Health news reprinted from AliveByNature.com
Breast cancer treatment • Conception finding • saving sight
Lumpectomy plus radiation worked as well as mastectomy in treating small breast tumors in three studies.
The latest evidence, including new data from a controversial study found to contain falsified records, confirms the value of lumpectomy, in which only the tumor and surrounding tissue are removed. But mastectomy may still be better for women with large tumors or a medical condition that rules out radiation.
Women are most likely to conceive on the day of ovulation or during the five days before, according to researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C. This finding challenges the previously held belief that the fertile period lasts from about three days before to three days after ovulation.
Doctors should prescribe the drug tamoxifen after breast cancer surgery for no more than five years, the National Cancer Institute advises. An NO-sponsored study found that longer use of the drug was unlikely to provide any additional survival benefit. Tamoxifen increases the risk of uterine cancer.
For children, a ride in a shopping cart is an accident waiting to happen. Ohio State University researchers found that some 25,000 children each year are hurt falling or jumping from shopping carts. From 1990 to 1992, about 2,000 children were hospitalized for head injuries, two of whom died. Some experts believe that these carts should be redesigned to reduce their chance of tipping and that children should have to be strapped in.
Laser therapy is a safe and effective alternative to medical eyedrops for treating patients with newly diagnosed cases of glaucoma, a disease in which pressure buildup in the eye threatens vision. In a study sponsored by the National Eye Institute, researchers treated one eye of each patient with drops and the other eye with laser surgery. Seven years later, the eyes treated by laser generally needed less medication, and vision were better.
Elderly patients taking the drug metoclopramide (Reglan) are three times likelier than nonusers to be mistakenly treated for Parkinson’s disease.
(The drug is usually prescribed for digestive disorders.) According to a Harvard Medical School study, the drug’s Parkinson’s-like side effects, such as trembling, often lead to costly and unnecessary treatment.
Pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis, a common vaginal infection, have an increased risk of delivering a premature, low-birth-weight baby, according to a multicenter study. And researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham report that treating women at high risk for premature delivery with two antibiotics, metronidazole and erythromycin, cut the premature delivery rate to 31%, and compared with 49% for women given a placebo.
Back traction is ineffective in relieving low-back pain. Researchers in the Netherlands treated low-back pain with real or sham traction (sham traction exerts a small ineffective pulling force; real traction exerts 35% to 50% of a person’s weight). The proportion of patients who considered themselves completely recovered or much improved, however, was the same in both groups.
The FDA has approved the following drugs for marketing: Renova (a version of Retin-A) to reduce wrinkles and fade brown spots; Valtrex, for recurrent genital herpes; Prempro and Premphase, one-tablet combination estrogen and progestin replacement therapies; Rilutek, to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis); nonprescription Femstat 3, for vaginal yeast infections; and nonprescription Zantac 75, for heartburn and acid indigestion. Recommended for approval: Avonex, the first drug to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.