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Apr 07, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- SENIOR WOMEN URGED TO GET MAMMOGRAMS

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging is urging senior women to take advantage of Medicare's coverage for mammograms. Chairman Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, says only one-half of eligible women get the potentially life-saving diagnostic, even though Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost, which usually runs from $100 to $150. Statistics show one in eight women will develop breast cancer -- but if cancers are detected early the five-year survival rate is 97 percent, Craig said. Physicians recommend getting an annual mammogram starting at age 40. For low-income, under-insured or uninsured women, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program pays all or some of the cost of screening.

PAY MORE ATTENTION TO STDS

Public health officials say people need to be more aware of how they might get sexually transmitted diseases. An American Social Health Association survey finds nearly all respondents felt their sexual partners were disease-free but one in three never discussed the topic with their significant other. About half of respondents also did not know STDs include hepatitis A and B -- which are preventable through vaccination. It is estimated one-quarter of Americans will contract an STD in their lifetime -- and only a few are curable. While HIV and herpes get the most attention, hepatitis B is actually 100 times more infectious than HIV.

VOLUNTEERING GOOD FOR YOUNG AND OLD

Seniors who volunteered at inner-city elementary schools saw improved physical, social and cognitive ability, a series of studies find. The reports, in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, cover the first randomized controlled trial of the national "Experience Corps" program, now in 18 cities. The program not only helped children in an underserved Baltimore area, it also provided needed mental and physical stimulation for seniors, researchers said. After working with the children for four to eight months, seniors' physical activity, strength, social networks and cognitive activity increased "significantly," the studied found. Among the students, achievement improved and negative and antisocial behaviors decreased during the study period.

NEW DATA ON GROWTH HORMONE CONTROVERSY

A National Institutes of Health study finds most people who took human growth hormones from cadavers did not develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This was the largest study designed to track the development of the fatal disease and it found 26 out of approximately 7,700 did develop CJD after taking the growth hormone. Fifty-nine people died from adrenal crisis, a sometimes-fatal complication that can be prevented if treated promptly. Human growth hormone is now manufactured synthetically, which does not transmit CJD. The study is reported in the April edition of the Journal of Pediatrics. Growth hormone deficiency results from a failure of the pituitary gland to make sufficient amounts of the hormone. Individuals who lack growth hormone are abnormally short.

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(EDITORS: For more information about MAMMOGRAMS, contract Jeff Schrade at (202) 224-8710. For STDS, contact Vilena Katanova at (212) 798-9737. For VOLUNTEERS, contact Kathryn Cervino at (212) 822-7285. For GROWTH HORMONE, contact Robert Bock or Marianne Glass Duffy at (301) 496-5133)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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