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Effect of poor social life on bone health

More than 53 million people in the United States have an increased risk of osteoporosis-related bone fracture, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Osteoporosis is most likely to affect older people, particularly women who have already been through menopause. Studies show that women are as much as four times more likely than men to experience bone loss. New research on a large cohort of women aged 50 and over has found a surprising link between poor quality social relationships and the presence of bone loss. This finding further emphasizes the importance of relationships — not just to mental and emotional well-being but also to physical health. In the current research, first author Shawna Follis and colleagues have analyzed the health and lifestyle data of 11,020 women aged 50–70 who had enrolled into the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The researchers followed the participants for 6 years and found that high levels of psychosocial stress had links with lower bone density. This association persisted even after the team adjusted for confounding factors, including age, education levels, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, and alcohol use, among others. Follis and colleagues caution that their findings are only observations, and the associations do not necessarily speak of a cause and effect relationship. Nevertheless, the study authors argue the importance of not ignoring the link between the quality of social relationships and the presence of bone loss. For this reason, they suggest that older women might benefit from having access to better social support networks: "The results support community-building social stress interventions in postmenopausal women to potentially limit bone loss." (Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Blood tests can help foresee relapses in breast cancer

New research looks at the body's antitumor inflammatory response to devise a blood test that may soon predict a person's chances of experiencing breast cancer recurrence. Using data from a person's immune response, researchers have devised a blood test that may accurately predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The balance between the immune system's pro- and anti-inflammatory signaling in response to cytokines can determine a person's antitumor immune reaction, explain Dr. Lee and colleagues in their paper. For the study, the researchers recruited 40 breast cancer survivors and clinically followed them for a median period of 4 years. The researchers also used an additional sample of 38 breast cancer survivors to attempt to replicate their findings from the previous group.

The goal is for physicians and breast cancer patients to know the risk of the disease recurring within the next 3–5 years. "Knowing the chance of cancer relapse will inform doctors how aggressive a particular patient's cancer treatment should be," Dr. Lee explains. "The [cytokine signaling index] is an overall reflection of a patient's immune system at diagnosis, which we now know is a major determinant of future relapse. This is the first success in linking a solid tumor with blood biomarkers — an indicator of whether a patient will remain in remission.", says Dr. Peter P. Lee.

(Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)