Health Highlights: Oct. 2, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Bone Drug Could Be Helping More Women: Study

A bone drug used to treat osteoporosis significantly lowered the risk of fractures in older women without the disease, according to a new study.

It included 2,000 women, average age 71, with moderate bone loss. One in 4 had previously suffered a fracture. Every 18 months, the women received either an IV placebo or a Novartis IV drug known as Reclast in the United States and Aclasta elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.

Over six years, 122 women in the drug group and 190 of those on placebo suffered a fracture. Along with having a 37 percent overall lower fracture risk, the women in the drug group had a 50 percent lower risk of vertebral fracture, in which part of the spine collapses.

For every 15 women who received the drug treatment, one fracture was prevented, according to the study presented Monday at an American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings suggest that bone drugs used to treat osteoporosis may also benefit those with moderate bone loss, “the group in whom 80 percent of fractures occur,” said study leader Ian Reid, University of Auckland in New Zealand, the AP reported.


In Rare Case, Breakthrough Leukemia Treatment Is Tied to Patient’s Death

A previously unknown risk of a breakthrough leukemia treatment is being blamed for a patient’s death.

The treatment is a type of immunotherapy in which a patient’s own white blood cells are genetically engineered to fight the blood cancer. It has provided long-term remissions to leukemia patients who were near death, The New York Times reported.

Doctors have learned to manage the known risks of the treatment, but the therapy went wrong in a previously unknown way in the case of a 20-year-old man with an aggressive form of leukemia.

Along with altering the patient’s cancer-fighting cells, the therapy accidentally changed the genes of one leukemia cell, making it invisible to the white blood cells programmed to seek and destroy the cancer, The Times reported.

As a result, the patient suffered a fatal relapse of his leukemia, according to the case study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

The authors said the case confirms a longstanding belief that it takes just one malignant cell to trigger a deadly cancer, The Times reported.