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Medical Research

March 15, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
It seemed like a good idea. Diabetics are at an unusually high risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke, so sharply reducing their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar should be highly beneficial. But a decade of studies of thousands of patients show that is not the case. Two new reports from a major nationwide trial called ACCORD released Sunday show that lowering either blood pressure or cholesterol below current guidelines does not provide additional benefit and, in fact, increases the risk of side effects.
March 6, 2010 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Minority and low-income women in Los Angeles County are more likely to have limited access to healthcare and to struggle with chronic diseases, according to a new report by the county Department of Public Health. The report, "Health Indicators for Women in Los Angeles County," was released last week by the Office of Women's Health and the Office of Health Assessment & Epidemiology. Among the findings: African American women were far more likely to suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, and to die from chronic illnesses.
February 18, 2010 | By John Hoeffel
With an innovative but little-known state program to study medical marijuana about to run out of money, researchers and political supporters said Wednesday the results show promise. "It should take all the mystery out of whether it works. We've got the results," said former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who led the effort to create the 10-year-old Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. The center has nearly spent its $8.7-million allocation, sponsoring 14 studies at UC campuses, including the first clinical trials of smoked marijuana in the United States in more than two decades.
February 17, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Women who take aspirin regularly after their breast cancer goes into remission are about 50% less likely to suffer a recurrence or to die from the disease, according to new findings from the ongoing Nurses' Health Study. The results, reported Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, are surprising because at least five large studies have shown that taking aspirin regularly has no effect on the risk of developing breast cancer in the first place. The study's authors described the findings as surprising and worthy of follow-up, but even they cautioned that survivors shouldn't yet begin prophylactic aspirin use. The new results could be because the process of metastasis of breast cancer is different than that of initiation and could thus be susceptible to influence by aspirin.
February 14, 2010 | By Margot Roosevelt
Los Angeles residents living near freeways experience a hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease and strokes at twice the rate of those who live farther away, a study has found. The paper is the first to link automobile and truck exhaust to the progression of atherosclerosis -- the thickening of artery walls -- in humans. The study was conducted by researchers from USC and UC Berkeley, along with colleagues in Spain and Switzerland, and published this week in the journal PloS ONE. Researchers used ultrasound to measure the carotid artery wall thickness of 1,483 people who lived within 100 meters, or 328 feet, of Los Angeles freeways.
January 29, 2010 | By Henry Chu
The British doctor whose suggestion of a link between the MMR shot and autism helped cause vaccination rates to plunge conducted his now-discredited research in a dishonest and irresponsible manner, medical authorities here concluded Thursday. It was the latest development in a long-running health controversy that has seen measles make a comeback among British children after being all but wiped out. The General Medical Council, Britain's medical regulator, found that Andrew Wakefield acted unethically in the way he collected blood samples from children and in his failure to disclose payments from lawyers representing parents who believed the vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella -- given as a single shot, referred to as the MMR vaccine -- had hurt their kids.
January 14, 2010 | By Karen Kaplan
Early administration of morphine to military personnel wounded on the front lines during Operation Iraqi Freedom appears to have done more than relieve excruciating pain. Scientists believe it also prevented hundreds of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, the debilitating condition that plagues 15% of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That conclusion is based on findings published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. They suggest that a simple treatment can stop a single horrifying event from escalating into a chronic, incapacitating illness.
January 12, 2010 | By Shari Roan
For children diagnosed with worsening myopia, bifocals might be a better choice than standard lenses for nearsightedness; researchers have found that the condition doesn't seem to progress as rapidly among bifocal-wearing children. Those findings, released Monday, raise the intriguing question of whether there is a better way to treat myopia early in its course, slowing its typical progression. The condition, in which near vision is clear but distance vision is blurry, is usually identified in childhood and worsens until late adolescence.
January 12, 2010 | By Jeannine Stein
Watching television for hour upon hour obviously isn't the best way to spend leisure time -- inactivity has been linked to obesity and heart disease. But a new study quantifies TV viewing's effect on risk of death. Researchers found that each hour a day spent watching TV was linked with an 18% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, an 11% greater risk of all causes of death, and a 9% increased risk of death from cancer. The study, released Monday in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Assn.
January 10, 2010 | By Karen Kaplan
Dr. Karen Aboody estimates that she has cured several hundred mice of a cancer of the central nervous system called neuroblastoma. First she injected them with specialized neural stem cells that naturally zero in on the tumors and surround them. Then she administered an anti-cancer agent that the cells converted into a highly toxic drug. In her tests, 90% of the animals were rid of their tumors while healthy brain tissue remained undamaged. To hear Aboody tell it, that was the easy part.
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