New Analysis Doesn't Find Evidence of Vytorin-Cancer Link
A three-study analysis, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, did not find compelling evidence linking the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin (ezetimibe) to an increased risk of cancer. The results counter recently released results from the SEAS study that led the Food and Drug Administration to announce an investigation into a possible link between the drug and various cancers. Additionally, a second study also published in the NEJM found that taking Vytorin with a statin did not benefit patients with aortic stenosis (abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve). "This study reduces our worry that ezetimibe might cause cancer, which was suggested by the recent SEAS study," Dr. Bryon Lee, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, told HealthDay. "However, this doesn't address our lingering worry that ezetimibe simply might not work. It lowers cholesterol, but it has yet been shown to lower important endpoints like heart attack and stroke."
In January, U.S. News's Avery Comarow provided questions and answers on statins after a study showed that Vytorin—a combination of the statin Zocor and the nonstatin Zetia—wasn't any better than the same dose of Zocor alone at keeping fatty plaque from building up in the arteries of the neck.
Exercise May Help Ward Off Dementia
A new study found that a home-based exercise program led to modest improvements in cognitive function in adults with memory difficulties. Researchers randomly assigned 138 people age 50 and older who were at increased risk for dementia to either a 24-week physical activity program or standard care. Those in the physical activity group were encouraged to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week in three 50-minute sessions. The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those in the exercise group did better on the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (which includes a variety of cognitive tests) and lower Clinical Dementia Rating scores than those in the usual care group.
In March, U.S. News offered tips on how to reduce a bulging stomach, after a study found that belly fat was linked to dementia risk. In December, Sarah Baldauf described just how damaging belly fat can be.
HPV Vaccine and Allergic Reactions
In an Australian study of females ages 12 to 26, the Gardasil vaccine caused a higher rate of allergic reactions, such as nausea, rashes, and difficulty breathing, than do other vaccines given at younger ages. Gardasil is intended to protect against the HPV virus, which can lead to cervical cancer. Though the overall risk is quite small—far less than 1 percent—doctors should still be on guard for these warning signs, the study researchers say, because they can become life threatening if not treated. The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Teens: Learn More Without Studying More
With the new school year starting, U.S. News's Nancy Shute quizzed neuroscientist Wilkie "Bill" Wilson on how teens can learn more without having to study more. Wilson is the director of DukeLEARN, a Duke University project to teach teenagers the practical applications of neuroscience. DukeLEARN's curriculum for ninth graders won't be in the schools until 2009. Among his tips: Eat right, sleep well, and start studying for tests early.
In August, Shute offered a note to teens: Do hard things.
—January W. Payne