A look at the most intriguing health headlines this week.
We’ve just about had it up to HERE with breast cancer, what with all the women we know getting diagnosed and treated. Families, friends, young, not-so-young—sometimes it seems no one is safe. The disease itself is one thing, but then there are the treatments. Not only does the typical course of chemo/radiation/surgery zap patients of their energy, appetite, enthusiasm—most everything that gives life its pleasure—there’s no guarantee that they will keep the cancer from coming back. So when we came across this study showing that a natural formula including medicinal mushrooms and herbs seemed to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in mice WITH NO TOXIC SIDE EFFECTS, we felt a little surge of hope. Now, a mouse study is just one notch up from a test-tube study; it doesn’t prove that the treatment will work in humans. But it’s exciting to see natural remedies being investigated and showing some promise.
A full 26.2-mile marathon—or even half that distance—is tough enough for relatively fit folks with all body parts working properly. So when 32-year-old Clare Lomas, who is paralyzed from the chest down, finished the London Marathon course this week with the help of a “bionic” suit, it was nothing short of a miracle. Yes, Lomas completed the marathon over 16 days, walking approximately 2 miles a day. But that doesn’t detract from the achievement of Lomas, who broke her neck, ribs and back in a horse riding accident five years ago, and the makers of the ReWalk Suit, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Former NFL players may be suing the league for not adequately protecting them from concussions, but they’re grown men. What about all the kids involved in youth sports? This New York Times blog post covering a new study suggesting that younger athletes and those who are female show more symptoms and take longer to recover from concussions than male or older athletes should give any soccer mom or dad pause. Not only are girls at higher risk of sustaining concussions than boys playing the same sport, but the trauma inflicted appeared to be more severe. Memory impairments lingered longer in girls than in boys, and about two to three times longer in high school athletes compared to college athletes. All the more reason for parents to know what their kids are getting into when they sign up for a sport, make sure they’re developmentally and physically fit for the sport, and to understand and watch for the symptoms of concussion in their young athletes.
And for the shocker of the week: An amazing number of pregnant women, despite all the warnings and unabashed distained for such behavior from most quarters, are still smoking. That’s right—when we saw Betty Draper light one up on Mad Men, baby belly and all, we thought we were seeing a blast from the past, but apparently not so. According to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 22 percent of pregnant white women, 14 percent of pregnant black women and 6.5 percent of Hispanic women aged 15 to 44 smoked cigarettes within the previous 30 days. Makes you want to get involved in a stop smoking campaign, huh? The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (who will hopefully become tobacco-free adults) holds National Kick Butts Day each March, but also has events year-round. http://www.kickbuttsday.org/