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Posted - Jul. 7, 2003 at 8:20 a.m.



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Jul 07, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- STATINS CAN BENEFIT DIABETICS

Researchers say routine use of cholesterol-lowering statins can reduce the risk of heart disease significantly in people with diabetes. The scientists say in the journal The Lancet the drugs have been shown to decrease risk of cardiovascular disorders, even among people with normal cholesterol levels. Their effect on people with diabetes, however, had not been proven. These patients usually are not prescribed the therapy despite their increased risk of cardiovascular disease, doctors say. In the new study, Rory Collins and colleagues at the Clinical Trial Service Unit in Oxford surveyed 6,000 patients with diabetes and 14,500 non-diabetics with occlusive arterial disease. The patients in both groups who received 40 mg simvastatin daily suffered 25 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems than those given a placebo.

VITAMINS FAIL HEART TEST

Researchers say a series of studies indicate antioxidant vitamins do not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, supplements containing vitamin A compounds could actually prove harmful, they said. Some previous studies have suggested antioxidant vitamins could delay the progression of atherosclerosis, offering protection against heart disease. The scientists found no evidence of such a benefit in their analysis of seven trials of treatment with vitamin E and eight trials of treatment with beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. In view of the findings, the authors discourage use of vitamin supplements containing beta carotene and vitamin A.

EYES GETTING NON-LASER TREATMENT

Researchers report a surge in Baby Boomers using the fist approved non-laser vision correction procedure, called conductive keratoplasty. A survey by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons showed a third of ophthalmologists plan to offer the procedure approved last year. Some 12,000 CK procedures have been performed nationwide at an average cost of $1,500 per eye. Market Scope, an ophthalmic industry research firm in St, Louis, describes CK as one of the fastest adopted new technologies. The 3-minute, outpatient procedure provides an alternative to glasses for people whose aging eyes have trouble reading the newspaper or menu or seeing to drive at night. "The donning of glasses is a public declaration of your age," says Dr. Marguerite McDonald, professor of ophthalmology at Tulane University in New Orleans. "Millions struggle with glasses to accommodate for their deteriorating vision, and CK offers them a new and safe option for vision correction so they can be freed of the struggle, hassle and age-related stigma of glasses." The procedure uses radio waves, instead of a laser or scalpel, to correct vision without cutting or tissue removal. It is performed in an office with eye drop anesthesia.

WEEKEND BABIES SMALLER

Research indicates babies born on the weekends tend to be smaller and sicker than those born during the week. Researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford School of Medicine say the finding casts doubt over claims higher death rates for newborns arriving on the weekend are due to inadequacies in hospital staffing or experience. "We've found that weekends are not an inherently more dangerous time to be born," said senior author and neonatologist Dr. Jeffrey Gould. "Instead, the fact that there is a proportionally higher percentage of very tiny babies -- who are more likely to die -- born on weekends than during the week inflates the observed mortality." The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, should allay the fears of women with uncomplicated, full-term pregnancies who begin labor on the weekend, researchers say.

(Editors: For more information about STATINS, contact Margaret Willson at +44-1536-772181 in the U.K. or m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk. For VITAMINS, Alicia Sokol at 216-445-9661 or sokola@ccf.org. For VISION, Patty Tobin at 718-499-2237. For BIRTH, Krista Conger at 650-725-5371 or kirstac@stanford.edu)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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