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Say 'Aaah' | Capsules

Researchers Question Pro-Caffeine Conclusion of Parkinson's Report

May 29, 2000|THOMAS H. MAUGH II

Two large studies have confirmed smaller studies showing that the new arthritis drugs Celebrex and Vioxx are substantially less likely to cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen.

Each study involved about 8,000 arthritis patients. Some patients in each study received conventional treatment with NSAIDs; the rest received either Vioxx or Celebrex. Both studies showed that patients receiving NSAIDs were at least twice as likely to suffer ulcers, bleeding and other adverse effects as those taking the newer drugs. The studies, released last week at the Digestive Diseases Week meeting in San Diego, were funded by Pfizer Inc., which manufactures Celebrex, and by Merck & Co., which sells Vioxx.

Concussions' Effects on Athletes Observed

Athletes who return to action shortly after being knocked unconscious are risking serious injury to the brain, according to UCLA researchers. Athletes' brains are already exhibiting subpar performance as a result of the first blow, and a second one soon afterward could cause severe damage, a team led by Dr. Marvin Bergsneider reported in Monday's issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Bergsneider's team performed PET scans on 42 patients to analyze how their brains were using energy in the aftermath of a concussion. In the scans, radioactively labeled sugar molecules are injected into the bloodstream, and researchers can watch them being taken up by cells--a measure of how actively the cells are functioning.

The team could find no difference in energy use between those who had just suffered a concussion and people who were in comas and severely brain-injured. Earlier animal studies have shown that such low sugar use by brain cells renders them much more susceptible to damage from trauma.

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Medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II can be reached at thomas.maugh@latimes.com.

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