WOMEN'S HEALTH WATCH
Common Depression MedsApproved for PPD
A new study finds that 2 popular antidepressants, nortriptylineand sertraline, are also safe for use in the treatmentof postpartum depression (PPD). A study of 109 women conductedby the University of Pittsburgh showed both drugshad similar efficacy in alleviating the symptoms of PPD. Bothmedicines were alike in their effect on psychosocial functioningand the treatment of aggressive obsessional thoughts,common afflictions of patients with PPD. Researchers statedthey wanted to show that "drugs that work for a woman withdepression under usual circumstances will work for a womanwho experiences depression after giving birth." The results ofthe study were published in the August 2006 issue of theJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
Group Helps Breast Cancer PatientsPay for Care
The HealthWell Foundation, a nonprofit organization thathelps patients with the costs of their prescription medicationsfor specific illnesses, has announced that they have addedbreast cancer to the list of ailments they can help patients payfor. The program is designed to offer uninsured or underinsuredpatients financial help for their prescription copayments andother out-of-pocket treatment-related expenditures. TheFoundation takes into account a patient's financial, medical,and insurance situations when determining assistance eligibility.There are no restrictions on providers, pharmacies, or FDA-approvedmedications that are covered by the group. For moreinformation, patients can visit the group's Web site atwww.healthwellfoundation.org or call 800-675-8416.
More Drugs to Fight Cervical Cancer on the Horizon
More medicines are lining up in thebattle against cervical cancer. Gardasil(quadrivalent human papillomavirus[HPV] [types 6, 11, 16, 18] recombinantvaccine) (Merck) has already beenapproved by the FDA for the preventionof cervical cancers in certain age groups.Now, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announcedthat its vaccine, Cervarix, isshowing effectiveness similar to that ofGardasil in the estimated prevention ofup to 70% of all US cases of cervical cancerand deaths (if all 12-year-old girlswere vaccinated). The company presentedthis data at the American Society forMicrobiology's 46th Annual InterscienceConference on Antimicrobial Agents andChemotherapy in September, and GSKwas expected to file for FDA approval bythe end of 2006.
Another antiviral drug that is showingpromise against cervical cancer is currentlybeing used to treat HIV. Researchersat the University of Manchesterin the United Kingdom found that lopinavirattacks HPV—the virus that causes cervicalcancer—and are working to developthe oral medicine into a cream or suppositoryto apply directly to the cervix ofpatients who are diagnosed with the virusand early warning signs of tumors. Currentvaccines under development only work inpatients who have not yet contracted thevirus. Their findings were published in volume11, issue 6 of Antiviral Therapy, a journalof the International Medical Press.
Obese Women at Greater Risk of PCOS
A study by researchers at the Departments of Endocrinology,Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain, showedthat overweight and obese women are 5 times more likely tohave polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) than their leaner counterparts.More than half of women with PCOS are obese, butthe actual incidence of the disease in heavier women was notrecently known, according to researchers.
The study of 113 overweight or obese women showed that28.3% had PCOS, compared with only 6.5% of women in general,and 5.5% of leaner women. Women who took part in thestudy who had PCOS also tended to be younger and were morelikely to have concurrent insulin resistance. The authors suggestthat regular PCOS screenings in these patients can helpreduce "the health burden distinctly associated with this prevalentdisorder." The findings were published in the October 23,2006, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Breast-feeding Has No Link to Baby's Intelligence
According to the results of research from Britain's MedicalResearch Council (BMRC),"breast-feeding has little or no effect onintelligence in children." The researchers found that, althoughbreast-feeding does have many other advantages for children—including reducing the risks of infections, respiratory illnesses, anddiarrhea—it does nothing in itself to enhance their brainpower.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, studieddata on 5475 children and 3161 mothers in the UnitedStates. They found that "in studies that factor in the mother's IQ[intelligence quotient], there isn't much difference betweenbreast-fed and non-breast-fed babies," stated study leaderGeoff Der of the BMRC.
They learned that the key to understanding a child's IQ wasthe intelligence of the mother—the mothers who breast-fedtended to be more intelligent and better educated and provideda more stimulating environment at home. The report was postedon-line by the British Medical Journal and appears in theNovember 2006 edition.