HealthWise at 5 From 2.27 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/27/04

HealthWise at 5 From 2.27

  • Colon Cancer Drug

The FDA has approved a new treatment for advanced cases of colon cancer. The drug, which will be sold under the name Avastin, works by choking off the blood supply cancerous tumors need to grow. It's the first such drug that has proven to slow tumor growth and prolong survival rates in cancer patients. The benefits are modest but studies show when the drug is added to chemotherapy it can help extend survival by five months in patients with advanced colon cancer.

Avastin is manufactured by Genentech. Side effects were rare and included stomach problems, high blood pressure and wound healing problems. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the U.S. and, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention is the second leading cause of cancer-related death. Colorectal cancer is also one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.; approximately 147,500 new cases were diagnosed in 2003.

Avastin is manufactured by Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, Calif.

  • Accutane

There are renewed concerns over the number of women who get pregnant while taking an acne drug known to cause birth defects. According to the FDA, the number of pregnancies among women taking Accutane has only slightly declined despite increased education efforts by the drug maker Roche, warning people that Accutane has been linked to birth defects like heart, kidney and facial abnormalities. So, now, the FDA has asked the drug company to come up with even better ways to keep Accutane out of the hands of pregnant women.

Since 2002, the company has added steps like requiring a negative pregnancy test every month. The FDA says there is evidence some women were getting refills without taking a test. Accutane was approved in 1982 for the treatment of severe acne.

  • Fat Cells & Immune System

Though you don't want too much of a good thing, fat cells do play an important role in your immune system. Purdue University researchers are studying adipocytes and how they respond to infections. Researchers say when exposed to a bacterial toxin, the fat cells respond by releasing a hormone-like protein that assists communication between immune system cells and the body. Researchers say normal fat cell functions are disrupted when we gain too much weight, which increases our risk of disease.

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