ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
CAREGIVING
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Holiday Eating
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
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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