Health Highlights: May 19, 2007

Almost 50 percent of women surveyed have indicated a desire to eliminate monthly periods, and most would rather have periods less often, the wire service said.

I think it's the beginning of it being very common," Dr. Leslie Miller, a University of Washington-Seattle obstetrician/gynecologist told the AP. "Lybrel says, 'You don't need a period.'"

Lybrel should hit the U.S. market in July, and analysts have predicted that sales could reach $40 million this year and $235 million by 2010, the AP reported.

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Boiling 'Cabbage Family' Veggies Cuts Anti-Cancer Properties

Boiling broccoli and related kinds of vegetables -- including cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts -- reduces their anti-cancer properties, according to a U.K. study in the journal Food Chemistry and Toxicology.

Researchers at the University of Warwick Medical School found that boiling these vegetables causes the loss of a substance called glucosinolate. When consumed, glucosinolate changes into another compound called isothiocyanate, which fights the effects of carcinogens and hastens their removal from the body, Agence France-Presse reported.

The study found that boiling reduced glucosinolate content by 77 percent in broccoli, 58 percent in Brussels sprouts, 75 percent in cauliflower, and 65 percent in green cabbage.

Steaming, stir-frying or microwaving had little effect on these vegetables, however, AFP reported.

There are a number of other related vegetables with anti-cancer properties, including collards, kale, horseradish, radish, watercress, boy choy, rutabaga, kohlrabi, turnips, and Chinese cabbage.

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5% Reduction in Smoking Could Save 100 Million Lives

A 5 percent worldwide reduction in the number of smokers by 2020 would save at least 100 million lives, according to a study by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.

Currently, about 25 percent of adults (one billion people) in the world are smokers. Reducing that to 20 percent can be achieved by increasing tobacco taxes, expanding smoke-free zones, banning tobacco advertising, and helping people kick the habit, said the study. It noted that a number of countries have already cut adult smoking levels to less than 20 percent, Agence France-Presse reported.

Special focus must be made on educating smokers and would-be smokers in developing nations about the dangers of tobacco, Bloomberg and Frieden said. They pointed out that two-thirds of smokers live in 15 low- or middle-income nations and that 50 percent live in just five countries -- China, India, Russia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

"Keeping rates low is especially important for the large population of young women in Asia and elsewhere who do not currently smoke but are targeted by the tobacco industry," according to the study, which was published Friday in The Lancet medical journal.

Bloomberg is an ex-smoker who spent $125 million of his own money to start a Worldwide Stop Smoking Initiative last year, AFP reported.

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Blood from Donors With Undiagnosed Cancer No Threat

European researchers say that blood from donors with undiagnosed cancers does not appear to increase the risk of cancer in people who receive it, CBC News reported.

Danish and Swedish researchers analyzed data from a computerized blood bank on 350,000 people who received blood transfusions. Of those, 12,000 received blood products from donors with undiagnosed cancers at the time they gave blood. The recipients were followed for up to 34 years.

"Our data provide no evidence that blood transfusions from precancerous blood donors are associated with increased risk of cancer among recipients compared with transfusions from non-cancerous donors," the study authors wrote.

The study was published this week in The Lancet medical journal.

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