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Sep 08, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- NEW BIRTH CONTROL PILL APPROVED

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a birth control pill that cuts the menstrual cycle from 13 to four periods a year. Barr Laboratories Inc., maker of the extended-cycle oral contraceptive called Seasonale, says the tablets were shown in studies to be safe and effective in preventing pregnancy. Side effects included upper respiratory infections, headache and intermenstrual bleeding or spotting. The contraceptive follows a 91-day cycle, compared to the usual 28-day regimen used by current oral birth control pills. Women using Seasonale will be taking more hormones than those on traditional birth control pills, posing an additional potential risk of blood disorders known as thrombotic and thromboembolic disease, the drug maker cautioned. Birth control pills carry the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack, which increases in women who smoke, especially those over 35. Seasonale will be available by prescription by the end of October.


University of Arizona researchers have found weight-bearing and resistance exercise and calcium citrate supplements can prevent osteoporosis. Their study showed the combination is effective in improving bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. The treatment benefits women who take hormone replacement therapy and those who do not, the scientists said in the journal Osteoporosis International. "The good news is that this study has identified a powerful combination of improved nutrition and increased physical activity that prevents bone loss," said Timothy Lohman, professor of physiology and principal study investigator.


Doctors have found a form of touch therapy can ease stress and help fight fatigue that often follows radiation treatment. Sara Matteson of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester says the technique, called polarity therapy, is similar to acupuncture. However, instead of fine needles, a polarity practitioner uses hands and a light touch to relieve tension and restore energy. "People really seem to like it because it's so relaxing," says Matteson, an investigator of traditional and alternative therapies. "The goal of our office is to find methods of reducing the distressing side effects of cancer treatment, and we hope this will be one method of doing so."


October is Lupus Awareness Month, a good time for women to learn more about the potentially fatal disease that strikes mostly during youth. The Alliance for Lupus Research says symptoms include extreme fatigue, joint pain, sun-sensitivity or a rash. "Part of the Alliance for Lupus Research's charge is to help build awareness about this disease," said Barbara Boyts, president of ALR. "With greater awareness among physicians and patients, we are beginning to see improved diagnoses and care and anticipate continued advances into the future."

(Editors: For more information about CONTRACEPTIVE, contact Carol Cox at 201-930-3720 or For BONE, Jean Spinelli at 520-930-3720. For TOUCH, Sara Matteson at 585-275-2788. For LUPUS, Linda De Vito at 212-966-9000 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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