Health Updates 7 February 2012

  • Pricey surgery robots lack clear benefits: “As robots march into operating rooms across the nation, some doctors are getting worried that patients might not be better off with the costly machines.  In the latest study to cast doubt on the technology, researchers found similar complication rates among women treated for endometrial cancer whether or not surgeons got help from a robot.  Yet robotic surgery costs about $1,300 more than the low-tech approach, called laparoscopy, in addition to the upfront cost to the hospital of the machine itself.  ‘Robotic surgery is clearly associated with higher costs, without any clear advantages’,  Dr. Jason Wright, a gynecologic surgeon at Columbia University in New York, told Reuters Health….he and his colleagues say millions of dollars could be saved by switching from robotic surgery to traditional laparoscopy, adding that official regulation might be needed.  ‘Surgeons need to keep in mind all of the modalities that are available to them’, said Wright.  ‘The new, more technologically advanced ones aren’t always better’.”(Reuters/MedlinePlus)
  • More Americans seeking love online: Online dating has upended traditional matchmaking, new research suggests, with more would-be suitors embracing the notion that Mr. or Ms. Right may only be a click away.  A review of roughly 400 studies and surveys reveals that for an estimated 25 million users around the world, the online dating scene has gone mainstream, shedding all vestiges of stigma.  Online dating is now second only to direct introductions through friends as a means of lighting the candle of romance.  However, the investigating team cautions that matchmaking sites may foster unrealistic expectations, while boasting of allegedly ‘scientific’ dating formulas that are misleading and unproven….’many of the online industry sites says that they have used science to figure out who is compatible with you.  And they make a lot of money with those claims.  But the reality is they have presented no evidence to back up their notion of a ‘special sauce’. ‘” (HealthDay)
  • Administration announces new steps to fight Alzheimer’s disease: “The Obama administration today announced new efforts to fight Alzheimer’s disease, including immediately making an additional $50 million available for cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research.  In addition, the administration announced that its Fiscal Year 2013 budget will boost funding for Alzheimer’s research by $80 million.  Today’s announcement also includes an additional $26 million in caregiver support, provider education, public awareness and improvements in data infrastructure.” (
  • Cancer-deterring drug found to harm bones: “A drug that scientists hoped might be a safe new way to prevent breast cancer appears to pose a risk after all: significant bone loss.  The finding, published online Monday in The Lancet Oncology, could make women more reluctant to use the drug, exemestane, and it deals a setback to the notion that one day healthy people might take medicine to reduce their risk of getting cancer.”  (NY Times)

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