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Side Effects

February 9, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A compound that looked to be a possible wonder drug for obesity and metabolic disease, such as diabetes, may not make it to store shelves. Research published this week shows the hormone, called fibroblast growth factor 21, causes bone loss while it burns fat. The finding is yet another setback in the difficult field of drug development aimed at the country's obesity epidemic. Two studies, one published last week in the journal Cell, and another published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used mice to examine the effects of FGF21.
January 30, 2012 | By Katherine Schlaerth
It sounds like a great idea when you first hear it: Medicare is making its claims files available to insurers, employers and consumer groups so they can prepare report cards on individual doctors. The files will reveal such things as how many times doctors perform particular procedures as well as how often their patients develop preventable complications. Medicare itself will maintain a website to allow patients to compare doctors, and says it intends to one day include on the site patient satisfaction surveys for individual doctors.
January 15, 2012 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
Once fleet and ephemeral, defined as much by time and season as strawberries or sweet corn once were, television is undergoing a similar transformation in genetics and packaging that is neatly summed up by the Netflix new original series "Lilyhammer. " That Netflix got into the original programming business was to be expected — eventually, you have to actually make something. That the entertainment company would premiere all eight of its episodes at once was in its own way not surprising either.
December 26, 2011 | By Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Special to the Los Angeles Times
When your 3-year-old is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket or has poured his milk all over the floor, the urge to spank may be overwhelming. If you've ever given in to that urge, you're not alone - research shows that up to 90% of parents spank their children, at least occasionally. But does it work? And more importantly, is it harmful to kids? Once considered a fairly standard parenting practice, spanking is now opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Assn.
December 9, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Some women stop taking their breast cancer drugs early, and a study reveals why: side effects from the medication may be more than they can bear. The study included 686 postmenopausal women who were taking aromatase inhibitors, which halt estrogen production in postmenopausal women whose cancer cells are fueled by the hormone, thus reducing the risk of the cancer returning. The recommended length of time to stay on the medication is five years. Among the participants, 10% quit after two years and 54% quit between 25 months and 4.1 years.
December 5, 2011 | By Tammy Worth, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Karen Smuland has always been an anxious person. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York's World Trade Center, she had her first panic attack and ended up in an emergency room, convinced that she was dying. The 48-year-old architect from Bend, Ore., was quickly diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. In the years since then, she has struggled to gain mastery over the condition through a mixture of therapy, medication and a lot of trial and error. She tried several medications before settling on the anti-anxiety drug Effexor, the only one that didn't give her troublesome side effects.
November 18, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
The cancer drug Avastin should not be used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other organs because it doesn't help patients enough to justify its risky side effects, the Food and Drug Administration ruled Friday. The decision comes five months after an FDA advisory committee recommended that the federal agency withdraw its approval of Avastin for breast cancer patients. Clinical trial results have fueled doubts for years about its value for treating breast cancer. Still, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said the choice was difficult because so many women and their doctors have put their faith in the drug and lobbied hard on its behalf.
October 14, 2011 | By Gary Goldstein
How and why potentially — and historically — life-saving vaccinations, especially those mandated for children, have become a 21st century medical and political tinderbox is deftly examined by producers and co-directors Kendall Nelson and Chris Pilaro in their provocative documentary "The Greater Good. " The filmmakers put human faces on this polarizing issue by focusing largely on three American children devastated, it is believed, by post-vaccine side effects. They include Gabi Swank, an inspiring teen who suffered neurological damage after taking the much-hyped HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer (this same vaccine put advocate Gov. Rick Perry in the cross hairs during a recent GOP presidential debate)
October 10, 2011 | By Valerie Ulene, Special to the Los Angeles Times
It's getting harder for me to deny that I've reached middle age, and the most obvious sign is that the men in my life are losing their hair. Many men struggle to come to terms with hair loss and yearn for a way to turn back the clock. Although I'm no expert on the subject, I've suggested they look into Propecia, a medication used to treat male pattern hair loss. Invariably, they're intrigued. It works by preventing testosterone from turning into another hormone that causes hair loss.
October 3, 2011 | Lisa Zamosky, Zamosky has been writing about how to access and pay for healthcare for more than 10 years
I recently had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my breast and will soon be starting chemotherapy. I was surprised by the amount of medication I was told to take before I begin chemo, including anti-nausea and allergy medications. I'm wondering if this is common. How are patients typically prepared for chemo treatment? Anti-nausea and anti-allergy medications are routinely given to breast cancer patients preparing for chemotherapy, says Dr. Christy A. Russell, co-director of the breast center at USC Norris Cancer Hospital and past president of the California division of the American Cancer Society.
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