My mother died of breast cancer, so I am careful to avoid estrogen. Vaginal dryness is a problem, though, so my doctor prescribed Vagifem, which is a vaginal tablet. He implied that it would act locally and that I need not worry about estrogen exposure. Is this true? If not, are there alternatives?
Vaginal estrogen, whether in cream or tablet form, is absorbed into the bloodstream. A study published online in the Annals of Oncology (Jan. 26) shows that Vagifem raises estradiol levels significantly. This action might undo the benefit of medications prescribed to prevent breast-cancer recurrence. Such an exposure to estrogen could well give you pause.
What can you tell me about salsalate? My doctor says it's safer than aspirin.
Salsalate is a kissing cousin to aspirin. It is disalicylic instead of acetylsalicylic acid. Because it is absorbed from the small intestine, salsalate might be a little less likely to irritate the stomach.
I heard that locally produced honey could help allergies. How much should be taken each day?
Although we, too, have heard of this remedy, a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (February 2002) suggests it is ineffective.
Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon, an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition, can be reached at http://www.peoplespharmacy.com or in care of this newspaper.