Friday, December 31, 2004

Health Headlines - December 31

Disease Next as Tsunami Toll Rises, Experts Say

Diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever, and even meningitis and flu may be waiting to cause a second wave of misery across Indian Ocean coastal areas devastated by Sunday's tsunami, experts said on Thursday.

Men Prefer Subordinate Women to Equals

Men would rather marry their female assistants than equal-ranking women or their supervisors, according to social psychologists.

Evening Shift Ups Risk of Gastrointestinal Ills

People who work from mid-afternoon into the wee hours of the night are liable to develop problems such as heartburn, stomach ulcers and constipation, new research shows.

WHO Warns of Fresh Bird Flu Outbreaks in Vietnam

Vietnam may face fresh outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus next month as poultry is transported around the country ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in February, the World Health Organization said.

Celebrex Prescriptions Plunge After Risk Found

New prescriptions for Pfizer Inc.'s arthritis drug Celebrex fell 56 percent last week after the company released data showing the drug may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to Verispan, a market research company.

Smoking During Pregnancy Raises Diabetes Risk

Pregnant women who smoke face a higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy -- a condition known as gestational diabetes -- according to a new study.

Moderate Therapy OK for Some Bladder Cancers

Once bladder cancer invades surrounding muscles, surgical removal of the bladder -- radical cystectomy -- is usually deemed necessary. However, if the disease has not spread to other areas of the body, this can sometimes be avoided, according to Italian researchers.

They say an option is to cut out just the diseased area of the bladder, and follow this with extended chemotherapy and radiation.

Men Still Worry After 'All Clear' Prostate Biopsy

Men who undergo a prostate biopsy because they've had a suspicious screening test result and then are given the good news that the biopsy is negative continue to worry about developing the cancer, study findings show.

Cipro-Resistant Gonorrhea on the Rise

In Hawaii, the proportion of cases of gonorrhea that are resistant to treatment with the antibiotic Cipro increased nearly sevenfold between 1997 and 2000, new findings show.

Sex Education Gets Party Treatment in West Africa

A day after the rest of the world marked World Aids Day on December 1, the Love Life Caravan blasted its way into the remote border outpost of Noe between Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Obesity Rising Among U.S. Preschoolers

The obesity epidemic is reaching down to the sandbox: More than 10 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 5 are overweight, the American Heart Association reported Thursday.

Study: Fast Food Contributes to Obesity

A new study gives scientific clout to a conclusion many already see as obvious: Eating lots of fast food makes you fat and increases the chance of developing diabetes.

Experts Warn of Misjudging Health Dangers

Some public health experts watching the aftermath of the tsunami disaster fear the outpouring of emergency relief supplies and the rush to head off outbreaks of disease will prove misguided or wasteful in some respects.

WHO: 5M in Tsunami Region Lack Supplies

Up to five million people in the tsunami-struck Indian Ocean region lack access to the basic supplies they need to stay alive, such as clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and health care, the United Nations health agency said Thursday.

Some Wireless Devices Safe Near Pacemakers

Electronic health record devices don't interfere with heart pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, says a new Mayo Clinic study.

Surgery Helps Relieve Migraines

Surgical treatment of migraine reduced missed work days by 73 percent and significantly lowered the annual cost of migraine care for patients.

Mexican-Americans Have Higher Stroke Rates

Mexican-Americans have about a 20 percent higher risk of stroke than do non-Hispanic whites, claims a new update on stroke and heart disease from the American Heart Association.

Vioxx, Celebrex Furor Tops Health News for '04

For years, Americans turned to the blockbuster drugs Vioxx and Celebrex for relief from chronic pain. But as 2004 ends, Vioxx is no longer on the market and the future of Celebrex remains unclear.

More Kids at Risk for Future Heart Trouble

More kids are heading toward heart trouble, the American Heart Association reported Thursday in its annual assessment of cardiovascular disease, the top killer in the United States.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Health Headlines - December 30

Job May Affect Chances of Surviving After a Stroke

After having a stroke, people with lower incomes and blue-collar jobs seem to be more likely to die in the next year or two than those with higher incomes and white-collar jobs -- regardless of the severity of the stroke -- according to a new study.

Breakups Can Be Mapped in the Brain

Women who are distraught after breaking up with a romantic partner show brain changes that are not seen in women less upset by a romantic rift, researchers report.

If Parents Think Kids Will Drink, They Likely Will

Parents who believe their young teen is likely to drink excessively may prompt him or her to adopt drinking behaviors that mirror those negative expectations, according to a study from Iowa State University.

Plastic Wrapping Help Preemies Stay Warm

Polyethylene wrapping can help prevent heat loss by very premature infants when they're born, a Canadian group of researchers report.

Kids' Sleep Disorders Linked with Problem Behavior

Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with higher rates of behavioral problems in children, researchers report.

New Drug Approved for Childhood Leukemia

Genzyme Corp. announced Wednesday that its drug Clolar has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of children with difficult or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Stress Accelerates Experimental Skin Cancer

Mice exposed to stress and ultraviolet radiation develop skin cancer significantly faster than do animals exposed to radiation only, researchers have found. They suggest this may be relevant to people at high risk of skin cancer.

