ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
CANCER
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
CAREGIVING
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Free Range
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders

Want to lower cholesterol levels in hopes of preventing coronary heart disease and stroke? The odds are your doctor will probably prescribe a statin drug. In fact, a recent Forbes report found that from 11 million to 30 million Americans are already taking these drugs and many physicians argue another 25 million should be popping these pills daily. What’s often lost in the hype about this class of drugs is the reality of the side effects – sometimes serious – associated with statins, including muscle pain, neurological disorders, rashes and liver problems.

Now comes word of yet another downside to these supposedly “magic bullets” for artery clogging cholesterol. A new study led by F.W. Fraunfelder, MD, of the Casey Eye Institute of Oregon Health and Science University, is the first to systematically report on eye disorders caused by statin use. The results are published in the December issue of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Fraunfelder's group analyzed reports of double vision (diplopia), drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis), and loss of full range of motion of the eyes (ophthalmoplegia) in people taking statins. Because statins are already known to cause skeletal muscle disorders in some patients, the scientists reasoned that a similar impact of the drugs on eye muscles was most likely the reason for the eye problems.

They used databases of the National Registry of Drug-Induced Ocular Side Effects, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Drug Administration to document the case reports, which included 143 males, 91 females, and 22 persons with gender unspecified. The average age of the patients was 64.5 years and the dose of statins those with eye disorders took was within the normal range recommended by drug manufacturers. On average, they took the drugs for only 8.3 months before they began to develop an adverse reaction affecting their eyes.

In all, the researchers found 23 cases of loss of eye range of motion, 8 cases of ptosis, and 18 cases of ptosis combined with double vision. The good news: These eye disorders completely went away in all patients when statins were discontinued.

"We advise physicians prescribing statins to be aware that these eye disorders may result, and that medications should be discontinued if so,” Dr. Fraunfelder concluded in a statement to the media. “When a patient has one of these eye disorders, he should be rigorously evaluated to determine the cause, and statin use should be taken into account."

The recent Forbes report on the statin industry revealed the drugs generated $34 billion in sales last year and have raked in a quarter of a trillion dollars since they were introduced about 20 years ago. The drugs are currently being increasingly pushed to a wider population, including children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended some children as young as eight should be aggressively treated with cholesterol-lowering statins, despite the fact there are no long-term studies showing the drugs are safe and effective for children.

Instead of focusing on a quick medication fix if you or your children have elevated cholesterol, consider that lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke – without the potentially dangerous side effects of drugs. According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting daily exercise and managing stress are examples of lifestyle changes that will improve cholesterol, as well as most all of the other risk factors for heart disease. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that lifestyle changes may have a greater impact on reducing risk of heart disease and stroke than medication.

-Sherry Baker