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Health Highlights: March 6, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Sex May be Good for Migraines: Study

Sex may help treat migraines and cluster headaches, according to a new study.

German researchers looked at 800 patients with migraines and 200 patients with cluster headaches. About one-third of the patients said they had sex during a migraine or cluster headache, CBS News reported.

Sixty percent of migraine sufferers and one-third of those with cluster headaches who had sex said they had some level of pain relief, with most achieving moderate or complete relief, according to the study published Feb. 19 in the journal Cephalagia.

For one-third of the migraine patients, the pain got worse when they had sex, the University of Munster researchers said. They also found that some patients -- mostly men -- used sex as a way to treat migraines, CBS News reported.

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Actress Valerie Harper Has Brain Cancer

Actress Valerie Harper, 73, has terminal brain cancer and as little as three months to live.

Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on television's "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff "Rhoda," received the diagnosis on Jan. 15, People magazine said on its website Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

In a cover interview with the magazine, Harper said: "I don't think of dying. I think of being here now."

Harper's character, Rhoda, was one of the most popular sidekicks on television during the 1970s, the AP said.

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FDA Panel Says Bone Drugs Should No Longer Be Used for Osteoporosis

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted on Tuesday to recommend that an inhalable osteoporosis drug no longer be used by women because recent research has suggested it might raise the risk of cancer.

In a 12-9 vote, the panel said the risks of Miacalcin and Fortical outweigh the benefits, according to the Associated Press. Novartis makes Miacalcin and Upsher-Smith makes Fortical. Both medications are sold as nasal sprays.

Last July, the European Medicines Agency ruled that the drugs should no longer be used to treat bone loss because of the cancer risk, the AP reported.

While some of the panelists said the drugs provide a viable alternative for women who cannot tolerate taking bisphosophonates for osteoporosis, other members were not convinced it was a good idea to recommend continued use of the drugs, the AP reported.

"I think the cancer risk seems to be low, but it tips the balance for this drug, which has very little evidence of efficacy," said Amy Whitaker, a professor at the University of Chicago.

According to the AP, prescriptions for the medications have plummeted in recent years amid safety concerns. Between 2006 and 2011 the number of U.S. patients receiving the drugs fell 51 percent, to 205,000.


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