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The following are a few news clips that can help you make better decisions about your health! 
Alcohol intake linked to modest increase in breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women

Singletary KW, Gapstur SM. Alcohol and breast cancer: review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence of potential mechanisms. JAMA 2001(Nov 7);286:2143-2151.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages has been consistently linked with an increased (although modest) risk of breast cancer in epidemiologic studies, according to this review. Investigators evaluated clinical trials published since 1977 that investigated the association of alcohol intake and breast cancer, with particular focus on epidemiologic data published since 1995. Searches were made for studies of human, animal, or cell cultures that examined the effect of alcohol (ethanol) or acetaldehyde on physiological process or possible risk factors associated with breast cancer. Taken together, the studies provided consistent evidence that the breast cancer risk is higher for women consuming moderate to high levels of alcohol (defined as three or more drinks per day) compared with nondrinkers. Also, a significant dose-response relationship beginning with intakes as low as one to two drinks per day was found. Alcohol intake was noted to be associated with increases in both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer. In postmenopausal women using estradiol, alcohol consumption substantially increased serum estradiol levels (up to a 3.3-fold increase in one study) compared with nondrinkers.

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HRT--Should Women Take It?
from www.altmedicine.com

Should you take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or not?  That is a major health question facing countless post-menopausal women. Most women take HRT to quell bothersome hot flashes and protect themselves from bone and heart diseases.  However, according to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, recent research casts a shadow on HRT's heart benefits. Along with a multitude of other potential risks and benefits, these new findings make it difficult to decide whether HRT is right for you.  Here's the latest information on this confusing topic from the Mayo Clinic:  HRT, particularly estrogen, has been proven to reduce hot flashes and sometimes decrease irritability and mood swings resulting from menopause. Estrogen also can relieve vaginal dryness and soreness.  Finally, HRT is the strategy of choice for preventing and treating osteoporosis.  It is thought that HRT may prevent heart disease in healthy women. However, women with known heart disease may not reap the same benefits.  Several studies have shown that women with heart disease who started HRT not only saw no improvement in their disease, but may, in fact, have had a higher risk of heart attacks and death in the first year after starting it.  Further research is needed to determine whether HRT truly prevents heart disease in healthy women.  Other possible benefits of HRT include improved memory, protection from colon cancer and reduced incidence of macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness late in life).  Risks of HRT include blood clots, gallstones and possible increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Determining whether you should use HRT is a complicated decision -- one that shouldn't be tackled without the help of your physician. Ongoing studies may provide clearer answers in the future.  In the meantime, your doctor can help you choose the strategy that's right for you. June 26, 2001

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Natural Progesterone Aids Women.
from www.altmedicine.com

A new type of natural progesterone improves the quality of life for post-menopausal women, according to a new Mayo Clinic study published in the May issue of the Journal of Women's Health.  The study reports that women who include naturally occurring progesterone in their hormone replacement therapy are more satisfied with their overall quality of life.  The natural hormone, called micronized progesterone, does not negate the positive effect of estrogen on cholesterol levels, like synthetic progesterone does.  Investigators interviewed 176 women whose prescribed hormone replacement therapy combined the natural progesterone with estrogens.  In the study, 80 percent of the participants reported increased satisfaction with the new, natural progesterone as compared to previous therapies that used synthetic progesterone. Subjects indicated a significant improvement in bleeding patterns and in control of symptoms when the micronized progesterone was compared with previous therapy.  "The results of our study indicate that natural progesterone may offer a wider range of benefits to women taking hormone replacement therapy," says Lorraine Fitzpatrick, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the lead investigator of the study.  "We already know that progesterone decreases some of the risks of estrogen replacement therapy such as increased risk of endometrial cancers. Now it seems that naturally occurring progesterone can reduce the occurrence of sleep disorders, hot flashes, anxiety and symptoms of depression," she adds.  Half of the study participants reported an improvement in vasomotor symptoms such as "hot flashes." Of the participants, 45 percent felt that psychological symptoms such as feelings of depression and anxiety improved, and 32 percent saw a decrease in sleep disorders.  Other areas of improvement included menstrual problems, cognitive difficulties and sexual functioning.  The natural hormone, micronized progesterone, is made from yams and is chemically identical to the naturally occurring progesterone found in the body. Micronized progesterone also is more finely ground for better absorption.  In a large study of menopausal women published in 1998, micronized progesterone also had the most favorable effect on LDL and HDL cholesterol levels associated with cardiovascular risk.  According to Dr. Fitzpatrick, Prometrium, a prescription medication, was used in the study. Women who used it on continuous basis took 100 mg. a day. Those who used it on a cyclical basis (12 days a month) used 200 mg. a day. May 10, 2000

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