Reducing arsenic

Reducing arsenic in public water systems from 50 micrograms per litre to 10 resulted in fewer cancers, says a report published in Lancet Public Health. The Environmental Protection Agency revised this rule in 2006. Using data from a continuing nationwide health survey, researchers compared urinary arsenic levels in 2003 with those in 2014. They found a 17 per cent reduction in arsenic levels. The researchers estimate that the new rule resulted in 200 to 900 fewer lung and bladder cancers and 50 fewer skin cancers annually. The senior author, Dr Ana Navas-Acien, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said water treatment to eliminate arsenic was expensive and a challenge to smaller cities.

Cancer risk in antacid pills

People who carry the stomach bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, are at increased risk for ulcers and stomach cancer. But even when antibiotic treatment has eliminated the bacterium, stomach cancer may still arise. A new study published in the journal, Gut, suggests that one reason may be the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are acid-reducing medicines, sold under brand names such as Pan 40. "Even after the eradication of H. pylori, the risk of cancer persists with PPIs," says lead author Dr Wai Keung Leung, a professor of medicine at the University of Hong Kong. "But the absolute risk is not high, and I don't want to discourage people from taking these drugs when necessary."

No death risk from HRT

The largest and longest clinical trials of menopausal hormone therapy (HRT or hormone replacement therapy) have found that the drugs do not increase the risk of premature death. Researchers writing in the journal, JAMA, reported the results of two randomised trials - one involving 16,608 women and the other 10,739, who were given either hormones or a placebo. They were 50 to 79 years old. In an 18-year follow-up, it was found that 27.1 per cent of the hormone users and 27.6 per cent of those who took a placebo, died. Death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease were the same in each group.

No fracture saviour

Vitamin D and calcium supplements are widely used for the prevention of bone fractures in older adults, but a recent study confirms that they do not work. Chinese researchers pooled data from 33 randomised, placebo-controlled trials with more than 51,000 participants to look for an association between taking the supplements and a lowered risk of fracture. The analysis, published recently in the journal, JAMA, found none.


Back to top icon