West Nile Vaccine Produces Immunity in Mice

Mice injected with a purified structural protein from the West Nile virus (WNV) develop immunity against infection, new research shows.

Vietnam Finds New Case of Human Bird Flu

A 16-year-old Vietnamese girl has been infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus and her condition is stable, a doctor said on Thursday.

Study: 1 in 5 Young People Drink and Drive

More than four million people younger under age 21 drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol last year, according to a government report released Wednesday. That's one in five of all Americans aged 16 to 20.

Group: Bodies Pose No Threat of Outbreaks

Dead bodies cannot cause disease outbreaks, the Pan American Health Organization said Wednesday, hoping to avert mass burials of tens of thousands of unidentified victims from the tsunami in Asia and Africa.

FDA Sends Drug Company Warning Letter

The Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to Novartis Animal Health U.S., Inc. because of what federal officials say were late reports on the death of cats being tested with a new painkilling drug.

Family Sues for Woman Over AIDS Drug

The family of a pregnant woman who died while taking experimental AIDS drugs to protect her baby from getting the disease is suing the doctors, drug makers and hospitals involved in the study for $10 million.

Va. Surrogate, 55, Awe-Struck at Triplets

A 55-year-old woman who gave birth to triplets for a daughter who was medically unable to conceive said Wednesday she was "a caring incubator" and was awe-struck when she learned she was carrying three children.

FDA Approves New Drug for Severe Pain

Patients who suffer severe chronic pain and are no longer helped by morphine will soon have a new option.

Study Urges End to Racial Gap in Health Care

Correcting racial disparities in health care would save five times as many lives as would advances in medical technology, says a study in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Recognizing Movement in the Mind's Eye

An area of the brain that responds to actions we watch, such as the movement of a dancer, reacts differently in people who are skilled at doing the same movement than in other people.

Migraine Sufferers Report More Angina

People who suffer from migraines or other long-lasting headaches are more likely to have angina, but don't have an increased risk of heart disease, says a study in the Dec. 28 issue of the journal Neurology.

Breast Implants Should Be Adult Matter

Cosmetic breast augmentation should be restricted to women aged 18 and older, says a new policy adopted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Exercise Cuts Heart, Diabetes Risk Factors

Regular exercise can reduce the incidence of a deadly combination of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes in middle-aged and older people.

Excess Weight Can Compromise Birth Control Pills

Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to get pregnant while taking birth control pills than women of normal weight are, new research finds.

Death toll in south Asia could rise above 100,000

The death toll in the tidal wave disaster around the Indian Ocean could rise above 100,000 once outlying islands of India are fully checked, a senior international Red Cross official said.

Cholera, malaria, typhoid biggest disease threats

Cholera, malaria and typhoid are the worst diseases stalking the survivors of Asias tsunami calamity and the weapons against them are clean water and sanitation, relief agencies say.

"Millions" at risk of waterborne disease in South Asia

Millions of people will be at risk of disease unless there is immediate action to provide clean water in communities hit by tidal waves in South Asia, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned.

U.S. health authorities approve new ziconotide analgesic

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ziconotide intrathecal infusion, a new, powerful analgesic for the management of severe chronic pain in patients intolerant of other treatments such as morphine.

U.S. woman, 55, gives birth to three grandchildren for daughter

A 55-year-old American woman gave birth in Richmond, Virginia, to three genetic baby grandchildren, for her adult daughter who was unable, hospital officials said.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Health Headlines - December 29

UN Says Post-Tsunami Disease Could Kill Thousands

Disease could double the death toll from the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean region at the weekend, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday.

Working While Ill Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Men who never take a sick day even though they're not in good health may be setting themselves up for a heart attack, according to a new study.

Wealthy School Systems More Likely to Spot Autism

Children with signs of autism are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder in wealthier school districts, results of a new study show.

Diabetes Drugs Might Treat Multiple Myeloma

In the lab, multiple myeloma cells are killed by drugs similar to existing anti-diabetes drugs like Avandia or Actos, according to researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York.

Gay and Straight Men Alike in Body Image Hang-Ups

Both gay and heterosexual men are equally likely to aspire to an unattainable body type, or to harbor a distorted image of their actual body, new research indicates.

Drug Improves Symptoms of Diabetic Nerve Damage

People with diabetes are prone to develop nerve damage that causes numbness, tingling or pain -- which may reduce awareness of skin damage and lead to serious infections and ulcers. Now, a new drug may improve this situation, Japanese researchers report.

Dry, Cracked Hands May Be Dermatitis

Hands that are red, cracked, itchy or sore may be more than just a cold-weather problem with dry skin. It could be a sign of dermatitis, or eczema, according to the December issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Metapneumovirus an Emerging Cause of Kids' Illness

Human metapneumovirus was first identified as a cause of respiratory infection in 2001. It now appears to be infecting more and more children, Italian researchers report.

