Daily Weighing May Help Keep the Pounds Off

CHILDHOOD CANCER SURVIVORS FACE TOUGH HEALTH PROBLEMS Childhood cancer survivors may have won the war against cancer, but they too often face uphill battles with other health problems, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors followed more than 10,000 adult survivors of childhood cancer, some who had been treated more than 30 years earlier, and compared the survivors to their healthy siblings. Nearly two-thirds of the cancer survivors had at least one chronic health problem, were more than three times as likely to have a chronic health problem than their siblings were, and more than eight times as likely to have a severe or life-threatening health problem, such as recurring cancer, heart failure, hearing loss or infertility. The study also highlights the good news in childhood cancer treatment -- more than 98 percent of the survivors were still alive at the study's conclusion.

KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF Daily weighing helps dieters keep the weight off, especially if they report their weight to someone else, finds a new study that followed more than 300 dieters who had lost an average of 42 pounds. Dieters who reported their daily weight to counselors using an Internet form also did better at keeping the weight off compared with those who just received newsletters. If their weight started to creep up, counselors gave advice to the dieters, either over-the-phone or via the Web, about maintaining their weight. The face-to-face dieters also attended group meetings, similar to those at Weight Watchers, for encouragement and feedback. Experts say it's important to keep track of small changes in weight, because it's easier to make small adjustments in your diet and exercise than it is to make large adjustments after a big weight gain. This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers from Brown Medical School.

ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS FOR ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE A new study on the use of antipsychotic medications such as Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa finds that they can help some Alzheimer's patients who suffer from hallucinations, delusions and aggression, but that they also produce a lot of side effects, which limits their usefulness. In the study, the percentage of patients who improved on the antipsychotic drugs was similar to the percentage who had to stop taking them due to intolerable side effects. A significant percentage of patients also stopped taking the placebo because it did not help their symptoms. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, highlights the real need for better drugs, because the psychotic symptoms in Alzheimer's patients are among the most difficult to manage.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.

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