found that people who are optimistic about their health tend to do better. For example, people who are optimistic about heart transplant surgery recover better from that grueling operation. But it’s not clear how optimism affects your health – or whether pessimism makes you less healthy…More …