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Health notes

By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 16, 2002

Smoking and breast cancer risk

As if lung cancer weren't scary enough, a new report by a Clearwater researcher found that women who smoke also are more likely to die of breast cancer.

The report, published in the current issue of Chemical Health & Safety, found that women who smoked were 20 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than nonsmokers. In a study of 12,500 women in Erie County, Pa., Dr. G.H. Miller and his co-authors found that 5.7 percent of smokers died of breast cancer, compared with 4.66 percent of nonsmokers.

"The data from the present study appear to show that if smoking would be eliminated among women, then death from breast cancer could be reduced by more than 20 percent," the report said.

Chemical Health & Safety is a publication of the American Chemical Society. Miller, who divides his time between Clearwater and Edinboro, Pa., is president of Studies on Smoking, a nonprofit group that researches the health effects of smoking.

Walk it off

Almost 70 percent of black women are overweight or obese, and that number is steadily rising. The epidemic has prompted the National Institutes of Health to launch a new campaign aimed at encouraging black women to improve eating and exercise habits.

Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better is part of the Weight-control Information Network of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It includes a public awareness campaign and free publications that offer recipes, tips on healthy eating and easy ways to boost physical activity.

Partners include the Association for Black Cardiologists, the National Black Nurses' Association and the American Diabetes Association.

"We are not suggesting that African-American women make dramatic changes overnight," said Dr. Griffin Rodgers, deputy director of the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "What's important is to take incremental steps toward becoming healthier."

Among American women of all races, 60 percent don't get the recommended amount of exercise -- 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week -- and 25 percent don't get any exercise at all.

Overall, about 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That puts them at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

Sisters Together offers a free program guide that will show you how to start a health awareness group as well as four booklets: Energize Yourself and Your Family; Fit and Fabulous as You Mature; Celebrate the Beauty of Youth; and Walking . . . A Step in the Right Direction.

For free copies, call NIH at 1-877-946-4627 or order online at www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit/nutrit.htm.

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