Quitting Smoking Quickly Benefits Heart Patients

Smokers with coronary heart disease who suffer a heart attack or severe angina, rapidly benefit from kicking the smoking habit, German investigators report.

'Watchful Waiting' OK for Some Prostate Cancers

New research shows that it's possible to identify men with slowly progressive or latent prostate cancer, reflected by prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels that remain stable or fall over time.

FDA Approves New Drug for Severe Pain

The government approved a drug Tuesday that offers a new way of fighting severe pain — an option for patients who no longer benefit from morphine and other traditional pain medications.

Cardiologist Calls for More FDA Power

The controversy over pain relievers' cardiovascular risks highlights the need to empower the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to demand drug companies conduct further tests on already-approved drugs, according to a prominent cardiologist.

Remarriage Turns Men Into Couch Potatoes

Men who remarry after a divorce or death of a spouse start packing on the pounds and cutting back on exercise, essentially letting themselves go, a new study finds.

Internal Clock Affects Heart Rhythm Patterns

In a scientific first, researchers have found that the body's internal clock, known as the circadian cycle, affects heart rate, independent of a person's sleep/wake cycle or other behavioral influences.

Light Technology Lends a Hand to Pap Test

Using a bright light technology called speculoscopy immediately after a Pap smear may help doctors detect more cervical lesions than the Pap test alone, says a review of three previous studies.

Faulty Gene Signaling Linked to Crohn's

Researchers have identified a faulty inflammatory signaling process that may lead to the development of Crohn's disease.

Virus Infecting Dogs Hardier Than Thought

Canine parvovirus, an organism that can sicken and kill dogs, has undergone epidemic-like growth since its appearance more than 25 years ago and is capable of doubling its population size every few years.

Tobacco Promotions Woo College Crowd

Tobacco companies often give away cigarettes at college bars and campus social events, a new Harvard survey found. And undergraduates who take advantage of the giveaways are three times more likely to start smoking.

Under-age drinking has killed hundreds of Australian teens

Under-age drinking led to the deaths of more than 500 Australian teenagers in the decade leading up to 2002, according to a new university study.

Blind American girl, 7, sues pharmaceutical giant Johnson&Johnson

A seven-year-old girl sued US pharmaceutical giant Johnson&Johnson, claiming it failed to warn of a possible allergic reaction to a children's drug that left her blind.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Health Headlines - December 28

Staying Active Keeps Mind Sharp in Old Age

People who stay just as active after age 70 as they did before are less likely to experience age-related declines in mental functioning, new study findings suggest.

Depression Often Afflicts Heart Failure Sufferers

About 1 in 5 people suffering from heart failure become clinically depressed, and four factors seem to increase the risk, researchers reports.

Religious Affiliation May Lower Suicide Risk

Depressed men and women who consider themselves affiliated with a religion are less likely to attempt suicide than their non-religious counterparts, according to new study findings.

Cancer Outcome Good at Regular High-Volume Centers

In the long run, survival after cancer surgery appears to differ little at hospitals designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as "centers of excellence" compared with other high-volume hospitals, according to a new report.

Twice-Daily Insulin Not Ideal for Diabetic Kids

For preschool children with type 1 diabetes, twice-daily insulin injections do not adequately control blood sugar levels, researchers report. They found these kids had frequent and prolonged episodes of either low or high blood sugar.

Antioxidants May Help Kids with Leukemia

Children being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seem more able to deal with their treatment if their levels of antioxidants don't drop too much, new study findings suggest.

Many Poor Women Uninformed About Cancer Screening

According to a survey of low-income, rural women over age 40, nearly 7 out of 10 say their physicians have never prompted them to get a mammogram.

HPV Prevalent in Sexually Active Teenage Girls

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is linked to an increased risk of developing cervical cancer, is "extremely common" in sexually active adolescent women in the US, a new study shows.

PSA After Prostate Surgery Not Always Ominous

Men with prostate cancer who undergo removal of the prostate (i.e., radical prostatectomy) hope to see their PSA fall to zero, but sometimes it remains detectable in their blood. This isn't a good sign, but it bodes worse for some men than others.

UN Warns of Possible Epidemics in Quake-Hit Asia

The United Nations warned on Monday of epidemics within days unless health systems in southern Asia can cope after more than 15,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless by a giant tsunami.

FDA OKs Ecstasy Study in Cancer Patients

The illegal club drug Ecstasy can trigger euphoria among the dance club set, but can it ease the debilitating anxiety that cancer patients feel as they face their final days?

Mice Study May Help Human Depression

Mice whose brains lack a specific protein react differently to stress than other mice, possibly offering a clue into the source of human depression, researchers at Washington University said in a study released Monday.

Los Alamos Lab Works on Models of Tumors

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on biological and computer models of cancerous tumors, hoping to help doctors create better methods to remove tumors from patients.

French 'Urban Gymnastics' Gaining Devotees

To devotees of a French-born extreme sport known as parkour, that park bench you jog past every day is much more than just a seat.

False Memories May Work as Diet Aid

Raising the prospect of weight loss through mind control, researchers report they may have successfully planted false memories about bad food experiences into the minds of ordinary people.

