Niacin trial stopped early: Now what?

A clinical trial of niacin in combination with a statin to lower cholesterol was stopped early because of concerns that the combined medication could be associated with an increased risk of stroke. The editors of the Health Letter will wait until the complete results are published in a peer-reviewed journal before weighing in fully on the AIM-HIGH trial and high doses of niacin. But there's no reason to get panicky about niacin — or Niaspan, for that matter. The FDA issued a statement the same day the end of the trial was announced that emphasized that its recommendations for extended-release niacin weren't changing. The agency's statement noted that nine of the 28 strokes in the Niaspan group occurred well after people stopped taking the prescription niacin. (Locked) More »

Preventing cancer: Are we getting closer?

A drug now used in breast cancer treatment may have the potential to prevent the disease in some women. Exemestane is in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors, which women take for several years after they've been treated for breast cancer to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer again. Aromatase is an enzyme that's crucial to the production of the hormone estrogen, which in many cases fuels the development and growth of breast cancer. So by inhibiting aromatase, exemestane lowers estrogen levels and therefore the risk of breast cancer recurrence. (Locked) More »

With rising, a fall in blood pressure

With age, the heart and blood vessels weaken, leading to lower blood pressure when standing up, a condition known as orthostatic hypotension. Insufficient blood to the brain can cause dizziness and blurred vision, and an increased risk of falls. But there are often simple ways to counter the problem. Here are eight things you can do to counter orthostatic hypotension: (Locked) More »

Happy - and healthy - trails to you

It's summer, a prime time for getting away. But even a minor health problem can spoil a vacation. And a major one — well, that can cause regret about ever leaving home. To get some practical, health-related vacation tips, we contacted several well-traveled members of the Health Letter editorial board and consulted a few other sources. Here are just a few suggestions: More »

Moderate drinking - and how to keep it that way

Moderate alcohol consumption offers some clear health benefits, but it is important not to slip from moderation into riskier drinking. The Rethinking Drinking Web site has some tips for reducing alcohol intake. Here are some of them: (Locked) More »