Several antineoplastic drugs have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on the basis of epidemiological findings, animal carcinogenicity data, and outcomes of in vitro genotoxicity studies. 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU), which is easily absorbed through the skin, is the most frequently used antineoplastic agent in Portuguese hospitals and therefore may be used as an indicator of surface contamination. The aims of the present investigation were to (1) examine surface contamination by 5-FU and (2) assess the genotoxic risk using cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay in nurses from two Portuguese hospitals. The study consisted of 2 groups: 27 nurses occupationally exposed to cytostatic agents (cases) and 111 unexposed individuals (controls). Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) were collected in order to measure micronuclei (MN) in both groups. Hospital B showed a higher numerical level of contamination but not significantly different from Hospital A. However; Hospital A presented the highest value of contamination and also a higher proportion of contaminated samples. The mean frequency of MN was significantly higher in exposed workers compared with controls. No significant differences were found among MN levels between the two hospitals. The analysis of confounding factors showed that age is a significant variable in MN frequency occurrence. Data suggest that there is a potential genotoxic damage related to occupational exposure to cytostatic drugs in oncology nurses.
Specialist physicians may have prescribing habits that are different from nonspecialist physicians. Little is known about the prescribing habits of physicians specializing in the treatment of obesity. An anonymous survey was given to the physician members of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP). There was a 35% response rate (266 physicians) to the questionnaire that was represented nationally. Almost all prescribed medications and all of them recommended phentermine. The average maximal dose of phentermine was above that approved in the package insert, and these physicians disagreed with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Obesity Treatment Guidelines. Phendimetrazine, metformin, and phentermine plus L-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) with carbidopa were all used more frequently than either orlistat or sibutramine. The combination of sibutramine and orlistat as well as 5-HTP/carbidopa were prescribed by 14 and 20%, respectively. As 5-HTP-carbidopa was a combination not previously reported for the treatment of obesity, a retrospective chart review was performed in a single obesity practice, which may not be representative. Twenty-two subjects had a 16% weight loss with phentermine over 6 months and an additional 1% weight loss with the addition of 5-HTP/carbidopa for an additional 6 months. One subject who started on 5-HTP/carbidopa alone lost % of initial body weight over 6 months. This questionnaire revealed that 20% of the obesity specialists responding to the survey used phentermine plus of 5-HTP/carbidopa, an unreported combination. A controlled, randomized, clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this combination in treating obesity should be considered.