Novel Way to Rid Body of Toxins Found

A cut in calorie intake combined with consuming the "fake fat" product olestra seems to help boost the body's ability to get rid of toxins such as PCBs and dioxin.

Time Means Money in the ER

U.S. hospitals could greatly increase their revenue and offset losses from providing charity care by moving admitted emergency room patients into hospital beds more quickly.

Protein Fuels Melanoma's Growth

A protein that plays a critical role in the growth of the deadly skin cancer melanoma has been identified by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston.

Health Tip: The Dangers of Meth

Methamphetamine abuse is a dangerous, yet growing practice. So it's important for parents to discuss the problem with their children, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says.

Health Tip: Exercise OK During Pregnancy

So you're going to be a mom. While you're thinking about what life has in store, getting some exercise may be the last thing on your mind. But exercise can help make your pregnancy easier, the American Council on Exercise says.

Patient Protection Laws Don't Favor Providers

Contrary to what critics contend, patients' bill of rights laws don't favor health-care providers, says a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

New Migraine Guidelines for Children Released

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe and effective for treating migraines in children and adolescents, says a new practice guideline issued by the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

Drug-Eluting Stents Work for Restenosis

Drug-eluting stents greatly reduce the risk that arteries will renarrow in patients with in-stent restinosis -- artery narrowing caused by scar tissue -- according to a German study.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Health Headlines - December 27

Breakfast Cart Lets Students Avoid Stigma

It's not just OK for students to eat on the run when they arrive at a middle school here each morning. It's encouraged. The program makes it easier for kids squeezed for time to squeeze in breakfast. And it removes the stigma that if you eat breakfast in the school cafeteria, you must be poor.

Child Heart Surgeon Drummond-Webb Dies

Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb, a heart surgeon whose work was the focus of a four-part television series and who successfully implanted a life-saving miniature heart pump in a child, was found dead Sunday of a suicide. He was 45.

Students Recruited to Be Country Doctors

Wanted: small-town students who want to become country doctors. Tulane University is mounting an effort to bring more doctors to underserved rural Louisiana.

Dodge Winter Sports Injuries

Skiing and snowboarding are fast, exciting and exhilarating, but this doesn't mean they have to be dangerous.

Take a few tips from the pros on how to stay safe during the winter snow season:

  • Get into shape before you hit the slopes. You'll have more fun and less risk of injury.

  • Make sure you have good equipment that suits your height and skill level. Boots and bindings should be snug and comfortable, says the National Safety Council. Bindings should be checked regularly by a professional.

  • Take a lesson before hitting the slopes, advises the National Ski Patrol.

  • Dress warmly and in layers, making sure you have a headband or hat as well as gloves or mittens. Wear brightly colored clothing that can be seen at a distance and choose outerwear made of fabric that will reduce sliding after a fall and which is water-resistant, the National Safety Council advises.

  • Don't drink and ski; don't drink and snowboard.

  • Wear sun block. The sun's burning rays reflect off the snow and can give you a mighty burn.

  • When skiing or snowboarding downhill, give moving skiers and snowboards below the right of way, says the National Safety Council. You can see them better than they can see you.

  • Look both ways and uphill before crossing a trail, merging or starting down the hill.

Chocolate: A Boon for the Libido and the Heart

Chocolate. It's on everyone's wish list. And for good reason.

There's something about chocolate, something beyond tactile taste that is indefinable, ineffable and inexpressible.

And as the medical reviews keep coming in, there's evidence that chocolate may meet a variety of needs, from the libido to the heart.

The most recent finding has an Italian researcher saying he has found an association between eating chocolate and sexual fulfillment. Women who love chocolate, he says, seem to have better love lives. And that comes on top of earlier research that chocolate -- at least dark chocolate -- may be good for your heart.

Chocolate seems to straddle the line between a food and a beneficial medicine. Even the conventional wisdom that chocolate is related to acne has been challenged. Its chemical properties are complicated. Chocolate contains more than 300 substances, including caffeine in small quantities, and theobromine, a weaker stimulant. Some contend that these two chemicals form the basis of the much-touted chocolate high, postulating that they increase activity of key neurotransmitters. The stimulant phenylethylamine, which is related chemically to amphetamines, is also in chocolate.

Chocolate seems to make the mood more fulfilling, said Dr. Andrea Salonia, an Italian researcher, who was to report on the link he found between satisfying sex and chocolate at the annual meeting of the European Society for Sexual Medicine in December in London.

Salonia's group at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan had 153 women fill out standard female sexual function questionnaires, among other lifestyle and psychological indices. The women were between 26 and 44 years old, with a median age of 35. It turned out that 120 women, average age 35, reported they ate chocolate frequently, compared with 33 women whose average age was 40.4.

Both overall sexual function and sexual desire were significantly greater among the chocolate-eaters than among those in the older group who were more likely to spurn chocolate, said Salonia.

Calling it "an intriguing correlation," Salonia indicated nevertheless that dalliance between chocolate and sex was far from a sure thing. "It seems alluring to hypothesize that chocolate can have a physiological positive impact over women's sexuality." But he added that the age difference, an important factor in sexuality, was also significant between the groups.

