Roundup: CDC Finds ‘Health-Related Social Needs’ are Preventing Many Women from Getting Vital Mammograms; and More News

Social Barriers are Keeping Many Women from Getting Lifesaving Mammograms, CDC Finds in New Study

“Health-related social needs” are keeping many women from getting vital screening mammograms, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 3 in 10 women ages 50 to 74 years, with three or more health-related social needs, had not received a mammogram as of 2022, based on the most recent data studied by the CDC.

Health-related social needs, or HRSNs, are barriers that affect a person's health or access to healthcare. Examples include social isolation, job loss, lack of reliable transportation, insecurity around food or housing, and the cost of accessing healthcare, the CDC states. These are sometimes referred to as social determinants of health (SDOHs).

In a new report, the CDC found that the use of mammography ranged from 64 percent to 85.5 percent among women, ages 50 to 74 years. Having health insurance and a personal healthcare provider were most associated with having had a mammogram within the previous two years, the CDC found.

“Among women aged 50–74 years, mammography prevalence was 83.2 percent for those with no adverse SDOH and HRSNs, and 65.7 percent for those with three or more adverse SDOH and HRSNs,” the CDC concluded.

The CDC examined data from the 2022 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the prevalence of mammography use within the previous two years by jurisdiction, age group, and sociodemographic factors.

Getting screening mammograms regularly can help find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat. Women ages 50 to 74 years should get a screening mammogram every two years, according to current guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The CDC concluded that the way to increase the use of mammograms and “ultimately decrease breast cancer deaths” is by “identifying specific adverse SDOH and HRSNs that women experience and coordinating activities among health care providers, social services, community organizations, and public health programs.”

Exercise Provides Even More Benefits for Those With Stress-Related Conditions Such as Depression

Individuals with stress-related conditions such as depression saw the most cardiovascular benefits from physical activity, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The many health benefits of regular exercise are well established. The new study found that physical activity “lowers cardiovascular disease risk in part by reducing stress-related signaling in the brain,” states a news release by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, who led the study.

They analyzed medical records and other data on 50,359 participants from the Mass General Brigham Biobank who completed a physical activity survey. A subset of 774 participants also underwent brain imaging tests and measurements of stress-related brain activity.

Over a median follow-up period of 10 years, 13 percent of participants developed cardiovascular disease. Participants who met physical activity recommendations had a 23 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not meet the recommendations.

“Individuals with higher levels of physical activity also tended to have lower stress-related brain activity,” the researchers stated. Those stress-related reductions were “driven by gains in function in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in executive function (i.e., decision making, impulse control) and is known to restrain stress centers of the brain,” the study’s authors said.

“Physical activity was roughly twice as effective in lowering cardiovascular disease risk among those with depression. Effects on the brain’s stress-related activity may explain this novel observation,” said senior study author Ahmed Tawakol, M.D., an investigator and cardiologist in the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, in a statement.

Exercising in the Evening May Provide More Health Benefits for Those With Obesity, Researchers Say

Many clinical studies have focused on determining the best time of day to exercise, although all come a vital conclusion: Consistent exercise — at any time of day — is linked to many health benefits.

A new study indicates that daily physical activity undertaken in the evening is associated with “the greatest health benefits for people living with obesity,” states a news release from researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia who reviewed the health-related outcomes of 30,000 people over nearly eight years.

The exercise time-frames studied were: Morning (6 a.m.-noon); Afternoon (noon-6 p.m.); and Evening (6 p.m.-midnight). The study was published in Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association.

The researchers used data from UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource. They focused on 29,836 adults over 40 years of age living with obesity -- of whom 2,995 participants were also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Participants were placed into three categories -- morning, afternoon or evening -- based on when they undertook the majority of their aerobic moderate-to-vigorous physical activity as measured by a wrist accelerometer worn continuously for 24 hours a day over seven days at the study’s onset. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise included brisk walking, cycling, gardening, and sports activities.

Over the eight-year follow-up period, the researchers monitored deaths from any cause and new diagnoses of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke) and microvascular disease (conditions such as kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems that are common in people with diabetes).

“The results showed a clear pattern – those who devoted time to evening exercise seemed to fare the best,” the news release states. Compared to the sedentary group, those who exercised in the evening had a: 61 percent lower risk of death from any cause; 36 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 24 percent lower risk of microvascular disease

Said Dr. Angelo Sabag, lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney, in a statement: “Exercise is by no means the only solution to the obesity crisis, but this research does suggest that people who can plan their activity into certain times of the day may best offset some of these health risks.”

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