Friday, February 27, 2009

HRT 'could double the threat of skin cancer'

Epidemiological rubbish. Maybe the women on HRT were more active so got more sun exposure

Women who undergo hormone replacement therapy for the menopause could be dramatically increasing their risk of skin cancer. Those on HRT for more than six months at a time are twice as likely to develop a malignant melanoma, researchers discovered. They also found taking the Pill for more than six months makes it 28 per cent more likely that a cancerous mole will develop.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, compared nearly 800 Dutch women diagnosed with a melanoma between 1991 and 2004 with a group of 4,000 cancer-free women. It is thought the higher risk may be due to the way oestrogen in the HRT stimulates the growth of skin cells, called melanocytes. The study, by experts at Leiden University in the Netherlands, is the latest to highlight the health risks associated with taking HRT. It is already linked with breast cancer and an increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots.

Malignant melanomas kill around 1,700 people a year in the UK. Over-exposure to the sun's rays is the major cause and since the mid-1990s there has been a 24 per cent increase in cases. Dr Joanna Owens, from Cancer Research UK, said UV radiation was still the biggest danger. She said: 'Without knowing how much sun exposure these women had, this study tells us nothing new.'


Three daily cups of tea can reduce risk of stroke

As a regular tea drinker, I am much inclined to applaud this report but, as far as I can see, any beneficial effects are very small in absolute magnitude and benefits have been claimed for coffee too

The great British cuppa can protect against stroke, a study suggests. Drinking three cups of tea a day cuts the risk of brain clots by 21 per cent, say scientists from the American Heart Association who analysed 10 studies in China, Japan, Finland, Holland, Australia and the U.S. It is thought that tea may help by reducing blood pressure.

Other possibilities are that chemicals present in tea - catechins and theanins - contribute to improved blood vessel function. 'Tea drinking may be one of the most actionable lifestyle changes to significantly reduce the risk of stroke,' said the study.

Dr Catherine Hood of the Tea Advisory Panel said: 'These latest health findings are really exciting for all of us tea drinkers. 'Despite different countries studied and the different tea drinking customs represented across the studies, the meta-analysis showed that tea consumption was associated with reduced risk for stroke and reduced risk of death from stroke.' The study found that the risk of a fatal or non-fatal stroke in people drinking three or more cups a day was reduced by 21 per cent compared to those who did not drink tea.

Dr Hood said there were three key mechanisms in which tea could prevent stroke. 'Firstly, tea has been shown to reduce blood pressure in stroke-prone rats and blood pressure control is the key strategy to reduce risk of stroke in humans. 'Secondly, tea and the catechins it contains can improve blood vessel function. Thirdly, through the effects of theanin, tea has a positive effect on brain function and may reduce blood vessel damage in the brain. 'In the research, the beneficial effect was not specific to green or black tea. Black tea was as effective as green tea in reducing stroke.'

But the Stroke Association warned that 'excess caffeine intake is believed to contribute to high blood pressure'. 'Therefore we recommend moderate consumption of tea.'


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