The Italian study merely adds a new chapter to the history of chocolate. It's loaded with myths and legends and unsubstantiated claims. One of those myths is that chocolate can contribute to acne, according to two seminal studies. The National Institutes of Health now states that "despite the popular belief that chocolate, nuts and other foods cause acne, this does not seem to be true."

In one of the studies, at the University of Pennsylvania, a group of acne patients was given a bar of "chocolate" liquor (the substance that's the base for all chocolate products) resembling a chocolate bar and had 28 percent vegetable fat to imitate the fat content of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. Another group got real chocolate in a test bar with almost 10 times as much chocolate liquor as a normal 1.4 ounce bar. The acne neither improved nor worsened with chocolate or placebo.

In the other study, 80 midshipmen with acne at the U.S. Naval Academy were divided into chocolate abstainers and chocolate-eaters. After a month, careful observation showed no changes in their acne.

Finally, a recent small clinical study of the effects of the substance in rich dark chocolate known as flavonoids has been shown to improve indicators of a healthy heart, seen both by ultrasound measurements and blood levels. Other researchers have pointed to high levels of chemicals in chocolate known as phenolics, also found in red wine, as antioxidants that might help prevent coronary heart disease.

India to curb export of cheap copycat generic drugs

India enters the new year committed to effectively curbing its role as prime world exporter of cheap generic drugs, whose availability is seen as vital to helping the world's poorest sufferers.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Health Headlines - December 26

West Nile Continued Heading West in 2004

West Nile virus, an-encephalitis-like illness carried through the bite of mosquitoes, was the scourge of America's east coast a few short years ago. Deaths in double digits were common in New York, New Jersey and other northeastern states.

But the disease migrated quickly, and the number of recorded cases in states like New York plummeted this past year, according to the Associated Press.

In just one year -- between 2003 and 2004 -- the number of reported human cases in New York dropped from 71 to 10. The number of deaths was even more dramatic. In 2003, 11 people in New York died from West Nile, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2004, there were no deaths attributed to the disease. And there was good news throughout the Northeast. Massachusetts didn't even have a reported human case of West Nile in 2004.

But on the West Coast, the West Nile virus cases recorded the opposite numbers. CDC statistics show that California reported only three cases and no deaths in 2003, but it had 760 cases and 23 deaths in 2004. The state hardest hit in 2003 was Colorado, with 63 deaths out of 2,947 cases reported.

It does appear that West Nile's mortality rate is dropping dramatically. According to the CDC, there were 87 deaths nationwide in 2004 compared to 264 deaths in 2003.

Heart Boy Goes Home for Christmas

A 14-year-old Arkansas boy, the first child to receive a new heart after relying on a newly developed miniature heart pump, is home for Christmas.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Travis Marcus of Cabot had several operations since birth. His parents took him to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock Sept. 5 for a routine procedure, but learned he had developed severe problems. The boy was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine and also placed on a transplant list. But doctors said the bypass machine damages a patient's organs and increases the risk of stroke and bleeding, according to the Associated Press.

Doctors then decided to implant the miniature pump -- the DeBakey Child Ventricular Assist Device, a 1-by-3-inch, 4-ounce device that fits inside the patient's chest and is powered by an external battery pack. It was developed by 96-year-old Houston heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, considered the father of modern cardiovascular surgery. It had been used in only one other child -- a 6-year-old Texas girl who died in April before she could receive a transplant.

DeBakey flew to Little Rock to visit Travis and his family as Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb implanted the device Sept. 16. Two months later, Travis got a new heart. On Thursday, he left the hospital and was planning to help his sister bake Christmas cookies at home.

Wanted: A Few Good ... Hollywood Techies

Military medicine professionals want to take advantage of high tech virtuosity, and they're doing it in real time.

The Associated Press reports that The U.S. Army is particularly interested in all the motion picture special graphic effects enhanced by computer technology. They could be used for combat medic training, according to Dr. Greg Mogel, West Coast director of the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. "When a character in a video game or movie is killed ... the graphics they use to show what that wound would look like is absolutely something we need to expose all health care workers to," he told the wire service.

While the Army is looking to strengthen alliances with Hollywood, the U.S. Navy has begun a program to create a emergency medical response enhanced by satellite and computer imaging.

The A.P. reports that the U.S. Office of Naval Research has started to develop a "virtual doctor" as part of the First Responder Emergency Communications-Mobile (FREC-M), a program that may some day save lives on the battlefield.

Using a maritime satellite, the FREC-M can transmit photographic images and vital life sign data from the ambulance during combat to a hospital or trauma center, and doctors there can instruct medics on the proper measures to take.

The FREC-M has yet to be field-tested, the wire service says.

BIll Clinton Special Visitor at Heart Center

The last time former President Bill Clinton was in the Westchester County, N.Y. Medical Center was last September for a test that literally changed his life.

