Largest Study Shows No Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors

Michael Schulder, MD

According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, there is no link between long-term use of mobile phones and brain tumors or tumors of the central nervous system.  One of the largest and longest studies of its kind, Danish researchers found no evidence that the risk of brain tumors was raised among approximately 360,000 cell phone subscribers over an 18-year period.

While this study may put us more at ease, there are still measures one can take to reduce any risk there might be by either not talking for long periods with the cell phone to the ear or by using an earpiece or speaker.  By using these methods, any risk of brain tumor formation from cell phone use can be essentially eliminated.

In reality, the biggest danger from cell phones may not be from brain cancer, but rather from using cell phones while driving.  The risks incurred with cell phone use while driving, whether it is texting, looking at emails, or even holding a phone to one’s ear, are much higher than any theoretical risk of getting a brain tumor.  Common sense and medical studies show this to be the case.

 

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Experimental Drug May Ease Huntington’s Symptoms

Andrew Feigin, MD

There may be new hope for people with Huntington’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by movement, cognitive, and behavioral deficits. Results from a large multicenter double-blind study in patients with Huntington’s disease suggest that an experimental drug called pridopidine might improve motor function, according to a study published in the new issue of the Lancet Neurology journal.

A well-tolerated drug that produces even small benefits for people with Huntington’s disease would be a very welcome addition to the currently available treatments for this debilitating disorder. The study suggests that pridopidine might benefit symptoms of Huntington's disease—like eye movements, hand coordination, dystonia and gait or balance problems--that currently have no treatments.
 

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Regular Exercise May Help Guard Against Migraine

Robert Duarte, MD

Exercise can prevent migraines just as well as drugs or relaxation techniques, according to a new study recently published online by the journal Cephalalgia. In the study, 91 migraine patients were evaluated over the course of three months. One third of the patients were asked to exercise for 40 minutes three times each week. Another third of the participants performed relaxation techniques and the final third were prescribed a migraine drug called topiramate. Researchers found that the patients in all three groups experienced fewer migraines and found that exercise was just as effective in preventing migraines as the medication and relaxation techniques.

The study shows the importance of an exercise program. As we know, exercise is another form of relaxation and is known to cause a release in endorphins, which are the body’s own pain-reducing substances. Migraine patients should be strongly advised to introduce an exercise program as part of their migraine prevention program. Additionally, migraine patients should make sure to see a primary medical doctor before starting an exercise routine.
 

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Best Options to Treat Essential Tremor

Michael Pourfar, MD

Essential tremor, a progressive neurological disorder that causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, legs or voice, affects about 10 million people in the United States. The American Academy of Neurology recently released and published an updated guideline on how to best treat essential tremor in the journal Neurology.

Based on a review of more than 500 previously published studies, the new academy guideline for management of essential tremor provides an update on the effectiveness of various medications and surgical interventions.

Currently, the mainstay remains that the drug primidone and the high blood pressure drug propranolol are the most effective at improving shaking in people with essential tremor. There is weaker evidence supporting the use of certain other medications, as well as botulinum injections and surgery for the more advanced cases. The American Academy of Neurology's review also cites the data of several medications that were studied in trials but did not show convincing evidence of benefit. 

Overall, the academy's new guideline is not likely to significantly change the approach to patients with essential tremor. However it does provide a very helpful review of where things stand regarding appropriate treatment options.
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Stents: Not a Promising Anti-Stroke Treatment

Jeffrey Katz, MD

Patients whose narrowed arteries put them at risk for a stroke have a better chance at avoiding stroke via medications rather than artery-opening stents, according to a study just published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. Furthermore, the authors of the study noted that while the risk of early stroke after stenting is high, the risk of stroke with aggressive drug therapy alone is lower than expected.

This finding should help doctors decide what to do. As it stands now, stents are appropriate for less than 10 percent of stroke patients, so unless better stents are developed, intracranial stenting is not a growth industry.
 

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