Thursday, December 24, 2009

Having sex at an early age can double risk of cervical cancer (?)

Or is it that the type of people who have sex at an earlier age are more likely to get cancer anyhow? Who knows? The study authors admit that it is poverty-related and poverty is health-related

Women having sex at an early age can double the risk of developing cervical cancer, according to researchers. A study shows women are at greater risk from the disease by becoming sexually active at a young age, prompting campaigners to call for the screening age limit to be lowered. The study published in the British Journal of Cancer into why poorer women have a higher risk of the disease found they tended to have sex four years earlier than more affluent women.

In England, women do not qualify for NHS screening until they reach 25, perhaps ten years after they may have contracted HPV, the sexually transmitted virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer.

The age at which a woman had her first baby was also an important factor, according to the study of 20,000 women by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But smoking and the number of sexual partners did not account for any of the difference.

Dr Silvia Francheschi, who led the study, said the risk of cervical cancer was higher in women who had their first intercourse aged 20, compared with 25. She said: “In our study, poorer women become sexually active on average four years earlier. So they may also have been infected with HPV earlier, giving the virus more time to produce the long sequence of events that are needed for cancer development.”

Women aged between 25 and 49 are offered checks every three years in England, while women aged 50 to 64 get five yearly checks for pre cancerous changes that could develop into cancer without treatment.

Dr Lesley Walker, of Cancer Research UK, said: “These results back up the need for the HPV vaccination to be given in schools at an age before they start having sex, especially among girls in deprived areas.”


Bourbon gives you worse hangovers

Wine, whisky and beer cause more problems for drinkers the next day than beverages like vodka, a new study suggests. Researchers say that the problem lies in organic byproducts created by the fermenting process. Drinks which contain more of these compounds appear to produce worse hangovers, scientists found.

They tested the theory by comparing the hangovers of a group of almost 100 people who had drank either vodka, bourbon, an American whisky made mainly from corn, or a placebo.

Although there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that some drinks trigger worse hangovers, the researchers said there had been little scientific study into the area. Much that had been done had failed to exclude the effects of the alcohol itself, they added.

For their research the team took blood tests from volunteers to ensure that all alcohol had left their body before interviewing them about how they were feeling. Damaris J. Rohsenow, from Brown University, in Rhode Island, who led the study, said: "While alcohol in the beverage did increase how hungover people reported feeling the next morning compared to drinking a placebo, bourbon made people feel even worse than vodka did." Typical symptoms included a headache, nausea, thirst, tiredness and generally feeling unwell.

Despite having less of a hangover, those who had drunk vodka performed no better on tests requiring them to concentrate than the bourbon drinkers, researchers also found.

Previous studies have shown that these byproducts in alcohol, called "congeners," can have slight toxic effects. They are more plentiful in darker coloured drinks, including whisky and red wine. Bourbon is thought to contain around 37 times more congeners than vodka. “While the alcohol alone is enough to make many people feel sick the next day, these toxic natural substances can add to the ill effects as our body reacts to them," Mr Rohsenow said.

The findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.


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