Clinton, who had been complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain, was tested by Dr. Anthony Pucillo, who determined that he had severe artery blockage. Clinton, whose Chappaqua home is not far from the medical center, was rushed to Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in New York City, where he had quadruple bypass surgery a few days later.

Clinton returned to the Westchester Medical Center Dec. 23 to dedicate a new cardiac catheterization unit run by Pucillo.

"I was really delighted to walk in here instead of coming in a wheelchair and I'm even more delighted to be able to walk out," the Associated Press quotes him as saying.

The wire service reports Pucillo as telling Clinton that the publicity about his illness "contributed to more awareness of the importance and value of diagnosis and treatment among the general public." And the former president responded, "This may have done more to affect as many people as almost anything I did when I was president."

Medicare Will Pay for Smokers' Counseling

The U.S. government, apparently seeing more benefit in prevention than treatment, has announced that the Medicare program will pay for counseling to help people quit smoking.

Most of those who will be eligible for the counseling include older Medicare beneficiaries who smoke and have smoking-related diseases or take certain medications, the Associated Press reported.

The coverage for the counseling will begin no later than the end of March 2005. Medicare will cover the cost of up to four counseling sessions for smokers. If that isn't effective, Medicare may pay for a second round of counseling.

Many patient advocates and health care providers applauded the decision, although some wanted more extensive coverage that would cover the cost of nicotine-replacement programs and some prescription drugs.

"Quitting is hard, but counseling is a proven means of helping smokers succeed. It's cost effective and can double the chances of success," John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, told the AP.

Bayer Pulls Plug on Clinical Trial for Stroke Drug

Pharmaceutical firm Bayer has pulled out of a clinical trial for the drug Repinotan, designed to treat stroke patients.

The company said the decision was made because the results of a recently completed Phase IIb clinical trial of the drug fell short of expectations, Agence France-Presse reported.

However, Bayer isn't going to give up on Repinotan, which belongs to the neuroprotectant class of drugs.

"While ending the development of Repinotan in strokes, we are still considering other options for the future of the compound," said a company statement.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Health Headlines - December 25

Merry Christmas!

Most Over-40s Engage in Sex, But Problems Common

A global survey of sex behavior after age 40 reveals that most people continue to have sex. However, aging romantics tend to encounter problems in their lovemaking.

Treating Childhood Anxiety Prevents Adult Disorders

Panic disorders, phobias and other childhood anxiety conditions should be treated during childhood so that they won't be carried over into adulthood, according to advice in the latest Harvard Mental Health Letter.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis May Not Affect Job

Contrary to some beliefs, women who return to work after being diagnosed with breast cancer are not typically demoted or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace, new study findings show.

Mifepristone Effective as 'Morning After' Pill

When taken within five days after unprotected sex, mifepristone works as well for emergency contraception as the approved drug levonorgestrel, UK researchers report.

Anesthetic Gel Eases Injection Pain for Kids

Applying a topical anesthetic half an hour beforehand reduces pain for children getting a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot, according to a report by Canadian researchers.

Diabetes Raises Mortality After Coronary Bypass

People with type 2 diabetes have a higher likelihood of dying shortly after undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery, even when a number of risk factors are taken into account, new study results indicate.

PEG Helps Speed Spine Healing in Dogs

Dogs with severe accidental spinal cord injuries resulting in complete paralysis, appear to recover more quickly and completely when they're given injections of polyethylene glycol (PEG), investigators report.

Increased Arthritis Pain May Be Due to Fracture

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have an increase in pain at a single site could be suffering from a stress fracture, especially if they have a history of steroid use, UK researchers report in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Pimecrolimus Cream Quickly Eases Eczema in Infants

Pimecrolimus cream provides rapid relief of symptoms and helps promote sleep in young children with eczema, German researchers report.

U.S. Doctors Lack Whistleblower Protection

Thousands of federal doctors and medical researchers who receive some of the highest salaries in government don't enjoy the same protections to blow the whistle on wrongdoing as other civil servants, a judge has ruled.

Ambulances May Get Virtual Doctors

Researchers are developing technology for ambulances to improve communications and perhaps more importantly, place virtual doctors inside in transit.

Doctor Accused of Flouting Abortion Ruling

A doctor whose license was revoked for botching abortions, including leaving fetus parts inside a patient, was arrested on charges he continued to perform the procedures.

Blood in Short Supply During Holidays

In the spirit of holiday giving, you might consider donating blood.

FDA Orders Broad Spectrum Review of Painkiller Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will review all prevention trials involving the prescription pain medications Celebrex and Bextra. These drugs are part of a category of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Health Headlines - December 24

Alcohol May Boost HIV Risk from Oral Sex

Lab experiments show that cells that line the mouth become more susceptible to infection with HIV when they're exposed to alcohol.

FDA Urges Limited Use of Pfizer's Celebrex, Bextra

U.S. health officials on Thursday called on doctors to limit prescribing Pfizer Inc. painkillers Celebrex and Bextra in light of recent evidence that they may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Women Doctors at Heightened Risk for Suicide

Physicians -- especially female physicians -- face a higher suicide risk than the general population, according to a new report.

