Wednesday, October 13, 2010

HRT 'raises risk of kidney stones by 20 per cent'

This is juvenile rubbish. It is data dredging pure and simple. In a large correlation matrix, statistically significant effects will emerge by chance alone. And that's how this finding emerged: unexpectedly. This time it was kidney stones. Next it will be something else. And the size of the effect is in any case too small to permit causal inferences

Women who take hormone replacement pills for the menopause are far more likely to develop painful kidney stones, according to scientists.

Researchers from the University of Texas, studied 24,000 postmenopausal women over five years. They found those who took hormones had a 21 per cent higher risk of getting kidney stones compared to those who took a dummy pill. The risks were similar for women taking Prempro, pills containing estrogen plus progestin - or Premarin, estrogen-only pills.

Recent data suggest that overall, about six per cent of postmenopausal women develop kidney stones.

The kidneys remove waste products from the blood and transfer them into the ureter. Occasionally this waste can form into crystals that collect together into stone-like lumps. They can grow to the size of golf balls and cause severe pain. If the stones block the urinary system they can cause infection and kidney damage. Large stones are sometimes treated with noninvasive shock wave therapy or surgery.

Study leader Dr Naim Maalouf said women considering HRT to ease hot flushes and other symptoms such as mood swings should 'look at the bigger picture,' weighing those benefits against the risks for kidney stones. He added that HRT has also been linked with far more serious health problems such as breast cancer and heart attacks.

The U.S government recommends that hormone replacement pills only be used to relieve menopause symptoms, in low doses for the shortest possible time.

Victoria Davis, a spokeswoman for Pfizer Inc - which took over Premarin and Prempro maker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals last year - noted that the government research was not designed to examine kidney stone risk.

The studies analysed by the researchers were designed to examine hormones' effects on various ailments, but not specifically kidney stones. However, women were asked periodically if they'd been diagnosed with kidney stones during the multi-year studies.

The latest study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


Botox helps with migraines!

Left bed-bound by up to 20 migraines a month, 12-year-old Harvey Jacobs has found an unlikely cure – Botox.

His mother Sue, 39, heard claims that the wrinkle treatment could put an end to the crippling headaches and arranged for her son to have the procedure eight weeks ago. For the first time in years he has not had a single migraine in weeks and is like a ‘new boy’, she said.

The mother of three added: ‘The difference is amazing. We were absolutely desperate. He used to have about three days a week off school and this term he has had no time off at all. We have even managed to take days out as a family. It is wonderful.’

Harvey, who also suffers from mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy, was first struck down by agonising migraines six years ago. At times he would be incapacitated five times in a week and be in such agony he would be screaming for 24 hours.

The Botox treatment works by relaxing the corrugator muscle – the small ‘frown’ muscle around the eyebrow – which can cause migraines by affecting the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensation in the face.

Harvey was booked into a private clinic where he was given an injection above his right eye. The £350 treatment lasts around two months.

Migraines affect one in seven people and cost the British economy billions each year.


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