Eating Soy-Based Foods

Slows Osteoporosis

Eating soy-based foods lessens the progress of osteoporosis in women after menopause, when hormonal changes can rapidly thin bones and increase the risk of fractures, researchers said yesterday.

Bone loss is particularly quick in women during the five to seven years after menopause when a drop-off in estrogen levels may cause them to lose up to 5 percent of bone mass yearly, the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said.

Replacing estrogen through hormone replacement therapy has been found to carry health risks, including stroke, and soy protein has been viewed as a possible alternative.

Other ways for menopausal women to retard bone loss suggested by the Food and Drug Administration are to exercise and increase consumption of calcium and vitamin D.

In the study, a sampling of more than 24,000 women participating in the three-year Shanghai Women's Health Study found post-menopausal women who ate the most soy protein had a 37 percent lower risk of bone fracture compared with women who consumed the least soy. A total of 1,770 bone fractures were reported, said study author Xianglan Zhang of Vanderbilt University.

More Mothers Are

Choosing C-Sections

The rate of elective Caesarean section deliveries rose 37 percent in the United States from 2001 to 2003, according to a study by Health Grades Inc., a private company that rates health care services.

The study showed that elective C-section birth rates rose to 2.55 percent of all births in 2003 from 1.87 percent in 2001, the most significant increase to date.

The rates vary by state and hospital. Results showed that Nevada had the highest increase, with a 57 percent rise, while Arizona was lowest with 16 percent. The study included discharge data from 1,500 hospitals in the 17 states that release such data.

Many women make the decision, said Samantha Collier, lead author and vice president of medical affairs at Health Grades, because they want to avoid risks associated with vaginal deliveries, such as urinary incontinence. Others, she said, are looking for convenience and control of their schedules.

Some obstetricians say that women are not aware of the risks involved. For mothers, they include hemorrhaging, infections and future pregnancy problems. Babies are at risk for surgical cuts, asthma and breastfeeding difficulties, according to the Maternity Center Association, a group that publishes maternity-care information for women and doctors.

Ore. Volcanic Bulge

Draws Attention

A large, slow-growing volcanic bulge in Western Oregon is attracting the attention of seismologists, who say that the rising ground could be the beginnings of a volcano or simply magma shifting underground.

Scientists said that the 100-square-mile bulge, first discovered by satellite, poses no immediate threat to nearby residents. No one lives directly on it.

"It is perfectly safe for anyone over there," said Michael Lisowski, geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash.

The bulge is rising at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year, according to the USGS.

The bulge is located in a sparsely populated area three miles southwest of South Sister, a mountain 25 miles west of Bend, Ore.

Lisowski said the unnamed bulge was created because of a big cavity, estimated to be about 4.5 miles below the surface, that is filling with fluid -- likely magma, but possibly water. It was described in the report as a lake 1 mile across and 65 feet deep.

-- From News Services