Prostate health linked to low cholesterol
Men may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower, new research suggests. One study found that men whose cholesterol was in a healthy range — below 200 — had less than half the risk of developing high-grade prostate tumors compared with men with high cholesterol. A second study found that men with lots of HDL, or "good cholesterol," were a little less likely to develop any form of prostate cancer than men with very low HDL. Both studies were published Tuesday in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The two studies fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. More than 192,000 new cases are expected to occur in the United States this year, leading to an estimated 27,360 deaths.
New lupus drug may be out in 2010
A new drug to treat lupus has passed a second clinical trial, paving the way for it to become the first new treatment approved for lupus in 50 years. Benlysta's maker, Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Md., said it would apply to the FDA for approval in the first half of next year. It could be on the market in late 2010. "This is spectacular news for the worldwide lupus community," said Dr. Tammy O. Utset of the University of Chicago. The trials "should encourage further interest in drug development for lupus, an area of great unmet need." Lupus, which affects an estimated 160,000 Americans and as many as 5 million people worldwide, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs, causing a host of symptoms, including arthritis, kidney damage, chest pain, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash that some early doctors thought resembled wolf bites (lupus means "wolf" in Latin). Treatments involve steroids and other drugs that alleviate symptoms but have a variety of side effects, many of them severe.
Study: OTC meds work for heartburn
Given that a month's supply of Nexium has a retail price tag of up to $240 a month, compared with just $24 a month for an over-the-counter equivalent, your heartburn may be relieved knowing that Consumer Reports says the cheaper version works just as well for most people. "We think doctors have been too quick to prescribe expensive, prescription medications when a generic or an over-the-counter would work just as well," says Lisa Gill, editor, prescription drugs for Consumer Reports Health. CR's advice: Start with an inexpensive, over-the-counter antacid (such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums or generic) or an H2 blocker (Pepcid AC, Zantac 150 or generic). People who suffer from frequent heartburn may have gastroesophageal reflux disease and should see a doctor. They may need proton pump inhibitors, the class of drugs that includes Nexium and cheaper alternatives such as Prilosec OTC or its generic version, omeprazole OTC, which costs less than $1 a day.
Compiled from Times wires
For more health news and the Personal Best blog with Irene Maher's daily tips, go to www.blogs.tampabay.com/health.