HEALTH

Study: Potential therapeutic role for aspirin in inhibiting cancerous vestibular schwannoma growth

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital have demonstrated that aspirin intake correlates with halted growth of vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas, a sometimes lethal intracranial tumor that typically causes hearing loss and tinnitus.

Motivated by experiments in the Molecular Neurotology Laboratory at Mass. Eye and Ear involving human tumor specimens, the researchers performed a retrospective analysis of more than 600 people diagnosed with vestibular schwannoma at Mass. Eye and Ear. Their research suggests the potential therapeutic role of aspirin in inhibiting tumor growth and motivates a clinical prospective study to assess efficacy of this well-tolerated anti-inflammatory medication in preventing growth of these intracranial tumors.

"Currently, there are no FDA-approved drug therapies to treat these tumors, which are the most common tumors of the cerebellopontine angle and the fourth most common intracranial tumors," explained Konstantina Stankovic, Mass. Eye and Ear clinican-researcher and assistant professor of otology andlaryngology, Harvard Medical School, who led the study. "Current options for management of growing vestibular schwannomas include surgery — via craniotomy — or radiation therapy, both of which are associated with potentially serious complications."

The findings, which are described in the February issue of the journal Otology and Neurotology, were based on a retrospective series of 689 people, 347 of whom were followed with multiple magnetic resonance imaging MRI scans. The main outcome measures were patient use of aspirin and rate of vestibular schwannoma growth measured by changes in the largest tumor dimension as noted on serial MRIs. 

"Our results suggest a potential therapeutic role of aspirin in inhibiting vestibular schwannoma growth," Stankovic said.

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McNeil promotes OTC safety with new website

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — McNeil Consumer Healthcare on Thursday launched an enhanced consumer education website called GetReliefResponsibly.com to promote safety in using OTC medicines to help kick a cold. 

Each year, an estimated 7-in-10 Americans turn to OTC medicines to treat their cold and flu symptoms, McNeil reported. Many of these medicines contain acetaminophen, a common pain reliever/fever reducer that patients and consumers rely on to provide relief from cold and flu symptoms, such as headache, fever, sore throat and body pains. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and also can be found in more than 600 OTC and prescription medications, such as NyQuil, Theraflu, Percocet and Vicodin.

Particularly during cold-flu season, when consumers are seeking relief, they may reach for more than one medication to treat their symptoms. It is important that consumers are aware of the ingredients in their medications and that they read and follow their medicine labels to help prevent accidentally taking more than the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen, McNeil noted.   

"Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, but taking too much of it can harm your liver," stated Edwin Kuffner, VP medical affairs and clinical research at McNeil. "Some people may accidentally take more than the total daily dose of acetaminophen because they do not realize they are taking multiple products containing acetaminophen, or because they may not read and follow the label."

At the enhanced GetReliefResponsibly.com website, consumers can try out the new interactive medicine checker and see if the OTC or prescription medicines they are taking contain acetaminophen. The site features several videos about general acetaminophen safety, an illustrated guide on how to read medicine labels and proper acetaminophen dosage for adults and children. The site also features tips on how to keep medicines safely out of the reach of children and a companion diagram showing specific locations within the home to be extra cautious about — areas where medicines might commonly be left within the reach of children.

"Through our enhanced website and other education efforts, we want to help patients and consumers use our medicines safely and appropriately," Kuffner said. "The tools and information available on the site are easy to use, and can help families ensure they get relief safely this cold-flu season."

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Study: Omega-3 supplementation could preserve brain health

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — People with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also may have larger brain volumes in old age equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health, according to a study published in the Jan. 22 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 

Shrinking brain volume is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease as well as normal aging.

For the study, the levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA in red blood cells were tested in 1,111 women who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Eight years later, when the women were an average age of 78, MRI scans were taken to measure their brain volume.

Those with higher levels of omega-3s had larger total brain volumes eight years later. Those with twice as high levels of fatty acids (7.5% vs. 3.4%) had a 0.7% larger brain volume

"These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with aging by one to two years," stated study author James Pottala of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls and Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Richmond, Va.

 

 

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