Left Breast Radiation More Risky for Women's Hearts

LEFT BREAST RADIATION MORE RISKY FOR WOMEN'S HEARTS Women who have radiation therapy for breast cancer on their left breast are more likely to develop heart disease, University of Pennsylvania researchers find after a study of nearly 1,000 women. The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, followed women for up to 20 years. The results showed that 25 percent of women who had left side radiation, where the heart is located, developed heart disease compared to 10 percent of women who had right side radiation. Women who had radiation on the left breast were also more likely to have had a heart attack -- 15 percent versus 5 percent. However, death from heart problems was similar in both groups. An editorial notes that women treated with radiation should be followed closely for signs of heart disease.

COPPER & FAT BAD FOR THE BRAIN? A study of more than 3,700 Chicago residents aged 65 and older finds that people who ate high-fat, high-coppe had a faster rate of cognitive decline than people who just ate high fat diets. High-fat or high-copper foods include liver, shellfish, nuts, whole grains, potatoes and chocolate. Other metals like iron and zinc did not appear to interact with the high-fat diet. But overall, researchers from Rush University Medical Center found copper didn't have any effects on mental decline; only when a person's diet contained both high amounts of fat and high amounts of copper did copper appear related to cognitive function. With ample evidence already available that high-fat diets are hard on the body and the brain, the best bet is to avoid high fat diets altogether and then copper won't be a factor. These results were published this week in Archives of Neurology.

SCHOOLS SHOULD GET KIDS MOVING The American Heart Association issued a statement Monday that calls on schools to make sure children get adequate daily physical activity. The association notes that the percentage of high school students enrolled in daily physical education dropped from nearly 42 percent in 1991 to around 28 percent in 2003. In 2000, only 8 percent of elementary schools, 6 percent of middle schools, and 6 percent of high schools provided daily physical education. The new statement says that schools should ensure that all children and youth participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, provide clubs and intra-mural activities to increase exercise opportunities, and encourage children to walk or bike to school.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.