Feb 16, 2009 | 3
What does skin cancer have to do with Parkinson's disease, the degenerative brain condition that causes tremors, slowed gait and problems with balance and coordination? According to a new study, more than you might think.
People with a family history of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have twice the risk of developing Parkinson's disease as people who didn’t have a parent or sibling with the cancer, according to research released today ahead of April's annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Seattle. The study followed nearly 132,000 men and women for 14 to 20 years; at the end of that period, 543 people had developed Parkinson's. The likelihood of getting Parkinson's was almost double — 90 percent greater, to be exact — in those with a close relative who had received a melanoma diagnosis than among those without that family history. (For comparison, the baseline risk of Parkinson’s is about 1 percent for those over 60, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.)
Feb 16, 2009 | 21
Vitamin D is the vitamin du jour these days, with many doctors urging more sun exposure following years of campaigns advising us to cover up and use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Many of us, especially in cloudier areas, don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin. The elderly and post-menopausal women are more at risk for deficiency, as are those who live in northern climes.
But today comes news that one group seems to be at particular risk, doctors report in the journal Endocrine Practice. Arab-American women who wore the hijab (a Koran-derived dress code that includes a scarf or veil over their hair and modest dress) and didn’t get enough vitamin D through their diet had half the levels of the vitamin of those who didn’t adhere as closely to the dress code. There was no difference in rates of health problems linked to vitamin D deficiency, such as bone or joint pain or breaks, or muscle weakness. The study involved 87 women in Dearborn, Mich., which has a large Arab population.
Feb 2, 2009 | 4
Do you obsessively scrutinize your skin for unusual blemishes and visit your doc for an annual whole-body check for cancer? It may not do you any good, a panel of government experts says.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says there isn’t enough evidence for or against the checks, during which you or your doctor looks for changes in the color, size and texture of skin growths. The panel's position—which reinforces guidelines it published in 2001—appears tomorrow in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The guidelines apply to people without noticeable changes in the symmetry, border, color or diameter of their moles—not to people with those symptoms or with a cancer history, says Tracy Wolff, a medical officer with the USPSTF who co-authored the paper.
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