Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stress really CAN cause heart attacks, say researchers

The journal article "Salivary cortisol responses to mental stress are associated with coronary artery calcification in healthy men and women" is here. It showed that people who got anxious (as measured by cortisol secretion) about doing a silly task had more signs of coronary artery problems -- but that anxiety in general (as measured by cortisol secretion) was not related to coronary artery problems. Figure that one out! I think that "more research is needed" is all that we can politely say

Getting stressed really is bad for your heart, according to new research. For years, stress has been linked to heart attacks and other heart complaints but with very little medical evidence to back it up. Now a major trial by doctors at University College London has proved for the first time that people who get stressed are also likely to have heart disease.

The study involved 514 men and women, with an average age of 62. None had signs of heart disease. Each underwent stress tests and then levels of cortisol - a chemical produced by the body at times of stress and which causes arteries to narrow - were measured. Their arteries were also scanned for any signs of furring and narrowing. Those people who were stressed by the tests were twice as likely to have furred arteries as those who remained calm, the study in the European Heart Journal found.

Cardiologist Professor Avijit Lahiri said: 'This study shows a clear-cut relationship between stress and silent coronary artery disease. This is the first clear proof.'


Benefits of breast screening 'are a myth'

Once again, medical "wisdom" is revealed as folly when properly tested

Thousands of women who attend routine breast screening checks are wrongly told that they have life-threatening cancer and undergo unnecessary treatment each year, researchers claim today.

An independent scientific review of the NHS breast screening programme accuses the Government of providing misleading propaganda to persuade women of the benefits of screening, without mentioning the drawbacks. Ministers, health charities and the majority of doctors encourage women to have regular mammograms in middle age on the basis of estimates that the checks save 1,400 lives each year.

However, the review by the Nordic Cochrane Centre, in Copenhagen, disputes the value of the checks, saying that there is “no convincing evidence” that screening has saved so many lives. Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers say that improvements in breast cancer survival are more to do with improvements in treatment, rather than detection through screening. They add that many healthy women who attend screenings may have had benign conditions “overdiagnosed” by doctors and endured gruelling surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, doctors warned that continuing disputes over the value of breast screening could cause confusion among women and could lead to dangerous diseases being missed. All women aged 50 to 70 are offered breast cancer screening in Britain. More than 1.7 million women take up the invitation every year. As well as detecting tumours developing in the breast, mammography also identifies women who have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) — precancerous lesions contained in the milk ducts, which may develop into cancer. Up to half of women who receive a diagnosis of DCIS never go on to develop breast cancer but, as it is not possible to predict who will, all women with abnormalities are treated with surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Professor Peter G√łtzsche, the lead author of the Cochrane review, said that more than 21,000 women aged 50 to 69 had breast cancer diagnosed in Britain in 2007. He added that one in three of the cancers diagnosed among the screened age group could be “unnecessary” diagnoses of benign DCIS. “Each year 7,000 women in the UK receive an unnecessary breast cancer diagnosis and unnecessary breast cancer treatment because of overdiagnosis in the NHS breast screening programme,” he said.

The Department of Health agreed to review the information leaflets that it publishes on breast screening after a previous study from the Cochrane researchers and a letter from 23 health professionals to The Times criticised their biased nature. The latest review directly criticises the official annual review of the breast screening programme, published by the Department of Health in 2008. “The review exaggerates the benefit, omits the harms, and looks like propaganda aimed at persuasion,” it says. “We arrive at a different conclusion than those who wrote the annual review. There is no convincing evidence that [screening] has saved lives.”

Julietta Patnick, the director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, rejected Professor G√łtzsche’s conclusions. “Numerous independent studies have shown breast cancer screening reduces mortality,” she said. “A report from the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that there is a 35 per cent reduction in mortality from breast cancer among regularly screened women aged 50 to 69 years.” [I'll trust a Cochrane review over the corrupt WHO any time]


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Improvements in breast cancer survival are a result of more effective treatments. Diagnosis has also improved, but not as a result of screening. It has improved due to a greater awarness of the disease on the part of both the public and the medical profession. The differences in survival cited for treatment of symptomatic and asymptomatic breast cancer are all based on the assumption that asymptomatic cancer is a) always correctly diagnosed and b)has a predictable outcome. Both assumptions are wrong.