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Genetic Testing for Cancer Lacking for Women on Medicare: Study Testing for gene mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancer is rare among some Medicare patients who have the cancers and qualify for such tests, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed data from 12 southeastern states between 2000 and 2014. Only 8 percent of 92 women who met Medicare criteria for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene testing received it within five years of their cancer diagnosis, the study found. No patients in Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia got the tests, according to the study published Aug. 14 in the Journal of the

American Medical Association. Breast cancer patients with BRCA mutations are more likely to develop cancer in a second breast and are also at increased risk for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer patients with the gene changes are more likely to get breast cancer. Relatives who also have the mutations also face a higher cancer risk, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers said. "Women who carry one of these mutations but don't know their mutation status are not able

to take advantage of preventive or early detection interventions that we have available, so they miss out on the opportunity to reduce their risk for these cancers and potentially reduce their overall mortality," study author Amy Gross said in a university news release. "They are also not able to inform family members who might be affected," Gross added. She is an epidemiologist at the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research in Nashville. The study covered a broad age range: More than half of the

women were under age 65 and qualified for Medicare due to disabilities. The researchers said lack of patient interest and physician recommendations might explain the low genetic testing rate. None of the patients had received a doctor referral for genetic counseling, they added. More information The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on BRCA gene mutations. SOURCE: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, news release, Aug. 14, 2018

Here's a Part of Aging That Really Stinks Unpleasant phantom odors haunt many older Americans, a new study finds. Of more than 7,400 people over age 40 who took part in a federal health survey, 6.5 percent said they experience nasty odors -- such as burning hair or the reek of an ashtray -from nowhere. That's 1 in 15 people. As folks age, their ability to identify odors tends to decrease, but their detection of phantom odors increases. Why this happens is a mystery, but smelling something that isn't really there can be life-changing, the researchers said. "Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences, and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks

and spoiled food," said Judith Cooper. She's acting director of the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). It led the study. Lead researcher Kathleen Bainbridge said overactive odorsensing cells in the nasal cavity or a malfunction in the brain area that understands odor signals may be involved. The new study lays the groundwork for further research. "A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon. From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition," Bainbridge said in an institute news release.

She is an NIDCD epidemiologist. Study co-author Dr. Donald Leopold is a clinical professor of surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. He said many people who experience strong phantom odors have a poor quality of life. They may also have trouble maintaining a healthy weight. The new research follows a Swedish study that reported 4.9 percent of people older than 60 experienced phantom odors. It said the rate was higher among women than men. This new study found a similar rate among Americans over 60, but an even higher rate among those between 40 and 60. Roughly twice as many women as men reported experiencing phantom odors, and the gender

gap was greatest in the younger group, the NIDCD study found. Besides gender, other risk factors for experiencing phantom odors include head injury, dry mouth, poor overall health, and being poor, the researchers said. They said poor people may have greater exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins, or have health conditions that contribute to the problem, either directly or because of medications they take. The study was published Aug. 16 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. More information The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more on smell disorders.

Don't sleep in your contact lenses. Here's why. One man wore his contact lenses overnight while hunting. He ended up needing a corneal transplant to save his eye. Ditto for another man who did not bother to take his lenses out for two weeks.

Two teenagers who remind people not to slept in their lenses — sleep in their contact bought without lenses, and they put prescriptions — ended together six grisly stories up with permanent scarring. to demonstrate why. The Centers for Disease "Sleeping in contact lenses is Control and Prevention wants to one of the most frequently

reported contact lens risk behaviors and one with a high relative risk for corneal infection," the team wrote in CDC's weekly report...Read More

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