Health capsules

Detecting lumps doesn’t work

Study finds that breast self-examination does not reduce risk of death from breast cancer. A major effort to teach self-examination, so that women could detect early, small lumps of a developing breast cancer did not the reduce the rate of breast cancer deaths. The technique is a waste of time for doctors and patients, according to a study of more than 2,60,000 women in China. It does not mean that women should stop breast self-examination but that they should not have unrealistic expectations about its value. — AP

Super Asprin

A new analysis suggests that contrary to previous research, women heart patients fare about as well as men do from early, aggressive treatments such as angioplasty and bypass surgery. Researchers said new treatments could even out those differences. The new treatments include a type of intravenous drug known as “super aspirin” to prevent clots, and stents, or wire mesh tubes, to keep arteries unclogged. — AP

Inflammed hearts

If inflammation triggers heart attacks, does lowering it save lives? New evidence, including a major study published recently suggests that painless inflammation in the bloodstream is an even more potent cause of heart attacks than cholesterol.

However, some doctors are reluctant to test for inflammation because there is no clear evidence that lowering it improves health. A major study intended to settle the question will soon begin. About 15,000 people will be enrolled in an experiment to see if a statin drug can prevent heart attacks and strokes — AP

Magic diets

Low-carbohydrate diets may actually take off more weight than low-fat diets and may be surprisingly better for cholesterol, too. For years, the Atkins formula of sparing carbohydrates and loading up on taboo fatty foods has been blasphemy to many in the health establishment.

But now, some of the same researchers who long scoffed at the diet are putting it to the test, and they say the results astonish them. Rather than making cholesterol soar, as they feared, the diet actually appears to improve it, and volunteers take off more weight. — AP