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The Takeaway: Ample Exercise, Good Fats Tied To Earlier Menopause; Dark Side of Prostate Cancer Screening

Exercise, Good Fats and Menopause: A new Japanese study shows women  are more likely to hit menopause early if they exercise avidly or eat a diet high in good fats. Menopause generally begins between ages 41 and 55, with little indication whom it will hit when. In this study, researchers tracked more than 3,100 premenopausal women, ages 35-56, over a 10-year period. They found those who exercised the most-about eight to 10 hours per week-were 17 percent more likely to start menopause during the study than their sedentary counterparts.  Women who ate the most polyunsaturated fats-the 'good fats' found in things like fish and olive oil-were 15 percent more likely to reach menopause than those who consumed the least of these fats. Researchers stress that this doesn't mean either working out or heart-healthy foods are directly responsible for causing earlier menopause. Some other studies on menopause have been contradictory, showing high levels of physical activity linked to irregular menstrual cycles, which could lead to later menopause. Neither total fat intake, types of fat other than polyunsaturated, dietary fiber, soy or alcohol were significantly linked to the timing of menopause.

Prostate Screening's Dark Side: USA Today is featuring the stories of men who were harmed by prostate cancer screenings. Prostate cancer screenings have been big news lately, following the U.S. Preventative Services' Task Force recommendation that all healthy men forgo routine PSA blood tests(the tests used to screen for prostate cancer) because they do more harm than good.

Terry Dyroff's PSA blood test led to a prostate biopsy that didn't find cancer but gave him a life-threatening infection. [...] Donald Weaver was a healthy 74-year-old Kansas farmer until doctors went looking for prostate cancer. A PSA test led to a biopsy and surgery, then a heart attack, organ failure and a coma. His grief-stricken wife took him off life support. "He died of unnecessary preventive medicine," said his nephew, Dr. Jay Siwek, vice chairman of family medicine at Georgetown University. "Blood tests can kill you."

The harm comes not from the test itself, but from everything it triggers-biopsies that are often for false alarms, treatment of prostate cancers (and the impotence, incontinence and other problems associated with treatment) that would never have really become a threat.

See Also: Should You Have a PSA Test for Prostate Cancer? >> 

While routine PSA testing is still supported by some advocacy group, urologists, and doctors ( and Newt Gingrich), it's not endorsed by any major scientific groups, the American Cancer Society or the federal government.

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( Photo: J.C. Leacock/Aurora Photos)

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