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Wednesday, February 23, 2005; Page A10

Hormones and Incontinence

Hormone therapy, long used to treat urinary incontinence in menopausal women, may make the problem worse, according to a study being published today.

"We suspect that hormone therapy may actually damage the connective tissue around the urethra, causing women to be at increased risk for urinary incontinence," said Susan Hendrix, a physician at Wayne State University School of Medicine who led the research.

The findings came from the same long-range study of thousands of women that linked certain strengths of estrogen and progestin to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and some cancers.

The new report, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that menopausal hormone therapy increased the incidence of all types of urinary incontinence after a year among women who had no such problem when the study started. For those who did suffer incontinence when the study began, the therapy made the problem worse.

Anti-Smoking Ads' Success

A nationwide ad campaign funded largely by the tobacco industry has helped cut youth smoking rates, a study by a health journal estimates. But anti-smoking advocates say money for such campaigns is drying up.

The American Legacy Foundation's "Truth" campaign prevented about 300,000 youths from becoming smokers between 2000 and 2002, according to a study today in the March edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

But the foundation, which runs a nationwide campaign against youth smoking, is running low on money at the same time state legislatures cut the amount they spend on anti-smoking campaigns.

The public health journal's study looked at surveys of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders conducted annually from 1997 to 2002.

The surveys showed that 28 percent of teenagers smoked in 1997 and just 18 percent did in 2002, and the study credits the campaign with 22 percent of that drop.

Genetics of Breast Cancer

A new study of the genetics of breast cancer may help doctors decide how aggressively to treat a perplexing form of the disease that often never spreads beyond the milk ducts.

At issue is ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, which sometimes can spread and turn deadly but often can remain in place harmlessly for many years.

For more than a decade, doctors have known that mutations of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a role in more invasive types of breast cancer. Today, in a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers have for the first time linked those two mutations to DCIS, too.

The researchers said having these two mutations appears to increase the risk of invasive breast cancer -- and ovarian cancer -- in women with DCIS.

The study's author, Elizabeth Claus of the Yale University School of Medicine, said women with DCIS, if they have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, could be offered genetic screening to see whether they carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

-- From News Services

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