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Nov 26, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- ELDERLY WOMEN OVER-SCREENED FOR CANCER

Women over age 70 in the United States undergo unnecessarily rigorous screening for cancers, a study suggests. Data collected from 1993 to 2000 by researchers at Duke University Medical Center find among 10,485 women over 70, a surprisingly large number received mammograms and Pap smears -- although little existing evidence recommends such screening. The result, they find, is a misdirected use of health care funds that could better serve younger women. Dr. Truls Ostbye says in the older population, where risk of death from other factors is higher, cancer screening is far less likely to significantly prolong lives. Researchers say while for some elderly patients screening may make sense because there is no evidence of other serious illness, others are being subjected to unnecessary procedures, largely due to fear of malpractice suits.


Health experts have some tips on staying fit while shopping and running errands this holiday season. The LifeWise Heart Truth Pledge, a national campaign to help women reduce their risks for heart disease, says you can exercise even if you can't make it to the gym:

-Dress like shopping is a sport -- in tennis shoes and comfortable clothes so you can power-walk and choose the stairs over the escalator.

-Wear a pedometer and aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps a day for optimum heart health. An average woman can burn as many as 300 calories walking for just one hour at the mall.

-While waiting in line do 100 calf raises or sets of bicep curls with shopping bags.

-Avoid those holiday snacks and pack a healthy lunch.


A recent online survey of 2,056 American heterosexual adults finds 6 out of 10 have never been tested for HIV/AIDS. In the private study conducted by Witeck-Combs Communications and Harris Interactive, 8 out of 10 reported they do not consider themselves at risk for the disease, prompting concern among health officials. "It is particularly alarming that 22 years into the AIDS epidemic, we are still faced with fundamental misunderstandings about HIV and AIDS," said Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis. "Eighty percent of heterosexuals are not getting tested because AIDS is still considered by many to be a 'gay' disease. However, HIV is contingent on risk behavior, and does not discriminate." The study also implicates health professionals in contributing to the low testing rates.


Researchers say people suffering from severe pain caused by damaged nerves have more treatment options than they did five years ago. Scientists and physicians have published the first set of guidelines for treating the 4 million to 6 million Americans suffering from chronic shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and other neuropathic pain conditions characterized by agonizing and haphazard pain. "This type of pain is very abnormal," says lead author Robert Dworkin, director of the Anesthesiology Clinical Research Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He says for most shingles patients, the painful rash heals in a matter of weeks and the pain is gone -- but 1 in 4 patients suffers from tremendous pain months or even years after the rash heals because of damage to the nerves, a condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Until recently, tricyclic antidepressants were the only commonly recognized treatment option. The new guidelines also offer gabapentin, originally developed as an anti-seizure medication; a lidocaine patch; narcotics such as oxycontin; and the painkiller tramadol.


(EDITORS: For more information on OVER-SCREENING contact Amy Austell at (919) 684-4148 or For SHOP FIT contact Allyson Lane at (212) 780-1900, ext 519, or For HIV TESTING contact Nancy Wong at (585) 214-7316 or For NEUROPATHIC PAIN contact Tom Rickey at (585) 275-7954

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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