Women with Premature Menopause Face Higher Risk for Dangerous Condition
Women with spontaneous premature ovarian failure (POF) are 300 times more likely than members of the general population to develop a serious condition in which the body attacks the adrenal glands, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). An estimated one percent of American women develop POF by age 40. The condition occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs and reproductive hormones well in advance of natural menopause.
Primary auto-immune adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease, occurs when the body’s own immune system makes antibodies that attack and destroy the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce hormones that regulate salt metabolism and the body’s response to stress. While easily treated by replacing these missing hormones, Addison’s disease can be life threatening if left untreated.
The study also found that adrenal antibody tests can effectively determine if women with POF are at risk for Addison’s disease.
HRT May Increase Ovarian Cancer Risk Slightly
Women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may have a slightly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to a recent study. Researchers stressed that the findings were not enough to recommend changes for the treatment of menopause in women.
The study revealed that in a group of 1,000 women taking HRT drugs, there may be two or three more cases of ovarian cancer. HRT has been under fire recently, suspected of increasing breast and ovarian cancer risk. But while these risks remain questionable even after numerous studies, the benefits of HRT—such as controlling symptoms of menopause and preventing brittle bone disease—are well established.
Engineered Virus Makes Cancer Cells Self-Destruct
Scientists have developed a new tactic for fighting cancer: convince cancer cells to commit suicide. The new treatment was developed by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and involves the engineering of a virus that causes the cancer cells—but not healthy cells—to self-destruct.
Normal cells contain a protein called PKR, which is activated when a cell is attacked by a virus causing RNA replication. The activated protein causes the cell to destroy itself to prevent the virus from spreading. The Hebrew University team’s virus is similar to HIV, but it affects only cancer cells, causing them to die without harming the body’s healthy cells.
Obviously, the benefits of such a treatment would be astounding, since current chemotherapy treatments kill cancer cells but also harm the healthy ones. However, the researchers cautioned that more research would have to be completed before the treatment is ready for use on humans.