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Roundup: Breast Cancer Risk and Childbirth; Needless Glucose Testing; and Raw Cookie Dough Alert

Breast Cancer Risk May Increase for Some Years After Childbirth, Study Finds

A new study by researchers from the University of North Carolina and the Institute of Cancer Research in London finds that women who have given birth may have a greater risk for breast cancer, compared to women without children.

The findings seem to contradict previous research suggesting women who have children tend to have a lower breast cancer risk than those who haven’t given birth.

The new study, however, focuses on the amount of time that has elapsed since a woman has given birth — along with the risk for breast cancer over that period of time. The risk for breast cancer increases for 24 years after a woman’s last child, peaking at about five years after childbirth, the study found. The risk for breast cancer starts to diminish after 24 years and reaches its lowest point at 35 years after giving birth, according to the research.

Researchers examined data from nearly 890,000 women of different ages and found the risk continues for more than two decades after childbirth. David Agus, M.D., the director of USC Norris Westside Cancer Center, told “CBS This Morning” that the findings should be considered by doctors who screen for breast cancer.

The report published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine [1].

“Increases in breast cancer risk after childbirth were pronounced when combined with a family history of breast cancer and were greater for women who were older at first birth or who had more births,” the study concluded. Breastfeeding did not modify overall risk for breast cancer, the researchers said.

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CDC Alert: Raw Cookie Dough Can Make You Sick

It’s the holiday season, and public health officials are again reminding everyone to avoid eating or tasting raw cookie dough — as tempting as it may seem.

“Steer clear of this temptation — eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick,” states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [5] (CDC).

Raw eggs, which are found in many cookie recipes, can carry salmonella, the bacteria that can cause severe stomach issues, the CDC says. Even egg-free dough can contain raw flour, which can carry disease-causing germs such as E. coli., the CDC notes. Products made with cookie dough, such as ice cream, have had the dough heated sufficiently to kill any potential germs.

“Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments,” the CDC states. Moreover, children should not play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.

In 2016, a large outbreak of E. coli infections made people sick in 24 states, the CDC says. Investigators linked the illnesses to flour sold under several brand names.

Food poisoning symptoms may range from mild to severe, and differ depending on the germ a person may have swallowed. The symptoms of E. coli infections vary but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. The symptoms of salmonella infections typically appear 6 to 48 hours after eating a contaminated food. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In most cases, the salmonella-related illness lasts 4 to 7 days, and people recover without antibiotics.

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Many Low-Risk Diabetics are Over-Testing Blood Sugar Levels, Study Says

Many patients with type 2 diabetes are over-monitoring their blood glucose levels at home, sometimes several times a day, new research indicates.

The findings, based on an analysis of insurance claims data, were published online December 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine [8] by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The American Academy of Family Physicians and Society of General Internal Medicine have issued guidance for physicians that low-risk patients don’t need to regularly test their glucose (blood sugar) levels. Consult with your physician about the need to check your blood sugar levels at home.

Those at low-risk are primary adults with stable type 2 diabetes on medications that don’t cause hypoglycemia, or a very low level of blood sugar, the body’s main energy source. For these patients, studies have concluded that home glucose monitoring does not make a difference in blood sugar levels. But still, many of them are pricking their fingers unnecessarily, researchers found.

The researchers looked at data on more than 370,000 patients with type 2 diabetes. Overall, almost 88,000, or about 23 percent, had at least three insurance claims for test strips that are commonly used to check blood sugar at home. More than half of those testing their blood sugar at home didn’t need to do so, representing about 14 percent of the total participants studied, researchers said.

The daily taking of blood samples from painful poking can cause unnecessary worry and costs, researchers said.

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