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June 5, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
A drug already on the market to treat severely clenched fingers may also be useful in treating the excessively curved penis caused by Peyronie's disease, researchers reported Monday. If the findings are validated in larger trials, the drug, called Xiaflex, could become the first effective medical treatment for the condition, which apart from embarrassment can cause impotence and pain. The company that manufactures the drug, Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc.  of Malvern, Pa., said it hopes to have approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market the drug for this purpose by the end of the year.
May 14, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots Blog
Smoking marijuana to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis is a practice with a fair number of adherents, though it has not been subject to rigorous testing. A new study finds that puffing weed does have a rapid and measurable effect on MS patients' muscle spasticity and on their perception of pain. But subjects who smoked pot were not able to walk any faster and -- surprise! -- they felt higher than members of the control group who smoked marijuana stripped of THC. The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, recruited 30 MS patients who suffered from spasticity -- stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms that are a common symptom of MS -- as well as from pain, usually in the back.
January 24, 2012 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Drinking three cups of black tea daily over months may help lower blood pressure, a study suggests. In a research paper released this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine , black tea was tested against a placebo to see whether drinking the beverage over time had any effect on lowering blood pressure in male and female test subjects, ages 35 to 75. The 95 study participants had systolic blood pressure readings ranging from 115 to...
January 9, 2012 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Older people with mild cognitive impairment may get some help from a nicotine patch, a study suggests. Researchers tested nicotine patches and a placebo on memory and other brain functions in 74 people (average age 76)  in a double-blind study. None of the participants, who had minor memory loss, was a current smoker, although some had smoked previously. The patches were worn for six months and tests on memory and thinking skills were administered at the start of the study, and three and six months later.
November 2, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
All her life, Lindsay Shipp knew that she was dying. As a baby, she would cry after eating, and salt collected on her forehead. The diagnosis was cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disease that, at the time, meant a life expectancy of 18 years. The disease, which affects 30,000 people in the United States, hinders the movement of salt in the body. Because of this, the pancreas fails soon after birth, patients cannot properly digest food, and their airways fill with mucus, leaving them vulnerable to lung infections and other problems.
October 27, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Patients with a genetic condition that increases their risk of colon and other cancers who took aspirin daily developed colon cancer less often than patients who took a placebo, researchers reported Thursday. The study, which was the first randomized controlled trial to look at the effect of aspirin on cancer rates, was published in the journal the Lancet. Professor John Burn, a geneticist at Newcastle University in England, led the research team.  The group followed 861 people with Lynch syndrome, which increases the risk of developing colon and other cancers.  Some of the patients took two 600 mg aspirins every day, others took a placebo.
October 12, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Ginger root supplements may help tamp down markers for colon inflammation, a study finds. The study, published online Tuesday in the journal Cancer Prevention Research , included 30 men and women who were randomly assigned to take 2 grams of a ginger root supplement or a placebo for 28 days. The participants were at normal risk for colon cancer -- they had no family history of the disease and no evidence of the disease. Ginger root is a popular supplement that's often used to treat stomach ailments.
October 11, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Taking vitamin E and selenium supplements not only failed to prevent prostate cancer in men, a new study finds that daily vitamin E pills appear to raise the risk of the disease. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. , is yet another reminder that the effect of dietary supplements on health isn't always rewarding or even innocuous. The SELECT study (which stands for Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) began in 2001 and recruited more than 35,000 men age 50 and older at 400 study sites nationwide.
September 27, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
More than 2 million American men have turned to saw palmetto extract to help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of having an enlarged prostate. It remains a popular herbal remedy despite the fact that a spate of clinical trials in the past 10 years have found its benefits to be limited at best. That may change once men learn about the results of a new trial published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. First, a primer on enlarged prostates.
September 13, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
Inhaling a concentrated cloud of insulin through the nose twice a day appears to slow — and in some cases reverse — symptoms of memory loss in people with early signs of Alzheimer's disease, a new pilot study has found. The study involved only 104 people and is considered very preliminary. But it suggests that a safe, simple and cheap measure that boosts flagging metabolism in key areas of the brain could hold off or possibly derail the progression of the devastating neurological disorder in its early stages.
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