Your Health

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Good News
FOOD FOR SIGHT Seniors tend to have trouble with panoramic views. About 20% of Americans over 60 suffer from macular degeneration, above, which gradually cloaks their sight in shadow. In a surprise finding, researchers report that simply taking vitamins may slow the progression of the disease. High doses (far above those recommended by the Food and Drug Administration) of antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta carotene, combined with zinc, offer measurable protection against vision loss.

Bad News
TOO TRANQUIL? If you've had surgery recently and experienced nausea while coming out of anesthesia, your doctor may have given you a tranquilizer called droperidol. Even at standard low doses, however, the drug can cause an irregular heartbeat, and last week the FDA issued a warning to physicians, asking them to use droperidol only as a last resort.

DO NOT MIX To treat breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, doctors generally recommend surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. But if that therapy includes Taxol, a commonly used anticancer drug, the radiation could be especially damaging to the lungs. In a study of more than 1,300 breast-cancer patients, those who took Taxol had a 14.6% chance of developing pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs, compared with 1.1% among those not using the drug.

Sources: Good News--Archives of Ophthalmology. Bad News--FDA; Journal of the National Cancer Institute