Smoking can kill you, so stop — starting today
Today is the 35th annual Great American Smokeout, but according to the American Cancer Society, your chances of quitting permanently are higher if you make a solid plan rather than just tossing those cigarettes (though that can work, too). To get your plan in place, go to www.cancer.org. And if you need inspiration, consider this: Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer in the United States for both men and women. It kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined. And smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer, along with contributing to many other cancers, lung diseases and other conditions.
Treatment promising for blood pressure
Some people who couldn't get their blood pressure under control with medication found relief from an experimental treatment using radio waves to zap nerves near the kidneys that fuel high blood pressure. It is done through a tube pushed into a blood vessel in the groin, much like the angioplasty procedures for opening clogged heart arteries. In a study of about 100 people, the top number of the blood pressure reading fell an average of 33 points among those who had the treatment. Doctors say that is much better than the less-than-10-point drop that many drugs give. Study results were reported Wednesday at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago. The treatment also improves blood-sugar control, making it especially attractive for diabetics with high blood pressure.
Drug posts dramatic effect on cholesterol
An experimental drug safely boosted good cholesterol to record highs while dropping bad cholesterol to unprecedented lows in a study, also presented at the heart conference in Chicago, that stunned researchers and renewed hopes for a new way of lowering heart risks. The Merck drug, anacetrapib, needs more testing to see if its dramatic effects on cholesterol will translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths. Merck announced a 30,000-patient study that will take several years.
Committee endorses new drug for lupus
What could become the first new drug approved for lupus in more than half a century moved a big step closer to the market with endorsement from a federal advisory committee. The panel, which advises the Food and Drug Administration, voted 13 to 2 Tuesday in favor of approval of the drug, Benlysta, which was developed by Human Genome Sciences with aid from GlaxoSmithKline. The panel weighed what some members considered marginal effectiveness against the dire needs of lupus patients — mainly young women. "There is a need for a drug even with mild efficacy," said one committee member, Dr. Lenore M. Buckley of Virginia Commonwealth University. Patients and advocates at the meeting described how lupus devastated lives, causing deaths, hospitalizations, crippling fatigue and in some cases the inability to have children.
Times wire, staff reports