Health Buzz: The Latest Medical News

New research on participants in the Women's Health Initiative study who underwent combined estrogen-progestin therapy shows a slightly increased risk of cancer for menopausal women after they stopped hormone replacement therapy about three years ago. But those results should be interpreted with caution, says U.S. News Health Editor Bernadine Healy, since the differences are quite small in absolute terms and could disappear over time. In related news, HRT also increases the risk of having an abnormal mammogram or breast biopsy.

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Hormone therapy and the risk of cancer

New research on participants in the Women's Health Initiative study who underwent combined estrogen-progestin therapy shows a slightly increased risk of cancer for menopausal women after they stopped hormone replacement therapy about three years ago. But those results should be interpreted with caution, says U.S. News Health Editor Bernadine Healy, since the differences are quite small in absolute terms and could disappear over time. In related news, HRT also increases the risk of having an abnormal mammogram or breast biopsy.

Americans and prescription medicine

An AARP report today  indicates that common brand-name prescription drugs used by seniors were 7.3 percent more expensive in 2007 than the year before. The prices of only four brand-name drugs, out of the 220 included in the study, remained the same or were reduced last year.

And a survey  released yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, USA Today, and the Harvard School of Public Health shows that 4 in 10 Americans think prescription drugs are too expensive, and that many people skip doses, split pills, or do not fill prescriptions due to the cost.

Medical errors: Who foots the bill?

If you go under the knife and the surgeon accidentally amputates the wrong leg, who pays for the error? Depending on where you live, you may have to pick up the cost.  At msnbc.com, there's a map  showing in which states hospitals can and do charge you or your insurance company for preventable mistakes. Currently only 11 states recommend hospitals waive fees for the serious medical errors called "never events."

Heading in for surgery and a little nervous about it? Check out a video report by usnews.com on Navigating the Hospital.