Saturday, April 07, 2007

Advair and lung cancer

I'm sure you've listened to the 'fine print' on televised prescription drug commercials. At the end of the ad, a fast-paced disclaimer rips through the potential death and destruction associated with use of the drug. My nearest and dearest relative with COPD who generally is disinclined to pay attention to any commercials whatsoever chucked his Advair in the trash after hearing out the Advair ad to its end.

Now a bunch of ex-cigarette-smoking old veterans are proving that inhaled steroids (which are part of the Advair formulation) may have additional benefits to outweigh those risks. Over 10,000 of them previously diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were followed for nearly 4 years in order to study the association of inhaled steroid use with the onset of lung cancer. Lung cancer is common in COPD patients and a frequent cause of death in this population.

Those subjects who stuck with their inhalation therapy, sucking in at least 1200 mcg/day of steroids had a whopping 61% decreased incidence of lung cancer over the course of the study. The Seattle investigators postulated that the anti-inflammatory effect of the medication decreased the risk of malignant cell transformations.

Perhaps someday they'll mention that in the TV ads.

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