Teenagers and young adults who frequently use marijuana increase the risk of psychotic symptoms such as bizarre behavior and delusions later in life, Dutch scientists say. Young people with a...

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Dutch study

Heavy pot smokers at risk for psychosis

Teenagers and young adults who frequently use marijuana increase the risk of psychotic symptoms such as bizarre behavior and delusions later in life, Dutch scientists say.

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Young people with a family history, or pre-existing susceptibility to mental instability, are particularly vulnerable.

Researchers at the University of the Netherlands studied 2,437 people ages 14-24 and identified those with a predisposition for psychosis. They also questioned them about their marijuana use and followed up for four years.

In the group without vulnerability to psychosis, there was a small effect from marijuana. But the risk was four times higher in subjects with a vulnerability to psychosis.

The study showed the odds of experiencing symptoms of psychosis were higher for people who smoked marijuana more frequently, researchers said


Costs still in debate for outpatient chemo

Medicare payments for cancer drugs will decline next year but will still exceed what doctors pay for them, congressional investigators say.

Cancer doctors and some patient advocates have said the Bush administration’s planned cuts would imperil office-based chemotherapy treatments and force patients to travel to hospitals for their medicines.

But Medicare payments for the drugs will exceed doctors’ costs by 6 percent on average, while reimbursements for other services will be more than double, on average, from two years ago, the congressional Government Accountability Office said.

The changed reimbursement, part of last year’s Medicare prescription drug law, is an effort to address long-standing excess payments for the drugs and insufficient reimbursement for administering the medicines and other office expenses.

Medicare won’t pay for most prescription medicines until 2006, but it covers the cost of intravenous chemotherapy and other treatments that must be dispensed by medical professionals.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology, which has opposed the changes, responded that the study was flawed, GAO said.

Cancer specialists and patient advocates have asked Congress to essentially freeze payments at current levels until various agencies complete studies of the new pricing system, expected in 2006.

Weight-loss study

Dairy products won’t help you slim down

Dairy products don’t boost weight loss for dieters, according to new research.

Some earlier data suggested that consuming foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt might facilitate weight loss, but a larger study that came out last month didn’t find that to be the case.

Researchers at the University of Vermont divided 54 people into two groups. Participants in one group cut calories by 500 a day and ate four servings of mostly low-fat dairy products (1,200 to 1,400 milligrams of calcium).

The second group cut the same number of calories but ate one serving of dairy a day (500 milligrams of calcium).

They consumed between 1,200 and 2,100 calories a day, depending on their weight.

All were in a behavior-modification program, and all were encouraged to burn 1,000 calories a week with exercise.

Everyone consumed the same percentages of fat, carbohydrates and protein. After six months, dieters had lost an average of 20 to 22 pounds. There was no significant difference between the high-dairy and low-dairy groups.

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