Health briefs: Regular use of aspirin may cut risk of pancreatic cancer

  • Updated: July 4, 2014 - 7:14 PM

Regular aspirin use cut the risk of pancreatic cancer by half, according to a finding that adds one of the most lethal malignancies to the list of diseases the inexpensive pill may help fight.

Adults who took a low dose , about 75 to 325 milligrams, of aspirin daily — usually to prevent heart disease — had a 48 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer, said research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Taking aspirin regularly for a decade cut the risk by 60 percent.

Why aspirin would do this is unclear. And people should not start taking aspirin to prevent pancreatic cancer as the medicine has side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding. “Pancreatic cancer takes 10 to 15 years to develop,” said the senior author, Dr. Harvey A. Risch, of the Yale School of Public Health. “We don’t know if the aspirin is preventing the formation of new tumors or helping the immune system to control them later on.”

Pancreatic cancer has a 93 percent fatality rate. The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 40,000 U.S. deaths from the disease this year.

Supplements may help with diabetes during pregnancy

Calcium and vitamin D supplementation can reduce blood sugar levels in women with gestational diabetes and improve other measures of metabolic health, a small randomized trial found.

Gestational diabetes, or the development of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy in women, affects about 7 percent of women in the United States. It can lead to birth complications and may increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Iranian researchers randomly assigned 56 women with gestational diabetes to receive 1,000 mg of calcium a day along with 50,000 units of vitamin D twice during the six-week study, or to get placebo pills. The analysis was published in Diabetologia.

In the supplement group, blood glucose and cholesterol levels improved, measures that deteriorated in the placebo group. Dr. Ahmad Esmaillzadeh, an associate professor at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, said these supplements were not suitable for all women. “Vitamin D has some toxic effects on women and their babies,” he said. “But we can recommend it for people with gestational diabetes who are vitamin D deficient.”

Oh, those long (sleepless, stressful) days of summer

Summer is supposed to be a carefree time of year, with long, sunny days and breezy, sit-on-the-front-porch evenings. Maybe not. In an online article in Prevention magazine, Shannon Rosenberg reports on a survey in which one-third of Americans described themselves as under more stress during summer than at any other time of year. Apparently, trying to have too much fun kept them up at night.

The online SleepRate survey found that nearly half of the respondents said summer social events kept them so busy that they lost sleep time. Many — 69 percent — said they often scheduled three social occasions a week in the summer.

And of course parents have added burdens, with summer interrupting school and day-care schedules, requiring ever more inventive planning. Hot weather can also affect sleep, with 80 percent saying they sleep better in cool weather. And don’t get us started on vacations that bring on jet lag.

Prevention magazine passes on this advice: Settle on a regular wake-up time, seven days a week year-round, giving your body some consistency.

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