Return of a major player

James Deacon August 2 1999

Return of a major player

James Deacon August 2 1999

Defending Montreux

The controversial clinic’s founder disputes charges

Health Monitor

Wiping away tears, the founder of the controversial Montreux clinic in Victoria told a hearing that could shut down the treatment centre that her philosophy was based on building trust with eatingdisorder patients so “we can begin the slow road back to logic and reason.” Appearing for the first time before the licence-review hearing,

Peggy Claude-Pierre denied allegations that the five-year-old clinic, which has earned international media attention for its success in treating eating disorders, violated provincial health regulations. She also talked about helping her own two daughters overcome anorexia. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” she said. “It’s an embarrassing and uncomfortable position to be in.” Earlier in the six weeks of hearings, former patients and their parents praised Claude-Pierre, who runs the clinic with her husband, David Harris, for saving them from anorexia and bulimia. Licensing officials in the Victoria health region want to close Montreux for violating 28 regulations.

Cross-examining Claude-Pierre, lawyer Guy McDonald said the hearings were not about her treatment philosophy—the question was whether the clinic met “minimum standards of health and safety.” She defended the clinic’s treatment of David Bruce, who was allegedly force-fed after entering the clinic at the age of 3. Claude-Pierre testified that the boy was eating only a few pieces of breakfast cereal a day when he first visited the clinic. She decided he should live on Montreux premises with his mother nearby— “Anything we did with David was with

his mother’s direction.” In earlier testimony, a Montreux official admitted staff misled health officials who questioned them about the boy’s treatment.

Deadly bugs

Ulcer-causing bacteria also appear to play a role in triggering a type of stomach cancer—and the cancers can often be eradicated by treatment with antibiotics, according to U.S. researchers. Scientists at the University of Texas in Houston said that in a study of 34 patients with a

relatively rare form of stomach cancer called gastric lymphoma, 28 of the patients were also found to be infected with

H. pylori, a bacterium that causes ulcers. After treatment with antibiotics, the cancer in half the patients who tested positive for H. pylori went into remission. The findings were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Concluding that the lymphoma “is dependent on H. pylori for growth,” the researchers said there is a growing belief that infections play a role in the development of some types of cancer.

A drug reborn

A little-used, 30-year-old drug has shown dramatic results in a clinical trial, reducing the death rate among patients suffering from congestive heart failure by nearly a third. Doctors who conducted the study involving more than

I, 600 people in 15 countries, including Canada, recommended that the chug Aldactone become a standard treatment for congestive heart failure, a condition that results when the heart muscle is seriously weakened. Aldactone, manufactured by the Skokie, Ill.-based pharmaceutical firm Searle, was once widely used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure, but was displaced by newer treatments. Results of the study are to be published in the Sept. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, but the journal said it made the findings public earlier because of their medical importance.

A PCB-breast cancer link?

A Queen’s University researcher says she has found evidence that for the first time links some types of the banned chemicals known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) with breast cancer. Epidemiologist Kristan Aronson said she found concentrations of three types of PCBs in tissue from women who had the disease. She added that further studies were needed to confirm that the chemicals—long suspected of being carcinogenic—play a role in breast cancer. Once widely used as electrical equipment insulators, PCBs were banned in the mid-1970s after they were found to cause liver damage and other problems in humans. Aronson planned to present her findings, which have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, at this week’s World Conference on Breast Cancer in Ottawa.