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Side Effects

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.
September 13, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
U.S. consumers might put a little too much faith in the FDA's role as a gatekeeper for marketable drugs, according to a new study -- but giving patients a little bit of information about such drugs can actually help people make better treatment choices. For the study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, two researchers surveyed 2,944 people and tested which hypothetical cholesterol drug they would choose: one that had a "patient outcome" (reduced heart attacks) or one that only had a "surrogate outcome" (lower cholesterol)
September 8, 2011 | By Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein
Your doctor gives you an expensive new drug to control your cholesterol, or recommends a certain brand of artificial hip, or says you need a stent to open a clogged artery. He's the expert. But how do you know his expertise is untainted? The makers of the drug, the replacement hip or the stent may have paid your doctor to deliver promotional talks extolling the virtues of the product. Or they could be paying him, or her, to consult on marketing plans. It doesn't necessarily follow, of course, that this kind of moonlighting influences the treatment you receive.
August 23, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Psoriasis medications, such as Enbrel and Remicade, are often effective but have been linked with reports of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. An analysis published Tuesday suggests that the medications do not raise the risk of cardiovascular side effects. But the authors of the study cautioned that more research is needed Researchers at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, examined data from 22 studies to look at side effects related to treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis with biological therapies called anti-IL-12/23 agents.
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