ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
CANCER
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Main Ingredients in Household Dust Come From Outdoors
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
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Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo

A medicinal herb, milk thistle, appears to reduce liver damage resulting from chemotherapy, a new study finds.

Chemo drugs often cause liver inflammation, making it necessary to lower the dose or suspend treatment until the inflammation subsides. These interruptions in therapy can make treatment less effective, the researchers said.

"We found that milk thistle, compared to placebo, was more effective in reducing inflammation," said lead researcher Dr. Kara Kelly, from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York City.

"If these results are confirmed, milk thistle may allow us to treat liver inflammation or prevent it from occurring, which will allow better delivery of chemotherapy drugs," she added.

The report is published in the Dec. 14 online edition of Cancer.

Milk thistle, a longtime folk remedy, is often recommended to treat liver damage and mushroom poisoning. No other treatment for liver toxicity exists, Kelly said.

For the study, Kelly's team randomly assigned 50 children undergoing chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia to receive milk thistle or a placebo for 28 days. All the children had liver inflammation at the start of the study.

Twenty-eight days later, the children who had received milk thistle had improved liver enzymes, compared with the children who received a placebo, the researchers said.

The milk thistle group had significantly lower levels of one enzyme in particular, AST, and a trend towards lower levels of another enzyme called ALT, Kelly's group found.

In addition, milk thistle appeared to help patients tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy. Sixty-one percent of the children receiving milk thistle needed dose reductions, compared with 72 percent of the children receiving placebo, but this difference is not significant, the researchers noted.

Related lab experiments showed the herb did not lessen the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs, and Kelly thinks milk thistle might reduce liver inflammation for patients with other cancers who are taking other types of chemotherapy as well. Further research is needed, she said, to determine the appropriate dose and duration of milk thistle therapy.

Her team also hopes to evaluate the herb's ability to prevent chemo-induced liver inflammation.

Still, some experts remain unconvinced about the herb's value in cancer treatment. Dr. Julio C. Barredo, director of pediatric hematology-oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that the study's small size, the low doses of milk thistle used and the short time frame of the study make the findings inconclusive.

Also, there was no difference in the delay of treatment in either group, he said.

"Improvement in one liver enzyme did not lead to patients who received the drug being delayed less than patients who received placebo in getting their chemotherapy," Barredo said.

"I don't think that you could recommend that people go and take this supplement when they are taking chemotherapy from the results of this study," Barredo said. "Maybe a larger study, using a higher dose is warranted."

Liver inflammation from chemotherapy usually abates when treatment stops or doses get reduced, Barredo added.

SOURCES: Kara Kelly, M.D., New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, New York City; Julio C. Barredo, M.D., director, pediatric hematology-oncology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Dec. 14, 2009, Cancer, online Published on: December 14, 2009