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Briefs: Aspirin may cut death risk from colon cancer

aspirin may cut death risk from colon cancer

Score another win for the humble aspirin. Its merit in colon cancer prevention has been tempered by its side effects, bleeding from irritation of the stomach or intestines. But a new study suggests patients who already have the most common type of tumor, those that overproduce the Cox-2 enzyme, reduce their risk of cancer death by 29 percent by taking aspirin along with surgery and chemotherapy. "The paper is absolutely incredible, and I don't gush normally," said Dr. Alfred Neugut of Columbia University Medical Center in New York who was not involved in the study. He wrote an editorial that appeared with the study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Breast-feeding may curb cancer risk

Women of childbearing age who have a family history of breast cancer may be able to reduce their own risk by breast-feeding, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Earlier studies had hinted that breast-feeding might lower a woman's chance of developing the disease, but the new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School seems clearer. This look at participants in the famous Nurses' Health Study found that women who had a so-called first-degree relative with breast cancer were less likely to develop pre-menopausal breast cancer if they had breast-fed. Duration of breast-feeding didn't affect risk, the study said, nor did whether the women supplemented with formula, or whether they experienced a cessation of menstruation. Just the act of breast-feeding. No such connection was found in women who didn't have a family history of breast cancer.

Osteoporosis drug promising, costly

A first-of-its-kind osteoporosis drug lowers the risk of bone fractures as well as or better than current medicines, studies in older women and men with prostate cancer suggest. But doctors see its expected high cost as a big drawback. Denosumab is genetically engineered to block one pathway involved in the natural breakdown of bone cells. FDA staff have cited an increased risk of skin infections with the drug, which has not yet been approved for use. Denosumab, an injection just under the skin given twice a year, would have to compete against eight major types of pills and injected medicines. Those drugs' retail prices can range from about $120 a year for generic Fosamax, to several thousand dollars for some injected drugs. Genetically engineered drugs, made by altering a cell's DNA or other genetic material, all cost more than $10,000 a year. "It'll find a particular niche where it'll be used, but I don't see it as taking over the market," said Dr. Sundeep Khosla, a professor and osteoporosis researcher at the Mayo Clinic not involved in the studies, which were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine and financed by Amgen, maker of denosumab.

Compiled from Times wires

Tell us your story

Medical care during the final months of life has been in the news more than ever lately. We'd like to hear from Tampa Bay area families who have grappled with the physical, emotional and financial costs associated with the end of life. If you are willing to speak to a reporter in detail, including the role that your family member's age and medical condition, as well as your faith, insurance coverage, general finances and traditions played in your decisions, please e-mail health and medicine editor Charlotte Sutton at by Friday.

Briefs: Aspirin may cut death risk from colon cancer 08/12/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 6:16pm]
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