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Living near highway bad for kids' lungs

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          HEALTH TIPS - Tuesday, January 30, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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          Living near highway bad for kids' lungs

LOS ANGELES, -- A California study concludes living near 
a busy highway causes lifelong damage to children's lungs.
The study, which followed thousands of California school 
children for 13 years, compared the lung function of 
children who lived within 500 yards of a highway to those 
who lived a mile or more from a highway, the Los Angeles 
Times reported. The lung damage done by living near a 
highway is comparable to living in an community with the 
highest air pollution levels, said the study published in 
the online version of the medical journal Lancet. "If you 
live in a high-pollution area and live near a busy road, 
you get a doubling" of the damage,  W. James Gauderman, 
an epidemiologist at the Keck School of Medicine of 
University of Southern California, told the Los Angeles 
Times. By the time they were 18, the children who lived 
within 500 yards of a highway had a 3 percent deficit in 
the amount of air they could exhale, compared to children 
who lived farther away from a highway.

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          Hormone replacement helps young women

CLEVELAND, -- The benefits of short-term hormone replace-
ment therapy likely outweigh the risks for younger women, 
the Ohio-based North American Menopause Society said. The 
society issued a new position statement on hormone therapy 
that will be published in its journal, Menopause. The 
society said the risks and benefits of hormone therapy 
change as a woman ages. In an example cited in Friday's 
Wall Street Journal, women 20 years past menopause and 
taking hormones had a 71 percent higher risk of a heart 
attack, while women closer to menopause had an 11 percent 
lower risk, the Wall Street Journal said. The newspaper 
said that hormones are still only recommended for short-
term treatment of menopausal symptoms. Nearly five years 
ago, the Women's Health Initiative study was stopped ear-
ly because older participants suffered a high rate of 
heart attacks. "I think these guidelines help to put the 
recent evidence and the new studies into perspective for 
women," Harvard researcher JoAnn Manson, who worked on 
both that study and the new guidelines, told the Wall 
Street Journal. "I think the statement is likely to be 
reassuring to them that with short-term use the benefits 
of hormones are likely to outweigh the risks."

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       Limiting cancer providers can save lives

HOUSTON, -- Limiting who can perform some cancer proce-
dures can save lives and money, a study out of Houston's 
Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University said 
Friday. Researchers looked at the outcome of the Whipple 
procedure, surgery performed on patients with pancreatic 
cancer. "Hospitals and surgeons that have performed more 
of these procedures will have a lower mortality rate," 
said Dr. Vivian Ho, associate professor of medicine at 
Baylor and the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in 
health economics at Rice. "We may be better off by not 
allowing low-volume hospitals to perform these proce-
dures. We should instead tell patients to go to high-
volume hospitals." Ho said the study's recommendations 
only apply to less common surgical procedures, not to 
more prevalent and potentially competitive procedures 
like open-heart surgery. The study's findings were 
reported in Friday's issue of the journal Health 
Economics, Policy and Law.

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