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Research indicates a combination therapy of hormone replacement and the bisphosphonate alendronate (Foxamax) may benefit older women with osteoporosis. The studies show the treatment can improve bone mass in women with the bone-thinning condition without serious side effects. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicate the treatment is well tolerated by this group. "After three years of treatment, these women showed significantly greater increases in bone mass than we saw in similar women taking only one of the therapies," said lead author Dr. Susan Greenspan, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Center. "Combination therapy is a safe, viable option for postmenopausal women who have been unable to improve their bone density with an individual therapy, or in women with osteoporosis severe enough to require a greater increase in bone density." Earlier research suggested similar results with younger women, but until now few data were available on the effectiveness and safety of combination therapy in older, post-menopausal women.


University of Illinois, Chicago, researchers have found compounds present in tea may stop the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath. The chemicals, called polyphenols, can prevent the bacteria from growing and from producing compounds with offensive smells, the scientists said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C. Christine Wu, professor of periodontics and associate dean for research at the College of Dentistry, notes bad breath affects a large segment of the population. It is caused by foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds, like hydrogen sulfide, produced by anaerobic bacteria that thrive in environments lacking oxygen, such as the back of the tongue and deep gum pockets. The team incubated tea polyphenols with three species of bacteria associated with bad breath for 48 hours. At concentrations ranging from 16 to 250 micrograms per milliliter, the polyphenols inhibited bacterial growth. At lower concentrations -- from 2.5 to 25 micrograms per milliliter -- the chemicals hindered the formation of hydrogen sulfide, cutting its production by 30 percent. The scientists say their study complements earlier research that showed black tea can suppress the growth of bacteria in dental plaque and that rinsing with black tea can help reduce plaque formation and the production of acids that cause tooth decay.


Synthetic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may help reduce agitation and stimulate appetite in patients with Alzheimer's disease, scientists say. Patients in the pilot study who were treated with dronabinol, a man-made version of THC, improved their mental and physical performance and gained weight, the researchers said at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Baltimore. The doctors pointed out patients with the degenerative neurological disorder that causes dementia often suffer severe weight loss from anorexia, decreasing their survival rates. "Our trial, although preliminary, suggests dronabinol may reduce agitation and improve appetite in patients with Alzheimer's disease, when traditional therapies are not successful," said lead investigator Dr. Joshua Shua-Haim, medical director of the Meridian Institute for Aging in New Jersey. "In the study, dronabinol appeared to be safe and effective for these patients."


Scientists found smoking rates among people with asthma surpass the national average, pointing to the need for smoking cessation programs targeting this group. The study, reported in the journal Chest, found 35 percent of asthmatics were smokers, compared to 24 percent of American adults on the whole. Of those treated in the hospital for asthma-related problems, 23 percent were former smokers and only 5 percent thought smoking had anything to do with their asthma complications. The researchers conclude doctors must address this problem and educate asthmatic smokers about the harmful effects as well as promote cessation programs. Smoking is harmful to your health, especially if you suffer from asthma, the doctors warned.

(EDITORS: For more information about OSTEOPOROSIS, contact Frank Raczkiewicz at 412-624-2607 or; about TEA, contact Sharon Butler at 312-355-2522 or; about POT, contact Michael Valentino at 732-751-7538 or; about ASTHMA, contact Danette Rapp at 202-955-6222, ext. 2531 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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