Lorenzo's Oil Shows

Preventive Benefits

"Lorenzo's oil," a treatment popularized in a 1992 movie starring Nick Nolte, appears to lower the risk that children with a genetic defect will go on to develop symptoms of a neurological disease known as adrenoleukodystrophy, a new study has found.

The treatment, which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, attempts to change the way children with the genetic defect make certain types of fat. Symptoms of the disease include a loss of the ability to speak, reduced strength and coordination, and eventually complete breakdown of bodily function and death.

Lorenzo's oil, developed by the father of a child with the disorder based on his reading of research papers, is not a cure, but its adherents believe it is a way to keep the disease at bay.

The new study followed 89 children who had the genetic defect that causes the disease but were not yet symptomatic. Treatment was combined with a rigorous diet. Ethical guidelines kept researchers from comparing the effects of their treatment against a placebo -- the best technique to measure a treatment's effectiveness. The researchers acknowledged that it was unclear how long the effects of the oil lasted.

"This clinical study clearly demonstrates that the use of Lorenzo's Oil can prevent the onset of the rapidly progressive and devastating form of the brain disease that affects 50 percent of boys" who are genetically predisposed to get the disorder, Hugo Moser of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore said in a paper published in the Archives of Neurology.

Study Compares Heart

Surgery in U.S., Canada

Hospital costs for the most common kind of heart surgery are more than 80 percent higher in the United States than in Canada because of overhead, labor and other factors, but there is no difference in death rates from the procedure, doctors at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal reported yesterday.

The doctors reviewed coronary artery bypass surgeries involving 4,698 U.S. and 7,319 Canadian patients.

Median hospital costs were $16,036 in the United States compared with $7,880 in Canada, said the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Both figures are in U.S. dollars.

While Canadian patients stayed in the hospital an average of more than 16 percent longer, the report said, "there was no difference in in-hospital mortality; and the cost in the United States was 82.5 percent higher than in Canada."

Cobblestone Therapy

Lowers Blood Pressure

The path to better health and lower blood pressure may be paved with cobblestones.

When people older than 60 walked on smooth, rounded cobblestones for a half-hour a day over four months, they significantly lowered their blood pressure and improved their balance, a study showed.

Investigators from the Oregon Research Institute studied the health effects of cobblestones after observing people exercising and walking back and forth over traditional stone paths in China.

The results surprised the researchers, who expected to see some general improvement in health but also saw blood pressure drop measurably among the volunteers during the 16-week study.

They were compared with a control group who simply walked for an hour, three times a week. The results appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

-- From News Services