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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

Health briefs

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Prostate cancer risk reduced

Men age 50 and over may be able to cut their risk of prostate cancer in half with daily doses of prescription or over-the-counter nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen), according to a Mayo Clinic study.

The six-year follow-up study of 1,362 men ages 50 to 79 found that 4 percent of those taking NSAIDs developed prostate cancer compared with 9 percent of men who did not, Dr. Rosebud O. Roberts reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

NSAIDs are thought to work by inhibiting the action of the COX-2 enzyme, which is involved in inflammation and cancer.

Rise in food-allergy deaths debunked

There is no evidence to support fears that severe or fatal food allergies are dramatically increasing among children, a large English study has found.

A review of health records of millions of children over a 10-year period found that nine died of food allergies, giving a death rate of 0.006 for every 100,000 children, said Dr. Andrew Cant of Newcastle General Hospital in Newcastle. Milk was responsible for four deaths, and none of the others was caused by peanut allergy.

"The finding of so few deaths in such a large population should reassure parents and doctors that the risk of death is small," Cant reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

High cholesterol limits brain power

For nearly two decades researchers have suggested that high cholesterol was a major risk factor for coronary disease. Now they're saying it may diminish brain power as well. An analysis of elderly women taking cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins found a link between high cholesterol and poorer performance in tests that measure cognitive skills.

"The higher cholesterol these women had, the worse they did on cognitive testing," said Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "And using statins seemed to be beneficial to their performance on these tests."

The study was published in Archives of Neurology.

Body lotion soothes hot flash

Menopausal women may soon be able to alleviate their hot flashes with a body lotion.

An estrogen lotion, Estrasorb, reduced hot flashes in 85 percent of the women who used it. The manufacturer, Novavax Inc., has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve the product for marketing later this year.

The medication in Estrasorb, estradiol, can be found in other types of hormone replacement products, such as pills and skin patches, but women may prefer the lotion, said Dr. James Simon, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at George Washington University School of Medicine.