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Posted - Mar. 1, 2004 at 7:20 a.m.



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Mar 01, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A small pilot study suggests women on hormone replacement therapy may run the risk of diminished hearing. Depending on the measure, HRT recipients on average performed from 10 percent to 30 percent worse on hearing tests than women who had not received the treatment, says Robert Frisina, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. Frisina told the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Daytona, Fla., he and his team conducted three tests comparing the hearing of 32 women, between the ages of 60 and 86, who had hormone therapy to that of 32 women who had not. The HRT group performed more poorly across the board, especially in complex circumstances, such as deciphering a sentence spoken at a noisy cocktail party. "It's important to alert women that there could be another significant side effect of hormone replacement therapy (which has been implicated in increased risk of breast cancer)," Frisina says. A larger study is needed to corroborate the findings, he cautioned.

DRINKING FLUIDS MAY NOT HELP

Doctors should be cautious about advising patients with respiratory infections to drink plenty of fluids, researchers caution. The researchers, reporting in the British Medical Journal, cite evidence during a respiratory infection, such as a cold or bronchitis, the body releases large amounts of a water-conserving antidiruretic hormone. Drinking extra fluids while the antidiruretic hormone secretion is high may theoretically lead to salt loss and fluid overload. "We should be cautious about universally recommending increased fluids to patients, especially those with infections of the lower respiratory tract," the authors conclude.

FOLIC ACID REDUCES SOME BIRTH DEFECTS

The introduction of folic acid fortification of breads and grains in the United States has decreased the incidence of neural tube defects. Scientists report in the Journal Obstetrics and Gynecology they discovered a 32 percent drop in the rate of pregnant women at high risk of NTDs and a 20 percent decline in infants born with NTDs since folic acid fortification was implemented in the United States in 1998. Medical experts have known for more than 30 years that folic acid deficiency among pregnant women is associated with NTDs, including spina bifida and anencephaly.

DRUGS BLOCK TRANSPLANT COMPLICATION

A study shows a new class of anti-cancer drugs can block the effects of a complication of transplants called graft versus host disease. The authors note in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the disease is a common and often deadly complication of life-saving bone marrow transplants. Between 500 and 1,000 Americans die from the complication every year, and more spend weeks in intensive care when immune system cells from the donor bone marrow attack the patient's skin, liver and gastrointestinal tract. The scientists from the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center showed the drugs, called HDAC inhibitors, which are being tested in clinical trials, can block the effects of GVHD after bone marrow transplants without suppressing the immune response needed to kill lingering cancer cells.

(Editors: For more information about HEARING, contact Tom Rickey at (585) 275-7954. For COLD, Emma Dickinson at +44 (0)20 7383 6529 or edickinson@bmj.com. For FOLIC, Amanda Hall at (202) 484-3321 or communications@acog.org. For TRANSPLANT, Sally Pobojewski at (734) 615-6912 or pobo@umich.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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