ASPIRIN Not quite the wonder drug after all
Aspirin may cause a form of asthma that could affect up to 21 per cent of all those who regularly take it or any other NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), according to a review of 66 reports in the literature - some of which go back as far as 1964 (BMJ, 2004; 328: 434-7).
CANCER TREATMENT Did they tell you it could cause infertility?
Hundreds of thousands of women who have endured chemotherapy and radiotherapy become infertile, according to new evidence. Ovarian failure and permanent uterine damage are common side-effects of the treatment.
Researchers also recommend cryopreservation (freezing) of ovarian tissue, but its longer-term effects need to be monitored before it can be said to be a safe and effective remedy (Lancet, 2004; 363: 837-40).
THE Z DRUGS No more ZZZZZZZs
The latest sleeping pills are no better for insomnia than the old-style ones, concludes Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The new-style drugs, called the 'Z drugs' (zaleplon, zolpidem and zopiclone) were developed to overcome some of the disadvantages of the older benzodiazepines, such as dependence and withdrawal problems.
However, NICE recommends that all sleeping drugs - whether new or old - be used only for very short periods and only after other, non-drug methods have been attempted (BMJ, 2004; 328: 1093).