DNA Stool Test Promising for Cancer Detection

A non-invasive test that detects mutated tumor DNA in feces may be a useful method of screening for colorectal cancer, according to new research findings.

Early Bronchiolitis Tied to Adult Lung Problems

Infants who come down with a respiratory virus infection that causes inflammation of the lungs -- a condition called bronchiolitis -- are more likely to have respiratory symptoms and asthma in adulthood than are those without such a history.

Substantial Bone Loss Seen with Depo-Provera Use

The results of a new study confirm that using the contraceptive Depo-Provera is associated with bone loss.

Night Shift Linked to Late Pregnancy Loss

Pregnant women who regularly work the night shift may have an increased risk of a miscarriage late in pregnancy or a stillbirth, a new study suggests.

Boy With New Heart Goes Home for Christmas

Giving a bear hug to his surgeon and a thumbs-up to other hospital staff, a 14-year-old boy went home for Christmas — the first child to receive a new heart after relying on a newly developed miniature heart pump.

Medicare to Help Smokers Kick the Habit

Medicare said Thursday it intends to pay for counseling to help some of the nation's 4 million older smokers kick the habit.

Government Approves First Genetic Lab Test

Doctors can check patients' DNA when choosing medication for them, using a test the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it has approved.

Money Problems Leading Cause of Holiday Stress

Money problems are the leading cause of holiday stress for Americans, says a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Health Tip: Clogged Sinuses

You're coughing, tired, and achy. You think you might be getting a cold, but cold medicines aren't working and now you've got a splitting headache. You head to your doctor and are told you have sinusitis.

Health Tip: Recognizing Tourette Syndrome

If you hear someone shouting in the grocery store, it may not be because they're hard of hearing; they may have a neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome (TS).

A Pill to Prevent AIDS?

Over the next few months, officials in two U.S. cities and several other countries will begin testing whether a popular AIDS drug can protect healthy people against HIV infection.

Breast Implants Don't Hurt Survival of Mastectomy Patients

The long-term survival of breast cancer patients isn't reduced when they receive breast reconstruction with implants after mastectomy.

Celebrating 50 Years of Organ Transplantation

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Joseph E. Murray led a team of surgeons at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital -- now Brigham and Women's Hospital -- that gave Richard Herrick a second shot at life.

Gray Hair Shares Genetic Root With Melanoma

A cure for cancer and a cure for gray hair may not be equally urgent benefits for mankind, but scientists are reporting a discovery that could lead to both.

South Korea to allow cloning of human cells

A law allowing the cloning of human cells has cleared the final hurdle in South Korea, giving legal backing to controversial genetic research aimed at fighting incurable diseases, officials said.

Vietnam reports bird flu in six provinces, 11,000 birds destroyed

Outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in six provinces in Vietnam and 11,000 birds have been culled to try to contain the disease, which has killed 20 humans here since last year, authorities said.

Swedish study says surgery best way to cut the fat

Gastric surgery is a more effective way to fight severe obesity than dieting, according to a Swedish study.

Bayer abandons clinical trials of new anti-stroke treatment

German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer said it had decided to pull out of clinical testing of Repinotan, a compound used to treat stroke patients, because the drug had not lived up to expectations.

Household chemical products linked to child asthma

Ordinary household products like bleach, carpet cleaners and paint strippers can cause asthma in children.

Canadian lawsuit launched against Pfizer

A Canadian law firm has launched a 1.5 billion dollar (1.2 billion US) class action lawsuit against US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on behalf of a woman who claims she had heart problems after taking Celebrex.

Japan confirms first human bird flu infection, bans SKorean imports

Japan confirmed its first human case of bird flu and said four other people were suspected of catching the disease which has gripped Southeast Asia, but none of them have developed symptoms.

Anti-malaria fight hampered by drug shortage

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that shortage of a key anti-malaria drug is expected to last well into next year because of difficulty in obtaining a raw material from China.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

FDA Urges Limited Use of Pfizer's Celebrex, Bextra

WASHINGTON - U.S. health officials on Thursday called on doctors to limit prescribing Pfizer Inc. painkillers Celebrex and Bextra in light of recent evidence that they may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration described its health advisory as an interim step. Any additional action would require further evaluation of sometimes conflicting data and public discussion at an advisory meeting set for February.

"The actions that we're recommending in the advisory are for more limited prescribing than would currently be included in the approved labeling for these products," John Jenkins, director of the FDA's Office of New Drugs, told reporters on a conference call.

The FDA said doctors should weigh the benefits and risks for individual patients. The agency also ordered a review of all prevention studies involving Celebrex and Bextra.

Individuals vulnerable to gastric bleeding associated with older painkillers may still be appropriate candidates for COX-2 drugs that include Celebrex and Bextra, the FDA said.

Pfizer said it was providing the FDA with extensive safety and effectiveness data for Celebrex and Bextra.

"The U.S. FDA Advisory Committee Hearing in February is the appropriate forum for a thorough review of all available data evaluating the benefits and risks of medicines used by millions of Americans to treat arthritis and joint pain," Pfizer said.

