Hormone Treatment

May Aid Prostate Cancer

Men with prostate cancer that does not appear to have spread have better chances of survival when they receive short-term hormone treatment with standard radiation, rather than radiation alone, a small study found.

Almost five years after treatment, six men in the radiation-only study group died of prostate cancer; none of the men who received combined treatment died of the cancer. The study, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 206 men.

Of the more than 200,000 U.S. men in whom the disease is diagnosed each year, nearly half have the kind of cancer involved in the study: An exam and imaging indicate it has not spread, but other tests indicate it may have.

Treatment for such men often involves radiation alone or radiation combined with long-term use of hormone-fighting drugs, often for three years or more. But long-term drug use may cause thinning of the bones, heart abnormalities that can lead to sudden death and impaired mental function.

The study, conducted by researchers from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found that using hormone-blocking drugs for six months had the same survival benefits as long-term use but without the potential health risks.

"It's a very important and useful study and should have nearly immediate impact on the fashion in which men are treated," said Durado Brooks, director of prostate cancer programs at the American Cancer Society.

Vitamin E Found to Help

Seniors Ward Off Colds

Vitamin E supplements ward off colds in the elderly and may help some seniors avoid upper respiratory tract infections that can prove deadly, researchers said yesterday.

In a study of 617 nursing home patients 65 or older, those who took a vitamin E supplement daily had significantly fewer common colds and had a 20 percent overall lower risk of acquiring a cold, compared with participants given a placebo.

More patients taking the vitamin avoided upper respiratory tract infections than in the placebo group during the one-year study. However, the vitamin did not reduce lower respiratory tract infections.

Respiratory illnesses in the elderly can be debilitating and even fatal, study author Simin Nikbin Meydani of Tufts University in Boston wrote in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Meydani's group has previously shown that vitamin E supplementation improves measures of immune response. The current study shows an impact on actual disease incidence," Annette Dickinson, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said in a statement.

-- From News Services