Today in Research: Screening for Breast Cancer Works; Fighting TB

Discovered: Venice is sinking, record low TB cases, more evidence that breast cancer screenings work, and very speedy planets.

  • Record low TB cases. There's good news and bad news with this one. Good news first? U.S. cases of tuberculosis fell 6.4 percent in 2011 to an all-time low of 10,521 reported cases. Great! Now for the not so good news: The U.S. will not eliminate -- ie. reduce the disease to fewer than one case per one million people -- until 2100. That is a very long time from now. [Reuters]
  • And, once again, breast cancer screenings work. The other week science found that women who had mammograms between the ages of 40 and 49 had better prognoses than those who did not. This week, a 20-year study finds breast-cancer screenings lead to a "significant" drop in deaths. How significant is significant? "Compared with the pre-screening period 1986 to 1988, deaths from breast cancer among women aged 55 to 79 fell by 31 percent in 2009," said researcher Jacques Fracheboud. "We found there was a significant change in the annual increase in breast cancer deaths: before the screening programme began, deaths were increasing by 0.3 percent a year, but afterwards there was an annual decrease of 1.7 percent. This change also coincided with a significant decrease in the rates of breast cancers that were at an advanced stage when first detected." So, there you have it. It works. [University Medical Center, Rotterdam]

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