ARTHRITIS:Glucosamine and chondroitin work

Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular remedies for osteoarthritis – but do they actually work?

In a meta-analysis of 15 studies involving 1775 patients, both remedies seemed to work well on one in five patients, or 20 per cent of cases (Arch Intern Med, 2003; 163: 1514-2).

ANTIDEPRESSANTS They don’t work, but don’t tell
GlaxoSmithKline, the UK’s largest drug company, delayed publishing data concerning the lack of effectiveness of its antidepressant on children for several years.

Two major clinical trials tested Seroxat (paroxetine) on children and adolescents with major depression, and found that the drug was no more effective than a placebo. The company was also aware that the drug brought on suicidal tendencies, especially among the young (The Guardian, 3 February 2004; JAMA, 2003; 290: 1033-41).

X-RAYS CAUSE CANCER But then, haven’t they always?
Every year, X-rays cause 700 cases of cancer in the UK, around 5700 in the US, and a total of 18,500 cases overall in 15 developed countries, according to a new study.

Cancer risks per cumulative exposure to X-rays range from just 0.6 per cent in Poland and the UK, up to a high of 3.2 per cent in Japan. In the US, the cancer risk is 0.9 per cent (Lancet, 2004; 363: 345-51).

BREAST CANCER? Look to antibiotics . . .
Frequent antibiotic use may more than treble a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, a US study has found.

Researchers in Seattle studied more than 10,000 women and found that those taking more than 25 prescriptions for antibiotics or those taking them for about a year and a half were most at risk, and the risk rose depending on the frequency of use (JAMA, 2004; 291: 827-35).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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