Botox For Your….Bladder?

Botox may be better known for smoothing wrinkles, but a new study finds that it can greatly help women with overactive bladders achieve more normal lives.

The Atlantic magazine reports that the largest study to date has found that Botox is effective at calming the muscles that cause women to have urinary incontinence. The study, conducted in the United Kingdom, was published online in European Urology.

The 240 women in the study had severely overactive bladders that had not responded to standard treatments, such as pelvic muscle tightening exercises and medication.

A total of 122 women received Botox injections along their bladder wall, while a control group received saline injections. The women then reported on how the treatment was working at six weeks, three months and six months after the injections. (Botox works by blocking nerve signals that cause muscles to contract or spasm.)

By six months, nearly one-third of the women who got Botox had full control over urination, compared to 12 percent of the saline group. Even those who did not become fully continent reported that leakage episodes had decreased from six times a day to just 1.67.

There were some side effects to the treatment. One in six women in the study reported difficulty urinating at some point during the six months and some required self-catheterization to drain the urine. Urinary tract infections also occurred in three times as many women in the Botox group as in the saline group.

However, the researchers noted that some of these side effects may improve as doctors reduce the Botox dose with further research and study.

Botox, manufactured by Allergan, was approved in the U.S. last year by the Food and Drug Administration to be used for urinary incontinence associated with neurological diseases like spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

In other health news:

Benefits of hormone-replacement therapy outweigh risks. The Wall Street Journal reports on a new study that finds that the benefits of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) outweigh the risks for women who start it near menopause. The 2002 government study that found that women on HRT had a higher rate of heart disease and cancer has recently been challenged because it was done on women who started HRT 12 years past menopause.

A cheaper, simpler scope exam cuts colon cancer death. The flexible sigmoidoscopy — a simpler, cheaper exam of just the lower part of the colon — can cut the risk of developing colon cancer or dying of the disease, a large federal study finds. The Associated Press reports that a traditional colonoscopy is better, but for those who refuse to undergo one, this test can still be a good option. As one researcher put it, “The best test is the one that gets done.”

A raw food diet for pets catches on. For years, the New York Times reports, raw food enthusiasts have touted the health benefits of uncooked food for humans. Now, some veterinarians and pet owners believe that a raw meat diet is best for pets.

Women and children first? Not likely. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “unwritten law of the sea” in a disaster has usually been ignored, according to a new study of 18 maritime wrecks dating from 1852 to 2011. In 16 disasters (excluding the Titanic, with its many female survivors, and the Lusitania, on which men and women died at equal rates), men survived disasters at twice the rate of women, 34.5 percent versus 17.8 percent, and crew out-survived passengers by 18.7 percentage points. In other words, it was every man — literally — for himself.

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