CIGARETTE ADS CAN UNDERMINE PARENTS
Although teens with more permissive parents generally are more likely to start smoking, cigarette advertising can sway teens with authoritative parents as well. "It is possible that adolescents whose parents strive to keep them from engaging in risk behaviors, such as smoking, comprise a high-yield market segment for the tobacco industry," University of California at San Diego researchers said. "If true, it would appear that cigarette advertising and promotion strategies are designed to undermine recommended parenting practices." The researchers found promotional marketing strategies that offer free items with the purchase of cigarettes seem to be extremely effective with teenagers, negating the efforts of parents. "(The fact) that tobacco-industry marketing activity is growing so rapidly in ... retail-value-added strategies must be a cause for concern to the public health community. These marketing actions directly contradict the much-publicized claim that the tobacco industry does not want kids to smoke," researchers said, adding that parents must fight the influence of cigarette ads by explaining to their teens how marketing works, and putting them on guard against the message to smoke.
SOME BREAST CANCER CHEMOTHERAPY NOT NEEDED
Chemotherapy following surgery for postmenopausal breast cancer patients with estrogen-sensitive tumors may not increase survival odds, an international research team has found. But patients whose tumors were unresponsive to estrogen -- known as ER-negative tumors -- did benefit from chemotherapy. Those patients were much less likely to relapse and less likely to die five years after treatment than those who did not receive chemo. The trial involved 1,669 patients from many countries. All were postmenopausal and their cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes. About 23 percent had ER-negative tumors. The women were randomly assigned to receive either chemotherapy followed by tamoxifen, or tamoxifen alone for five years. Researchers found women with ER-negative tumors who received chemotherapy had an 84 percent disease-free survival rate at five years, compared to 69 percent for those not getting chemotherapy. Overall survival at five years was 89 percent in the chemotherapy group compared to 81 percent receiving tamoxifen alone. But among women with ER-positive tumors, who have a better prognosis to begin with because they can be successfully treated with tamoxifen, addition of chemo provided no survival benefit. Their five-year disease-free survival rate was 85 percent without chemotherapy and 84 percent with it and their overall survival rate at five years was 95 percent and 93 percent, respectively. Postmenopausal women with ER+ and ER- tumors make up nearly half of all U.S. women who have surgery for non-metastatic breast cancer. The findings question the value of the chemotherapy following breast surgery in postmenopausal women who have relatively early tumors that have not spread to their lymph nodes and are responsive to estrogen. The results, researchers said, indicate cancer treatments should be more finely "tailored" to the needs of patients and their tumors, in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort and expense.
MEDICAL TEXTS FAIL ON ALCOHOL WARNING
Most widely used medical textbooks fail to communicate unequivocally that pregnant women should not use alcohol, a new study reveals. In fact, many texts, including some published recently, even contradict public health guidelines, researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University report. Alcohol consumption by pregnant women is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Yet when the researchers reviewed 81 clinical obstetrics texts in current use, they found only 14 recommend pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Among the 29 texts published since 1991, only seven consistently recommend abstinence. More than half of the 81 texts even contain at least one statement condoning drinking. "Although tolerance toward drinking during pregnancy may be expected in older texts, such tolerance in recent texts was very disturbing," the researchers said, adding that mixed messages "are not appropriate because they leave the reader with the impression that abstinence is the official line but a foolish rule made to be broken."
CAFFEINE JOLT STRONGER FOR NON-USERS
In a small study, Canadian researchers have found the caffeine "jolt" people receive from coffee or other beverages seems to diminish with regular use -- meaning they need more of the substance over time to maintain the effect. Researchers studied 15 males and six females with a mean age of 32. All were physically active, 13 were regular caffeine users and eight were considered non-users. The subjects rode exercise bicycles until reaching exhaustion -- 80 percent of their maximum oxygen consumption -- after taking either 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of caffeine or a placebo. Exercise to exhaustion was completed once a week at one-, three- or six-hour intervals after taking caffeine or placebo. Although caffeine improved time to exhaustion for all the subjects -- sometimes by as much as 28 minutes, the subjects who did not use caffeine regularly showed the greatest improvement.
(Editors: For more information on TEEN SMOKING, contact Nancy Stringer at 619-543-6163. For CHEMOTHERAPY, Bill Schaller at 617-632-5357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For ALCOHOL WARNING, Joe Kuttenkuler at 804-828-6607 or email@example.com. For CAFFEINE, Donna Krupa at 703-527-7357 or firstname.lastname@example.org)