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High-Fat Diet Linked to Age-Related Eye Problem

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THE QUESTION: Past studies have shown that certain formulations of vitamins and minerals may retard the progression of age-related macular degeneration - a common disease in the elderly leading to blindness. Do dietary fats have any effect on the progression of AMD?

THIS STUDY involved 261 people, age 60 or older, with early or intermediate AMD in at least in one eye. After about five years, people with a high-fat diet were 2.9 times more likely to have developed advanced AMD than those with a low-fat diet. Vegetable fat was associated with greater risk than animal fat. A higher intake of fish and nuts, however, lowered the risk of advanced AMD.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People with signs of age- related macular degeneration such as blurred vision.

CAVEATS: The results are not based on a randomized trial. In addition, the participants' diets were self-reported.

BOTTOM LINE: People with signs of age-related macular degeneration may wish to consult their physician about the sources and amount of fat in their diet.

FIND THIS STUDY: December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology; abstract online at

LEARN MORE ABOUT the role of nutrition in macular degeneration at amd. nutrition and maculardegen/armd_facts.htm.

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Pregnancy and return of cancer

THE QUESTION: Because pregnancy produces increased levels of hormones and such increases are associated with breast cancer, doctors often advise women who have survived breast cancer to avoid becoming pregnant. However, little research has been conducted to determine the validity of this advice. Does pregnancy increase the rate of breast cancer recurrence?

THIS STUDY involved 370 breast cancer survivors age 35 or younger. Of the 47 women who became pregnant in the 13 years after receiving chemotherapy, 23 percent had a recurrence of breast cancer, compared with 54 percent of those who did not become pregnant. The researchers said the lower rate of recurrence among those who became pregnant may have been due in part to their having better overall prognoses. For example, they were more likely than the others to have had early-stage cancer initially, to have had fewer lymph nodes involved, and to have been younger when they were diagnosed.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Breast cancer survivors who may wish to become pregnant.

CAVEATS: The results are not based on a randomized trial. The results need to be verified in more women.

BOTTOM LINE Breast cancer survivors planning to become pregnant may wish to consult their physician about their specific prognosis.

FIND THIS STUDY: Feb. 1 issue of Cancer; abstract online at

LEARN MORE ABOUT pregnancy and breast cancer at and

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New drug for cancer patients

THE QUESTION: Most people with metastatic colorectal cancer live barely more than a year after undergoing chemotherapy. Does the recently approved chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) increase survival compared with irinotecan (Camptosar), which is often used in combination with other drugs?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 795 patients with advanced colorectal cancer to receive drug combinations that included oxaliplatin, irinotecan, or both. People in the oxaliplatin group lived about 19.5 months, compared with 15 months for those in the irinotecan group and 17.4 months for those who received both drugs. Those in the oxaliplatin group also had fewer serious chemotherapy- related side effects such as infections, diarrhea, and severe hair loss.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? People with advanced colorectal cancer.

CAVEATS: Pharmacia and Sanofi-Synthelabo, the manufacturers of irinotecan and oxaliplatin, partially funded the study.

BOTTOM LINE: People with advanced colorectal cancer may wish to consult their physician about oxaliplatin.

FIND THIS STUDY: Dec. 9 issue of the early-release articles of the Journal of Clinical Oncology; abstract online at early_release.

LEARN MORE ABOUT treatments for advanced colorectal cancer at www.fda. gov/cder/drug/infopage/eloxatin/eloxatinqa.htm and

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(C) 2003 The Record, Bergen County, NJ. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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