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Sep 19, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- LONGER COMMUTE, BETTER CANCER SURVIVAL

Cancer patients who travel more than 15 miles to undergo therapy appear to survive longer than those who live nearer their treatment center, scientists report. They found patients who commuted at least 15 miles were one-third more likely to live longer than those living closer. For every 10 miles on the road, the death risk decreased by 3.2 percent, the researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "This does not mean that time on the highway is curative," said senior study author Dr. Everett Vokes, professor of medicine and chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago. "It does suggest that distance is a good marker for some unmeasured resource -- such as access to health care options, personality traits like compliance or motivation or a supportive social network -- that we don't yet know how to assess."

DON'T BLAME HYPERTENSION

Hypertension does not play a key part in the dangerous ballooning of blood vessels near the heart, as had been thought, scientists say. The Mayo Clinic study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, notes high blood pressure and other risk factors for dangerous plaque buildup are important in numerous diseases -- but not in the dilation of the aorta, a major blood thoroughfare from the heart. "Atherosclerotic plaques and the risk factors that cause them, including hypertension, classically have been considered important potential causes of the expansion of the aorta," said study author and cardiologist Dr. Bijoy Khandheria. "Intuitively, it makes sense that high blood pressure would stretch the vessel walls and make them more likely to become enlarged. This study shows that while these risk factors are highly important in a host of diseases and conditions, they are bit players when it comes to causing the dilatation of the aorta that can lead to aneurysm." The scientists found age, gender and body size accounted for 33 percent or more of the cases of aortic dilatation, while atherosclerosis and related risk factors only explained 3 percent.

FOREARM BREAKS IN TEENS ON RISE

Doctors have noted a big increase in the number of forearm fractures in adolescent boys and girls. The Mayo Clinic study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows such breaks among young people increased by 42 percent over the past 30 years. During childhood, the incidence of distal forearm fractures, those located near the wrist, typically peaks around age 12 in girls and 14 in boys. Previous studies have shown most of the fractures occur during the growth spurt of puberty. "Our study (indicates) there has been a substantial increase in these fractures that is of some concern," said primary investigator Dr. Sundeep Khosla. The study does not explain the reason for the increase, Khosla said. It could be due to changes in bone-mass development influenced by lack of physical activity and decrease in milk consumption, scientists said. The study points to the possibility there will be a corresponding increase in hip fractures and other breaks when these youngsters become older adults, said co-author Dr. L. Joseph Melton III, an expert in the epidemiology of osteoporosis.

SCIENTISTS LINK MIGRAINES, BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS

Research reveals a possible connection between migraines and behavioral disorders in children. Scientists note migraines and such behavioral conditions as attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder are common in children. Scientists at Columbus Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, say they have evidence to suggest a relationship between pediatric migraines and the behavioral disorder ODD. "Until now, there was no evidence to support co-morbidities (co-existence) of behavioral disorders in children with migraines," said Dr. Ann Pakalnis, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and neurology. "Parental reports of disruptive behavior are common in pediatric migraines. Children with migraines miss more school and often lose sleep, which can contribute to the types of behavioral symptoms often associated with ADD, CD and ODD, but this is the first study to demonstrate that there could be a direct link between migraines and behavioral disorders." Understanding this relationship will help scientists develop better treatment options and enable healthcare providers to better counsel the parents of migraine sufferers, Pakalnis said.

(Editors: For more information about COMMUTE, contact John Easton at (773) 702-6241 or jeaston@uchospitals.edu. For HYPERTENSION, Lee Aase at (507) 266-2442 or newsbureau@mayo.edu. For FRACTURES, Cathy Stroebel at (507) 284-9776 or newsbureau@mayo.edu. For MIGRAINES, Pam Barber at (614) 722-4598)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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