Benign Breast Lumps

Often Not Cancer Omen

Most women with breast lumps or other abnormalities that turn out to be non-cancerous do not face a substantially greater risk of developing breast cancer later, especially if they have little family history of the disease, a study found.

However, certain "benign" growths are not so harmless and may be precursors to cancer, it also found.

Women with these may want to consider surgery or tamoxifen to lower their risk, doctors say.

The study was one of the largest to look at cancer risk according to the types of benign growths women had.

It involved 9,087 women who underwent biopsies from 1967 to 1991 at the Mayo Clinic, and the findings were reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 1 million American women each year receive diagnoses of benign breast abnormalities.

In the study, led by Lynn Hartmann, 707 out of 9,087 women with the conditions developed cancer, typically about a decade later. Their risk varied according to the type of condition, their age, family history and other factors.

Lipitor May Raise Risk

Of Stroke in Diabetics

The cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor does not help severely ill diabetics and may even raise their risk of a stroke, a study found.

Patients taking Lipitor, which is in the statin class of drugs, were twice as likely to die of a stroke in the study, the first major test of statins in diabetics who need dialysis.

The results are surprising because previous research showed Lipitor helped less severely ill diabetics.

The study was funded by Lipitor's maker, Pfizer Inc., and involved 1,255 Europeans with Type 2 diabetes, in which the body cannot properly use insulin. The findings were reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Robert Stanton, chief of kidney diseases at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, who was not involved in the study, said it may be too late to start diabetics on statins once their kidneys have failed.

Newfound Obesity Link

May Aid Diabetes Fight

Scientists have discovered a molecular link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It may be a potential target for new drugs.

The researchers found that a protein released by fat tissue in mice causes insulin resistance, a primary risk factor for diabetes. Elevated levels of the protein had previously been detected in patients with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by an inability to make enough insulin or properly use it.

The scientists found the protein, called retinol binding protein (RBP4), by studying mice that had been genetically engineered to over- or under-produce another protein linked to insulin resistance, they reported in the journal Nature. The team, led by Barbara Kahn of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, showed that raising levels of RBP4 increased insulin resistance.

Maker of Flu Vaccine

Won't Ship Outside U.S.

Troubled flu vaccine maker Chiron Corp. said yesterday that it will not be able to supply vaccine outside the United States next winter, days after reporting it would slash production because of potential contamination at a German plant.

Chiron said it will not be able to make the Begrivac flu vaccine, which is sold in non-U.S. markets, after saying last week that it would cut production by two-thirds.

Last year, Chiron was unable to supply flu vaccine in the United States after regulators found contamination at its plant in Liverpool, England.

-- From News Services