Frontline: Early Cancer Detection; Menopause; Sleep’s Effect on Positivity

DNA in Blood May Help With Early Cancer Detection

Researchers have discovered that DNA from cancerous tumors can be detected in the blood, which may help make it possible to detect and treat cancers earlier. The researchers analyzed blood samples taken from 44 healthy people and 200 patients with different stages and types of cancer (colorectal, breast, lung, or ovarian cancer). They detected no cancer-related DNA mutations in the samples from the healthy participants. However, among the participants who had cancer, the researchers identified cancer-related DNA mutations in 77 percent of patients with advanced cancer (stages III and IV) and in 62 percent of patients with stage I or stage II cancer. The team also found that higher levels of tumor DNA in the blood before colorectal cancer surgery correlated with a higher chance of cancer recurrence. These findings suggest that testing for tumor DNA in the blood might help detect more cancers in the early stages. The study appeared in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Uptick in Chronic Pain, Opioid Use Tied to Menopause

A study of more than 400,000 female veterans has revealed an increase in the incidence of chronic pain and the long-term use of opioid drugs during menopause. Long-term opioid use was defined as a prescription for an oral opioid medication for a minimum of 90 days. Forty percent of the women reported long-term opioid use, and 24 percent of the women reported using both opioids and sedative drugs at the same time. The researchers acknowledged that these results cannot be generalized to women who are not veterans, but their findings suggest that experiencing chronic pain and engaging in high-risk opioid use may be associated with the menopausal period for reasons that are not currently understood. The research was presented at the North American Menopause Society meeting in October 2017.

Insufficient Sleep Linked With Less Positivity

Poor sleep may make it more difficult for people with depression or anxiety to adopt a positive outlook, according to research published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, . In the study, participants (all of whom had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, or both) were shown disturbing or unpleasant images while they were undergoing a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their brains. The participants also provided information about their sleep during the previous month. The participants who reported poor sleep had significantly less activity in the area of the brain associated with regulating negative mood responses, meaning their ability to respond in a positive manner was impaired. For people struggling with mood disorders, getting an adequate amount of restful sleep should be a priority. Even if you don’t have depression or anxiety, getting enough sleep is important for many aspects of your health (see article on p. 4 for more information).

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