Until now, patients with advanced prostate cancer often had to get a testosterone-suppressing injection every few months. But the FDA has just approved a new product that will make life easier for them. Viadur is a match stick-size pump that’s implanted in the upper arm and continuously releases the testosterone-depressing drug leuprolide into the bloodstream for a full year. Prostate cancer patients won’t have to go see their doctors solely for injections anymore.
The Power of X-Ray Vision
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo believe that panoramic dental X-rays can warn of an impending heart attack or stroke. These X-rays often show the carotid arteries in the neck, the vessels that carry blood to the brain. Patchy, white spots in the carotids could indicate dangerous plaque buildup. “Only 2 percent of stroke victims have any warning signs,” says Laurie Carter, D.D.S., Ph.D., one of the study authors. So ask your dentist to take a look at your carotids. If he sees anything on the X-rays that looks like calcified plaque, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.
Use Olive Oil
We like it when a food can stand in for a drug. And researchers from the University of Naples in Italy think olive oil may help minimize how much high-blood-pressure medicine people need. Their study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that patients who increased their intake of extra-virgin olive oil and cut back on other types of oil and fat were able to lower the dosages of their blood-pressure medicines by an average of 48 percent. Some were able to control their BP without any medication at all. “Extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidant polyphenols, compounds that help dilate arteries,” says one of the study authors, Aldo Ferrara, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine.
Magnets May Help Zap Tumors
Researchers at UCLA Medical Center think magnets may help make chemotherapy more effective. They added particles of iron to a chemotherapy drug before injecting it into an artery feeding a tumor. Then they put a magnet right over the tumor and drew the iron-laced chemicals to it. “This type of technology may mean the therapy can be concentrated right on the tumor site,” says Scott Goodwin, M.D., one of the study authors. It may not only make the medicine more effective, but also reduce side effects. The study was the first in a series needed to get FDA approval for the procedure.
Get Well, Keep Your Hair
Chemotherapy leads to hair loss because the drugs can’t distinguish between cancer cells and hair-follicle cells. But researchers at Glaxo Wellcome have developed a gel that may help prevent the hair-loss side effect of cancer treatment. The gel slows the growth of hair follicles, so treatment chemicals don’t mistake them for cancer cells. So far, it’s only at the animal-study stage. If human studies confirm the findings, patients will rub the gel into their scalps before a chemotherapy treatment and wash it out a few hours later.