A SHOT OF RELIEF A new study has found that corticosteroids may help relieve pain caused by the common runners' injury known as iliotibial band friction syndrome (IBFS).

The iliotibial band is a thick stretch of connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh. IBFS occurs when repetitive motion leads to inflammation and pain in the outside of the knee.

In the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 18 runners who had recently developed IBFS-like knee pain received either a corticosteroid injection or a placebo shot containing no active drug. All the patients were told to regularly ice their knees and to refrain from running for two weeks.

Treadmill running tests two weeks later showed that the corticosteroid group's pain had waned, and that they were doing better than runners in the placebo group.

According to the researchers, the findings show short-term benefits of a steroid injection, but the long-term value of the treatment remains unclear. And, they write, "identification and correction of the underlying cause must form part of management."

LUNATIC RESEARCH Hard to say whether this is good news or bad news: A new study shows that, contrary to popular belief, a full moon does not cause epileptic seizures. But non-epileptic seizures do appear more common during a full moon.

Researchers from the University of South Florida in Tampa reviewed the occurrence of seizures at their epilepsy-monitoring unit during a three-year period. They calculated the number and type of seizures during the four phases of the moon, according to the report in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior.

Overall, seizures occurred with similar frequency during each moon phase. But non-epileptic seizures were more common during a full moon phase, whereas epileptic seizures were most common during the last quarter.

SPEAKING OF GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS Last week's annual national cancer report shows that today, 99.3 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will live five years, up from 70 percent in the 1970s. Five-year survival for breast cancer is 88 percent, up from 75 percent in 1970s.

But survival is strongly connected to how early cancer is caught, stressed a co-author of the report.

Then there's the racial gap. Black men are 26 percent more likely to die of a malignancy than white men; Hispanic men are 16 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites. Black women are 52 percent more likely to die of cancer than white women, and Hispanic women 20 percent more likely.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports