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Combat cancer by reducing stress

Updated: May 19, 2012 8:04AM



Q. I’ve been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and have to have surgery, chemo, the whole bit. I hear meditation can help me win my fight. Is it true?

A. Meditation, deep breathing, talk therapy — and anything else that reduces stress — is a good idea in any high-stress situation. And new evidence reinforces what we’ve been saying for years: You can help defeat cancer if you practice stress management.

A comprehensive approach to stress reduction sounds like just what you need. You can find good programs in teaching hospitals, and we’re certain your oncologist or GP will give you advice on where to go. So breathe deep — and relax!

Q.

I take a brand-name drug for my thyroid condition, and my husband does the same for a liver condition. Generic versions don’t work for either of us. What’s up with that?

A. Generic drugs are strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and for most people they do offer an effective, cost-saving alternative to more expensive brand-name medications.

Generics usually go for a third of the brand price because manufactures don’t have to earn back the expense of research and development. The active drug in the brand-name version and the generic must be the same, and the medications bioavailability — that is, how it is absorbed and how soon it is delivered to where it’s needed in the body — must be equivalent to the original.

But you have to remember, no drug — brand or generic — works exactly the same way for everyone. If you are taking a drug that requires very precise control of the dose, a generic’s “equivalent” status may not do the trick for you. This problem is common with thyroid medications, so you’re not alone in your difficulties using the generic version. Even for less-demanding medical regimens, a generic might not work the same way as a brand. Generics can use a slightly different “release” technology (altering how it gets into your system) and can change inactive ingredients like binders, fillers, preservatives, coloring and flavoring.

So, it is possible that the generics for your thyroid and liver conditions are different enough from the brands that you shouldn’t take them. In the future, if you think about taking a generic, here’s what we advise:

When possible, go with a generic that’s made by the same company that makes (or made) the brand-name drug. The FDA estimates 50 percent of generics are produced by their original brand-name companies.

Pay attention to how you feel; if you don’t think the medication is doing what it’s supposed to, ask if you can try a brand name or switch to another medication.

And if the brand-name version is too expensive, contact your insurance provider to see if it can suggest ways to cut the cost, or see if the pharmaceutical company has a program to make the medication more affordable.

King Features Syndicate



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