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Health & wellness

Be Well

Support helps breast cancer patients manage pain

Breast cancer patients who say they have a large social network are better able to manage pain and other physical symptoms of the disease, according to a study that examined how social support affects patients’ quality of life.

The study included more than 3,000 patients in California who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2011. During the first two months after their diagnosis, the women completed a survey.

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Women who reported the highest level of social support were more likely to also say they had a better emotional quality of life while undergoing treatment. The more family and friends the women had to socialize with, the better their overall quality of life. Women who had little to no social interactions with family and friends were three times more likely to report feeling more physical symptoms from their disease.

For women with late-stage cancer, physical support from others, such as helping out with household chores and driving to doctor’s visits, was also linked to higher quality of life. Women who had less tangible support were nearly three times more likely to report lower-than-average quality of life.

BOTTOM LINE: Breast cancer patients who say they have a large social network are better able to manage pain and other physical symptoms of the disease

CAUTIONS: Women’s self-reported levels of support and quality of life may not have always been accurate.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, May 9

Preordering school lunches a healthier option, study finds

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Elementary school students who preorder their school lunches may end up choosing healthier meals than if they order in the moment, a study by researchers at Cornell University found.

The study included 272 first- through fifth-graders from two elementary schools in New York. For two months, the students used an electronic survey to pre-select their lunch entree, choosing between a healthy or unhealthy option. During that time, 29 percent of students preordered the healthier option, which included fruits or vegetables, compared with 15 percent who chose it when preordering was no longer available.

The findings suggest that planning ahead for meals can eliminate the spontaneous temptation to choose unhealthy foods when children are hungry, the authors said.

BOTTOM LINE: Elementary school students who preorder their school lunches may end up choosing healthier meals than if they order in the moment.

CAUTIONS: The study was too short to assess whether students would continue to pre-select a healthier menu for a longer term, and the participants were not representative of all children.

WHERE TO FIND IT: JAMA Pediatrics, online May 3

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