ODDITY OF THE WEEK The male hormones that can produce acne during adolescence may protect against heart disease in adulthood, British researchers report. But the hormones, androgens, were associated with an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer, the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests.

About 10,000 men were tracked over 20 years. About 18 percent had teen acne; this group was 33 percent less likely to die of heart disease than the clear-skinned, but 67 percent more likely to die of prostate cancer. Androgens have previously been linked to heart disease in some studies. Little is known about the prostate cancer link.

Researchers emphasize that these observations show a link between hormones and the conditions, but do not establish cause and effect.

OTHER ODDITY OF THE WEEK A short course of the abortion drug RU486 can lead to significant improvement in patients with major depressive episodes with psychotic features, a small clinical trial suggests.

Because of extreme danger of self-harm, people with psychotic depression often are hospitalized and given electroshock therapy.

Previous studies have indicated that the drug, mifepristone, may have rapid antidepressant effects in these circumstances, but results were clouded by patients' taking other drugs simultaneously. This study, while involving only 20 patients, used only those taking no other medications. Significant improvements in depression were seen after one week and up to four weeks, but not thereafter. The report appears in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

-- From News Services