The Checkup: Health in the News and in Your Life

By Adapted from
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cancer: Here Today . . .

Can breast cancer just disappear on its own? Per-Henrik Zahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo and colleagues compared breast cancer rates in two groups of more than 100,000 women ages 50 to 64. One group got mammograms every two years, while the second got just one after six years. Surprisingly, the researchers found that the women who got more frequent mammograms had about 22 percent more cases of breast cancer.

That finding, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, raises the possibility that mammograms detect cancers that never cause any problems and just go away. If that proves to be true, the researchers say, the finding would raise new questions about routine mammography, which has long been controversial, and whether women who find out from an exam that they have breast cancer necessarily have to do anything about it.

-- Rob Stein

Happy Days

A widely reported study recently showed that happy people watch less TV than those who say they're not happy.

The study, headed by John P. Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and published in the December issue of the journal Social Indicators Research, set out to discover how happy people spend their time.

Reviewing data collected over 34 years from nearly 40,000 people ages 18 to 64, the researchers pinpointed a handful of activities -- such as socializing with relatives, neighbors or friends, using the Internet and going to bars -- and looked at how often people who rated themselves very happy, somewhat happy or not happy said they took part in those activities.

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