Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ritalin... A Time Bomb?

Tick...tick...tick...tick...tick... That's the quiet sound that a time bomb makes, long before it goes off. In this case, the time bomb may be Ritalin, the popular drug used to address attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In a recent study, University of Texas (UT) researchers recruited a dozen children who were about eight years old. All of the children had been diagnosed with ADHD, but none of them had been treated yet. Blood samples were taken from each child before and after a three-month trial period in which each child received a normal therapeutic dose of Ritalin (20 to 54 mg per day). When blood samples were analyzed, the UT team found that chromosomal damage to white blood cells sharply increased in all of the children during the test period. Researchers cautioned that this does NOT necessarily mean that Ritalin causes cancer, but they were alarmed that every child experienced a dramatic increase in chromosome damage over such a short period of time. The lead investigator of the study, Marvin Legator, Ph.D., told WebMD Medical News that this outcome presents a "potentially very large risk factor." The body has mechanisms that repair chromosomal breaks. Whether or not the breaks caused by Ritalin might lead to cancer over time will need to be determined with more extensive research. Meanwhile, without knowing it, many thousands of parents are rolling the dice on the future health of their children. You can read a detailed account from Dr. Spreen about the profound impact that dietary factors have on attention and hyperactivity in children in the alert "How to Dismantle an '89 Ford".

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