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Jan 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- DO CLINICAL CANCER TRIALS HELP?

A new study casts doubt over the view that participating in a cancer trial will give you a better chance of fighting off the disease. Some oncologists have contended study subjects testing experimental treatments gain health benefits that non-participants do not have. This is known as a "trial effect." Research published in the journal Lancet disputes that claim. In the new study, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and their colleagues report a review of more than two dozen published cancer studies, comparing outcomes among trial and non-trial patients, found little convincing evidence such a trial effect exists. They caution that more research is needed to determine whether there is a predictable benefit from trial participation. "Clinical trials are critical to the advancement of cancer care, but it is important that people who enroll in a study understand that their participation is intended primarily to benefit future patients," says first author Dr. Jeffrey Peppercorn, clinical fellow at Dana-Farber.


Research suggests use of antibiotics in food animals does not threaten human health. The report, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, indicates banning antibiotics in food animals may, in fact, do more harm than good. The authors claim that contrary to previously stated concerns, there is little or no scientific evidence to suggest the use of antibiotics in food animals has a negative impact on health by making humans resistant to antibiotics. "The scientific evidence shows that the actual risk of transfer of antibiotic resistant organisms from animals to humans caused by the use of antibiotics in food animals is extremely small and in some cases zero," says principal study author Dr. Ian Phillips, Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology at the medical school of Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals at the University of London. The authors contend a European ban on antibiotics to promote growth has not reduced antibiotic resistance levels in Europeans. They say U.S. data show the incidence of antibiotic resistant food-borne pathogens is generally declining, as has the number of cases caused by food-borne bacteria.


Researchers report there is no scientific evidence that silicone breast implants increase the risk of developing brain cancer. The study, published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, contains data from four long-term reviews of brain cancer risk following cosmetic breast augmentation surgery in nearly 10,500 women over up to 29 years. "Our results, based on the highest-quality incidence data, rule out any increase in brain cancer risk after breast implant surgery," say Joseph McLaughlin and Loren Lipworth of the International Epidemiology Institute. Just 12 of the women developed brain cancer, compared to the expected 9.6, based on population statistics. The findings contradict a 2001 study suggesting women with breast implants are at more than double the risk of death from brain cancer. The authors of the new study say the previous research was flawed.


The American Academy of Periodontology reports the pill Periostat (doxycycline hyclate) appears effective against gum disease. The condition, formally called periodontitis, affects nearly 30 percent of American adults. It can require surgery or even lead to tooth loss if not treated. The therapy is based on research showing tissue destruction, the hallmark of periodontal disease, actually is caused by enzymes produced by the "host" in response to the presence of bacteria. Researchers tested a number of therapies that address this problem. Their report, published in Annals of Periodontology, says Periostat, used with the conventional therapy of "scaling" and "root planning," was effective in subduing chronic periodontitis. Periostat is marketed by CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Scientists say its novel enzyme suppression technology may also be applicable to other diseases involving inflammation and destruction of the body's connective tissues.

(Editors: For more information about CANCER, contact Bill Schaller at (617) 632-4090. For ANTIBIOTICS, Melissa Anagnosti at (212) 614-4635. For BRAIN, Lisa Minick at (410) 528-4007 or For GUM, Karen Dombek at (908) 234-9900)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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