Health Buzz: FDA Panel Says Crestor Benefits People With Normal Cholesterol

Combating symptoms of menopause using hormones; dietary changes to make as you age

Video: Cholesterol: The Good and the Bad

FDA Panel: Crestor Benefits People With Normal Cholesterol

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted to recommend Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, for use in people without high cholesterol, the Associated Press reports. If the FDA follows its recommendation, drug maker AstraZeneca may broaden its market to include seemingly healthy patients—specifically, those with elevated levels of C-reactive protein, according to the AP. Higher-than-average amounts of CRP indicate inflammation, which may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Crestor can also lower levels of CRP.

[Read Which Statin Is Right for Me? and 10 Ways to Lower LDL and Raise HDL.]

How to Safely Combat Menopause Symptoms With Hormone Therapy

For three years, Susan Kirchoff tried all the usual remedies to manage her menopausal hot flashes: exercise, soy foods, herbal supplements. But she still woke up with her nightgown sopping night after night. Exhausted and desperate, she talked to her doctor about hormone therapy and her own personal risks: a family history of breast cancer and an elevated platelet blood count, which put her at increased risk of blood clots and stroke. In October, when blood tests revealed a normal platelet count, she decided, "I needed relief." Within a few weeks of affixing a dime-size estrogen patch onto her abdomen, Kirchoff's hot flashes ceased, U.S. News contributor Kerry Hannon writes.

Women like Kirchoff have been frightened away from hormone therapy ever since a large clinical trial called the Women's Health Initiative found seven years ago that the treatments raised the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Prescriptions for estrogen and progesterone quickly dropped (breast cancer rates did too, partly because of this). Today, doctors no longer prescribe hormones as they once did to prevent osteoporosis, clogged arteries, and dementia.

Many experts, however, contend that the pendulum has swung too far, leaving women without any effective remedy for severe menopausal symptoms. So now, after trying unhappily to go without, many of the 40 percent of menopausal women who suffer from severe hot flashes and night sweats are turning to a new way of using hormones—an ultralow dose for as short a time as possible. Read more.

[Read 10 Ways to Ease Menopause Symptoms and The HRT Dilemma.]

We Will Be What We Eat: Dietary Changes to Make as You Age

If your mental image of an older person is someone frail and thin, it may be time for an update. For the generation currently moving through middle age and beyond, a new concern is obesity. Government figures show that Americans in their 60s today are about 10 pounds heavier than their counterparts of just a decade ago, U.S. News contributor Meryl Davids Landau writes.

If you're entering that danger zone now, be aware that it's not going to get any easier to lose weight, because people need fewer calories as they age. Blame slowing metabolism and the body's tendency starting in midlife to lose muscle mass—a process known as sarcopenia—and gain fat, especially around the abdomen.

But paying attention to what you eat isn't only about controlling weight; the need for some vitamins and minerals increases with age. One is calcium, necessary to protect bones. Another is B12, since some older adults make less of the stomach acid required to absorb the vitamin. More vitamin D also is required. Read more.

[Read Does Early Bone Loss Mean You Need Drugs? and Lowering LDL Cholesterol Without Drugs.]

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