New Method May Best

'Open' Aortic Repair

A less invasive way of repairing dangerously enlarged blood vessels in the belly is better than the traditional treatment, Dutch doctors said yesterday, but a U.S. doctor immediately called the finding premature and possibly wrong.

About 11,000 people in the United States die suddenly each year from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, where the aorta, the body's largest blood vessel, gradually swells until, like an overstretched balloon, it breaks. The stretching occurs gradually, without symptoms.

Traditionally, surgeons open the belly to repair the aorta, a procedure known as open repair. Doctors have been experimenting with a less invasive technique known as endovascular repair.

A study of 345 volunteers at 28 medical centers in the Netherlands and Belgium found that patients who received traditional surgery were twice as likely to die or have severe complications from the operation than people who got the endograft.

The study appears in today's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dinosaur Fossil Found

In Sleeping Position

Scientists have unearthed the remains of a 130 million-year-old new species of dinosaur that provide a look at how the prehistoric creatures slept.

The small, two-legged dinosaur was discovered in China, curled up with its head tucked under the forearm much the way modern birds sleep.

"This is the first report of sleeping behavior in dinosaurs," said Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Dubbed Mei long, which means "soundly sleeping dragon" in Chinese, the dinosaur was about 21 inches long, or about the size of a large bird. Several features indicate its avian origins.

The sleeping skeleton was found near Beipiao City in Liaoning Province.

How a Girl Grows May

Affect Cancer Risk

The way a girl grows during adolescence and even in the womb may play an important, if murky, role in her risk of breast cancer later, a study suggests.

The study of 117,000 women in Denmark found that those who were chubby at birth but tall and lean at 14 were more likely to develop the disease.

Mads Melbye, the lead researcher and a professor of epidemiology at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, said theories include differences in levels of hormones that influence growth and genetic variations.

Most studies have found that tall women have an increased risk of breast cancer, heavy ones have a higher risk of the disease after menopause, and that lean ones have a higher risk before menopause and a reduced risk after.

The study was reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

The taller a girl was at 14, about the end of puberty, the higher her chance of later developing breast cancer. For example, a girl 5 foot 6 inches tall at 14 had about a 50 percent higher risk of later developing breast cancer, compared with one who was shorter than 5 feet at 14.

Babies who weighed 8.8 pounds at birth had a 17 percent higher risk of later breast cancer than ones who weighed 51/2 pounds.

-- From News Services