New cancer treatments are also offering patients hope. A drug commonly used to fight bone loss, Raloxifene, is proving to be effective in reducing a woman's risk of breast cancer. While a new screening technique for lung cancer is detecting tumors much earlier than traditional x-rays.
This year, doctors uncovered increasing evidence linking heart disease to infection. Researchers believe a type of bacteria enters the bloodstream and inflames the arteries. If so, antibiotics could soon be prescribed to prevent heart attacks.
Good news for millions of Americans on another heart front: those diagnosed with a heart valve problem. A study found that not only was mitral valve prolapse often misdiagnosed, but fears surrounding the condition were greatly exaggerated.
Hundreds of people across the country began taking part in a groundbreaking study on Alzheimer's disease this year. Scientists are testing two new therapies to see if they can find a way to ward off the brain disorder.
As Americans continue to get fatter, everyone seems to be looking for that magic pill to lose weight. This year Xenical came pretty close, at least for those who could tolerate the unpleasant side effects. Other dieters turned to a 70's phenomenon. The Atkins Diet made its way back to the dinner table, and back into the American psyche. But experts caution the high-fat, low-carb regimen could contribute to kidney as well as other health problems.
Then there were the human stories in 1999, like that of Matthew Scott. One of the first in the world to receive a hand transplant, Scott opted for the surgery, instead of a prosthesis, to fullfill his wish of one day holding his two sons.
And who can forget the dramatic story of a doctor who discovered a lump in her breast while stationed in the South Pole? With the help of airlifted medical supplies and emails to doctors in the U.S., Dr. Jerri Nielsen was able to treat herself for months in the most remote places on Earth. Meanwhile the doctor who replaced her, Robert Thompson, is now posting his experiences here on this website, in the Sci-Tech section.
Written by Lee Cowan.
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