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What clinical trials can do for you

January 1, 2017

Participating in a medical study may benefit your health and perhaps that of millions of others.

clinical trials
 Image: grandaded/Thinkstock

If you've ever considered donating your body to science—or granting science a temporary loan—now's the time to do it. Researchers are always recruiting patients for studies of new treatments and preventive strategies for diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to zoster (shingles). In the simplest terms, these studies compare existing approaches to newer ones in similar groups of people and determine which is more effective.

"Clinical trials are the vehicle by which we transfer things that we think into things that we know or don't know," says Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine.

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