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D. Age is an Important Factor When Treating Pain

Narrator: This is Science Today. When it comes to treating patients suffering from severe, chronic pain, age is a very important factor. Dr. Pamela Pierce Palmer, director of the University of California , San Francisco Pain Management Center , found that older patients can safely and effectively be treated with opioid pain medications with little risk of seeking ever-increasing doses. But younger patients were found to want to rapidly up their doses.

Palmer: When I started this study, my main goal was to point out the problem of giving opiates to young people because what we found was there was no long-term benefit in pain relief, even though they escalated sometimes to well over half a gram a day of opiates.

Narrator: Palmer then discovered that elderly patients in pain did not have to escalate to very high doses of opiates and in fact, they had long-term benefit.

Palmer: If we can find those key molecules that make the difference, we can target them and maybe make morphine last longer and better for a twenty-five year old.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.