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Health & wellness

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Breast MRI may yield unnecessary surgery

Older women diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to get a mastectomy, even having the healthy breast removed, if they’ve undergone a magnetic-resonance imaging test, according to a Yale University study. The findings suggest that women are undergoing potentially unnecessary procedures, the authors wrote.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine tracked the use of breast MRI and surgical care of more than 70,000 women ages 67 to 94 on Medicare who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2009. During that time, the use of MRI before surgery increased from 1 percent to 25 percent of patients.

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The women who received an MRI were more likely to undergo a mastectomy, removing all or part of the breast. Among women who had surgery, 12.5 percent of those who had an MRI had both breasts removed, compared with 4.1 percent of those who did not have an MRI. Also, women who had an MRI were more likely to have both breasts removed even though cancerous tissue was found in only one. The long-term benefits of having both breasts removed are unclear, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Older women with breast cancer are more likely to get a mastectomy if they’ve had a magnetic-resonance imaging test.

CAUTIONS: The researchers did not look at other risk factors that may have contributed to the decision to undergo a mastectomy.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Aug. 14

Soda linked to kids’ behavior problems

Soda consumption has contributed to the rise in childhood obesity rates, and a new study suggests that children who drink many servings of soda daily are also more likely to have attention and behavior problems.

Researchers from multiple institutions including the Harvard School of Public Health looked at data from 3,000 5-year-olds from 20 major US cities. Their mothers filled out periodic surveys between 1998 and 2000.

The mothers reported that 43 percent of the children drank at least one soft drink serving a day, while 4 percent drank four servings or more. The more soda a child reportedly drank daily, the more likely they were described to have aggression, withdrawal, and attention problems — even when the researchers took into account other factors, such as economic status and family life, that may have contributed to their behavior. Children who drank four or more sodas a day were more than twice as likely to destroy property and get into physical fights with others than children who did not drink soda. The increased consumption of sugar in these beverages may be the culprit, the authors wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Children who drink soda are more likely to have attention and behavior problems.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on reports by mothers, which may not be accurate, and does not prove a causal relationship between drinking soda and behavior problems.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of Pediatrics, Aug. 16

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