Thalidomide, once a pariah drug, finds a new life in cancer therapy

The drug thalidomide, which was banned in the United States after it caused serious birth defects in 10,000 babies worldwide four decades ago, can produce dramatic improvements in people with a cancer of the bone marrow, according to a study being published today.The study is a “significant advance” in treatment for myeloma, Dr. Kenneth Anderson, a myeloma specialist at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said yesterday.   Myeloma, a cancer that arises in the bone marrow and that crowds out normal tissue so that the marrow can no longer make healthy blood cells, is diagnosed in almost 14,000 Americans a year. It is “notoriously difficult” to treat, Anderson said in an editorial accompanying the report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Typically, only 29 percent of people diagnosed with it survive for five years, despite treatment.

Here’s to your health: the benefits of drinking outweigh the risks, but only within limits

On Thursday, the French will go nuts.

We know this because they go nuts every year on the third Thursday of November, the day the latest crop of just-off-the-vine wines hit the market.

Wine-lovers will swarm to those cute little bistros, swell with Gallic pride, swill a glass of this fairly flimsy red stuff, and proclaim, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!”

Cutting-edge drugs a must in treating rare cancer

With any serious disease, it’s obviously a good idea to find the best doctor – and the best hospital – you can.

But with ovarian cancer, a rare disease that strikes 25,000 women a year, kills nearly 15,000, and is almost impossible to detect early – it’s absolutely essential.

Site has all the research that fits

In the elite world of medical research, Dr. Harold Varmus is at the top of the heap. He runs the government’s biggest health research engine, the National Institutes of Health, and won the 1989 Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on cancer genes.

Chocolate’s not so dark secret

I slip it reverentially into my mouth. Luscious, gooey, it melts on my taste buds, caresses my tongue. I stop talking, thinking, even breathing. I have but one sense: Taste. I have but one love: Chocolate.

Nanoseconds later, the guilt sets in. I imagine my arteries seizing, my weight soaring. Yet I am powerless: I want more.

Treatments improve, but hepatitis C still a threat

For decades, hepatitis C, a potentially fatal liver virus harbored by 3 million Americans, was a virtual black box.

Herbal prostate drug goes mainstream

The gradual enlargement of the prostate gland with age is “the most common benign disease of mankind,” says Dr. Kevin R. Loughlin, director of urologic research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

And while many men now try to treat it with herbal remedies, many still prefer the traditional therapies, for which there are considerably more data. Some combine both approaches.

Cell transplants, drugs tested for spinal injuries

The experiments creating the biggest buzz among spinal cord researchers are those involving fetal cell, stem cell or embryonic stem cell transplants. So far, most of the research is in animals, though some studies are beginning in people.

A glimmer of hope

Ten years ago scientists scoffed at the thought that a paralyzed person could walk again; today they’re counting on it.

Four years after being paralyzed from the neck down in a riding accident, Christopher Reeve is preparing to walk again, a feat long assumed to be impossible for any quadriplegic, even Superman.

Plaque can gum up the works in legs

Dr. Zdan Korduba, an anesthesiologist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, wound up having one toe amputated, losing months of work and feeling like a total chump for missing symptoms he’d have spotted right away in a patient.