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ADHD is risk factor for substance use

June 6, 2011

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Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have about a 50 percent greater chance than their peers of developing problems with drugs and alcohol, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found.

The researchers evaluated 257 adolescents, ages 6 to 17, who had ADHD and 225 who did not and then checked in with them again about 10 years later. The group with ADHD was about 2.7 times more likely to develop drug abuse problems, primarily with marijuana. Among the more surprising findings was that there were no differences in risk between boys and girls and that a person’s cognitive abilities and school achievement also did not affect their likelihood of developing substance abuse problems, lead author and child psychiatrist Timothy E. Wilens said. The authors said further identification of risk factors for substance abuse will help physicians better treat people with ADHD.

BOTTOM LINE: Children with ADHD are more likely than their peers to use drugs and alcohol.

CAUTIONS: The study group was somewhat small and homogenous, consisting mostly of middle-class white people. It also relied on self-reporting from participants and their families and did not conduct urine tests.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, June 2011

Ovarian cancer screens didn’t reduce deaths Screening women with vaginal ultrasound or a blood test for a cancer biomarker is not effective in preventing deaths from ovarian cancer, researchers in a large National Cancer Institute study found.

Researchers studied 68,557 women, ages 55 to 74, enrolled in the study at 10 screening centers between 1993 and 2001. About half were randomly assigned to receive annual screenings with a blood test for the CA-125 biomarker or an ultrasound, and the others were not screened. The participants were followed for up to 13 years.

Screening did not reduce the chance of mortality from ovarian cancer. In fact, there were 118 deaths among those who were screened and 100 deaths among those who were not. Of those diagnosed with cancer, 69 percent in the screening group and 78 percent in the control group had late-stage cancers, a difference the authors called slight.

BOTTOM LINE: Vaginal ultrasound and blood tests for the CA-125 biomarker are not effective in preventing ovarian cancer deaths.

CAUTIONS: Little data were collected about the kinds of treatment a woman received after cancer was detected.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, June 8

CHELSEA CONABOY

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