September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and with it a spate of news media attention to the disease that sees 20,000 new diagnoses per year, 62 percent of them in women over 45. As advocates prepare a September 5 march in Colorado and elsewhere to raise awareness, many are also mulling over whether a new, just-launched testing device is really going to serve women most at risk.

On the march: The March is part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month’s “National Teal
Day.” The message of the day: Know the risks and symptoms. Advocate for
yourself and your loved ones. Insist on appropriate testing. And help
secure research funding for this deadly cancer.

For years Nancy Zurbuch swallowed antacids to ease her bloating/eating
difficulties and attributed her urge to urinate frequently to bladder
infections before becoming concerned about “mild discomfort in my
abdomen, poorly defined, but it was especially noticeable during my gym
workouts.” By the time she was diagnosed, she had late stage III-C
ovarian cancer.

Diagnosed with late stage, metastasized ovarian cancer, Mary Phillips
explains, “If I had known the symptoms of ovarian cancer, I might have
checked with my doctor months before and insisted on a transvaginal
ultrasound and a CA125 blood test. If I had been diagnosed at Stage I
or II, I would have had a prognosis of an 80 to 90% chance of being
alive in five years instead of the 30% chance I have now.”

“Survival depends on being your own best advocate,” warns the Ovarian Cancer Alliance on their Web site, advising us to learn the symptoms and not be afraid to ask their gynecologist for more tests.

Nice and shiny, but does it help? However,
scientists at OCA’s conference last month warned against putting your
hopes in a new screening test approved by the FDA, saying that “there is still no evidence-based test for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer.”

The
need for such a test is immense. When ovarian cancer is detected at its
earliest stage, when it is still confined to the ovaries, more than 90
percent of women will live at least five years, according to the
American Cancer Society. But only about 20 percent of cases are
detected that early. If the cancer is detected in its latest stages,
after it has spread, only about 30 percent of women survive five years.

But far from greeting the new test with elation, many experts are
saying it might do more harm than good, leading women to unnecessary
surgeries. The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists almost immediately
issued a statement saying it did not believe the test had been
validated enough for routine use.

“You’ve got industry trying to capitalize on fear,” said Dr. Andrew
Berchuck, director of gynecologic oncology at Duke University and the
immediate past president of the society. “We’d all love to see a
screening test for ovarian cancer,” he added, “but OvaSure is very
premature.”

We knew about olive oil. But olive leaf? Rather than rely on studies showing an overall benefit of the “Mediterranean diet,”  European researchers got to work. They found that extract of olive leaf alone can help with both cholesterol and high blood pressure:

Experiments
in rats had previously indicated that olive leaf extract could be one
way of achieving this goal. To test this in humans, researchers from
Switzerland and Germany conducted a pilot trial with 20 identical
(monozygotic) twin pairs who had an increased blood pressure.
Individuals were either given placebo capsules or capsules containing
doses of 500mg or 1000mg of olive leaf extract EFLA®943. Pairs of twins
were assigned to different treatments. After the subjects had taken the
extract for eight weeks researchers measured blood pressures as well as
collecting data about aspects of life-style.

Getting those hours back? On many a sleepless night, we’ve wished that 1-2 hour “interregnum” could be put to good use. We may just have to wait a few years. OK, probably more than a few; still, it’s good to know there’s more than one upside to being 80:

Men and women in their 80s and 90s sleep less and have poorer
quality sleep than young individuals, but they are also less likely to
report feeling unrested or overly sleepy the next day, investigators
report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“This study is novel in part due to the sheer size and scope of the
study compared to earlier works,” first author Dr. Mark L. Unruh noted
in correspondence with Reuters Health. By studying older individuals
still living in the community, the results may be generalized to the
majority of older adults.

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