Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vitamin Labels May Be a Scam

The amounts of vitamin D present in supplements sold over the counter often bear little resemblance to the descriptions on the bottle labels, a new study concludes.

Researchers used high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze pills in 55 bottles of vitamin D bought at five stores in Portland, Ore. Their results were published online last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the potency of vitamin D supplements, but companies may choose to comply with the standards of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, which requires that pills contain 90 percent to 110 percent of the listed potency.

In pills from bottles made by a single manufacturer, but in different lots, the researchers found potencies as low as 9 percent and as high as 140 percent of the listed dose.

Read more.

Monday, February 25, 2013

When Working Out, Is Less Really More?

A common concern about exercise is that if you don’t do it almost every day, you won’t achieve much health benefit. But a commendable new study suggests otherwise, showing that a fairly leisurely approach to scheduling workouts may actually be more beneficial than working out almost daily.

For the new study, published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gathered 72 older, sedentary women, ages 60 to 74, and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise groups.

One group began lifting weights once a week and performing an endurance-style workout, like jogging or bike riding, on another day.

Read more.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fake Medication Scam Leads to Mandatory Tracking of Drugs

Fighting the problem of fake drugs will require putting medications through a chain of custody like U.S. courts require for evidence in a trial, the Institute of Medicine reported Wednesday.

The call for a national drug tracking system comes a week after the Food and Drug Administration warned doctors, for the third time in about a year, that it discovered a counterfeit batch of the cancer drug Avastin that lacked the real tumor-killing ingredient.

Fake and substandard drugs have become an increasing concern as U.S. pharmaceutical companies move more of their manufacturing overseas. The risk made headlines in 2008 when U.S. patients died from a contaminated blood thinner imported from China.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Drug Developments to Treat Myeloma

Pomalyst is the latest of a half-dozen myeloma drugs developed in the decade or so since Wright got diagnosed. Another, called Kyprolis, won FDA approval last summer.

Like many so-called "targeted" cancer therapies coming out these days, the new drugs are enormously expensive. Pomalyst will cost about $10,450 a month, or more than $125,000 a year.

Dr. Brian Durie of the International Myeloma Foundation says the availability of these new drugs has been transformative.

"It really has changed the whole landscape for both the doctor and the patient," he says. "Ten or 15 years ago, it was very depressing to see a new myeloma patient because you knew that the life was potentially short and it was difficult to be overly optimistic about what might transpire."

Read more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Does Happiness Come With Age?

Wisdom may come with age, but does happiness follow suit?

Some studies show that the elderly may be more prone to depression and loneliness, which can lead to higher rates of unhappiness, not a surprise given the health and emotional challenges that tend to accompany aging. But increasing, more and more studies suggest that happiness may actually rise after middle age — at least when scientists take into account some of the non-biological factors that can influence reports of contentment.

In a new study, which was published in Psychological Science, researchers led by Angelina Sutin of Florida State University College of Medicine examined data from two large samples of people; one included nearly 2,300 primarily white and highly educated people with an average age of 69 living in a Baltimore community between 1979 and 2010. The second group included reports of well-being collected in the 1970s from a representative sample of some 3,000 adults from the U.S. population who were in their late 40s and 50s at the time of the study.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Drug Rehab Scam: What really goes on in treating addiction?

In a new book, author Anne Fletcher reveals the good and the bad state of care in drug rehab facilities.

Last summer, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released a report detailing the devastating state of addiction treatment. The bottom line: counselors with little education and less oversight are using outdated and sometimes harmful techniques; there are no national standards for credentialing or training counselors and most treatment centers, even those with extensive financial resources, do not always use best practices. In her book Inside Rehab Fletcher investigates the erratic quality of care in some of these facilities and how some centesr are working to improve treatments.

Read the interview here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wrong Priorities in Breast Cancer Research?

Too little of the money the federal government spends on breast cancer research goes toward finding environmental causes of the disease and ways to prevent it, according to a new report from a group of scientists, government officials and patient advocates established by Congress to examine the research.

The report, “Breast Cancer and the Environment — Prioritizing Prevention,” published on Tuesday, focuses on environmental factors, which it defines broadly to include behaviors, like alcohol intake and exercise; exposures to chemicals like pesticides, industrial pollutants, consumer products and drugs; radiation; and social and socioeconomic factors.

The 270-page report notes that scientists have long known that genetic and environmental factors contribute individually and also interact with one another to affect breast cancer risk. Studies of women who have moved from Japan to the United States, for instance, show that their breast cancer risk increases to match that of American women. Their genetics have not changed, so something in the environment must be having an effect. But what? Not much is known about exactly what the environmental factors are or how they affect the breast.

Read more.