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What's Ahead for Health in 2008

Experts predict medical trends in the new year.
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Cancer: More Targeted Therapies continued...

"We are also going to learn more about how medications that treat anemia caused by chemotherapy can be appropriately used and how they should not be used," Brawley says.

Recently some research has shown that these drugs, which stimulate red blood cell production, may actually promote tumor growth and/or cause blood clots. "We are going to learn more about how to use these drugs," Brawley says. "They do have a place in oncology, but they have been overused."

Diabetes: Is the Epidemic Finally Over?

The diabetes epidemic may plateau in 2008, predicts John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and the president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association.

"We are starting to see early hints that the extremely rapid increase in the numbers of people with diabetes may have turned the corner," he says. "I do think that things are improving relatively rapidly."

As for "diabesity," the converging epidemic of obesity and diabetes, "people are individually and personally trying to make efforts, at least in segments of the population, so there is reason to hope things will be better in 2008 than in 2007."

There probably won't be any new diabetes drugs in 2008, Buse says, and fewer patients will be using a class of drugs known as glitazones. In 2007, one such drug, Avandia, was linked to an increased risk for heart attack in people with diabetes.

Inhaled insulin hit a snafu in 2007 when Pfizer announced that it would stop selling Exubera for financial reasons. But "inhaled insulin is not dead as a concept," Buse says. "Perhaps a smaller device that is easier for patients to use and is associated with reasonable expectations will have a place in the future."

Plastic Surgery: Less Is More

Less will be more in 2008, predicts Foad Nahai, MD, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and a plastic surgeon in private practice in Atlanta.

"I think what we are going to see more of in 2008 is a continuing interest in injectables, fillers, toxins, and other noninvasive procedures [to reduce some of the visible signs of aging]," he predicts. "What we are going to see less of are the very complicated and sophisticated face-lift procedures that provide probably the best results, but also require the longest recovery."

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