A(NOTHER) RACIAL DISPARITY It may be even more important for African Americans to quit smoking. The reason? Family history. Detroit researchers report that having a parent, grandparent or sibling who developed lung cancer before age 50 poses more of a risk for blacks than for whites. Wayne State University researchers tracked more than 7,500 first-degree relatives of 692 people who developed lung cancer at an early age, and compared them with a control group that was cancer-free. By age 70, 25 percent of blacks who were smokers and had a close relative with early onset lung cancer developed the malignancy, compared with 17 percent of whites. After factoring in age, sex and smoking history, researchers found that blacks with a family history were twice as likely as whites to develop lung cancer themselves. This finding may reflect a "higher degree of underlying susceptibility . . . in black families," said lead author Michele L. Cote.

LOSING IT Chubby middle-aged people who lose as little as four pounds and keep it off can reduce their risk of developing high blood pressure, according to new data from the landmark Framingham Heart Study published earlier this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers, who have regularly assessed the health of participants since 1948, measured the weight and blood pressure of more than 1,200 adults. Eight years after their first assessment, middle-aged adults who lost 15 pounds cut their long-term risk of developing hypertension by 21 percent, even if they regained the weight. Those who lost four pounds and kept it off reduced their risk by roughly the same amount.

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