The FDA action follows a recent series of warnings of increased heart attacks and strokes connected to both over-the-counter and prescription painkillers.

Merck & Co. Inc. withdrew its arthritis drug Vioxx in September after a study showed the painkiller doubled the chances of heart attack and stroke.

Pfizer has kept its similar medicine, Celebrex, on the market, but has agreed to suspend consumer advertising. Pfizer has also placed a note on its Bextra painkiller that warns of increased risk in patients who have just had heart bypass surgery.

And health officials warned on Monday of a risk of heart attack and stroke in over-the-counter naproxen, sold as a generic and as several brand names, including Bayer AG's Aleve, and as Roche AG's Naprosyn.


Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra are in a newer class of painkillers known as COX-2 inhibitors, designed to avoid the gastric bleeding associated with older drugs like aspirin.

But critics of the FDA said the only COX-2 drug showing clear gastric protection was the now-withdrawn Vioxx.

"Both Celebrex and Bextra are doomed drugs that are in the twilight of their existence," predicted Dr Sidney Wolfe, a frequent critic of FDA's drug safety monitoring and director of the consumer group Public Citizen's Health Research Group.

But Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles said the FDA was right to be cautious in judging COX-2s. "It shouldn't be overlooked that there are individuals who are at high risk for internal bleeding," Fonarow told Reuters.

The naproxen warning surprised some experts who had thought the painkiller might help protect the heart by preventing blood clots, in much the way aspirin does.

A now-canceled National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of anti-inflammatory drugs in patients at risk for Alzheimer's disease uncovered the higher heart risk for naproxen.

Celebrex showed no significant increase in heart risk in the Alzheimer's trial but had raised concerns in another NIH trial testing Celebrex for cancer prevention.

COX-2 inhibitors are a subset of a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen.

The FDA advised consumers taking non-prescription NSAIDs to strictly follow instructions on the label and consult a doctor if they need to take them for more than 10 days.

Pfizer stock fell initially on news of the FDA advisory but rebounded to close up 12 cents to $26.07 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

Health Headlines - December 23

Exercise Not Enough to Offset Obesity Health Risks

Regular exercise is not enough to offset the health problems associated with obesity -- but that shouldn't stop people who are overweight from working out, according to a study to be published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Weight Loss Surgery Has Lasting Benefits

Gastric bypass surgery and similar operations for severe obesity lead to long-term weight loss, and people who have undergone such a procedure have lower risks for heart disease and diabetes than conventionally treated individuals.

More Pregnancies, and False Alarms, in Winter

Sales of pregnancy tests typically soar in the first months of the year, as more women than usual tend to become pregnant -- or just think they are, according to Inverness Medical, the makers of the Clearblue Easy pregnancy tests.

Men with Prostate Cancer Can Stick to Low-Fat Diet

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, men are capable of adhering to a low-fat diet for at least a year if they receive good counseling and support, a new study shows.

Phone Makers Ask for More Research Into DNA Damage

Two of the world's top mobile phone makers said more research is needed into the potential for cell phone radiation to damage DNA, following a laboratory study by 12 European institutes which found harmful effects.

High Blood Sugar, as Well as Low, Slows the Mind

Many people with diabetes find that they become mentally and physically sluggish during periods when their blood sugar level rises in the course of their daily routines, investigators report.

Aspirin Underused by People with Diabetes

Daily aspirin is usually recommended for people at increased risk for heart disease, and people with diabetes come into that category. While the proportion of diabetic patients who take aspirin has increased in recent years in the US, new research indicates that some are still not doing so.

Novartis Says FDA OKs Treatment for Active Bladder

Drug maker Novartis AG on Wednesday said U.S. regulators approved its drug for the treatment of an overactive bladder.

Brain Area May Control Urge to Hoard

Researchers may have located the area in the brain that separates the stamp collectors from the pack rats.

FDA Says AstraZeneca Crestor Ad Is Misleading

A newspaper advertisement for AstraZeneca Plc's cholesterol drug Crestor that touts patient safety is misleading and should no longer be published, regulators warned in a letter released on Wednesday.

Sudafed Acts to Curb Meth Production

The maker of Sudafed is offering a new version of the cold and allergy medicine without an ingredient often used to produce the illegal and highly addictive drug methamphetamine in homemade labs.

DNA Test for Colon Cancer Disappoints

The first big trial of a DNA test to detect colon cancer proved disappointing to those hoping for an easy and accurate new screening method.

Japan Has First Case of Bird Flu in Human

Japan reported its first case of bird flu in a human on Wednesday — a man who got the disease from birds. Bird flu has swept through farms across Asia this year, forcing officials to cull more than 100 million birds.

Group Hopes to Fight Cancer With Recipes

A free new service from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) delivers delicious, healthy, and quick recipes right to your inbox. By signing up for AICR’s Health-e-Recipes, you can join the over 10,000 people who are already receiving a different innovative and nutritious recipe each week.

Governors Ask Bush Not to Cut Medicaid

The nation's governors on Wednesday urged President Bush not to shift additional Medicaid costs to the states in his effort to reduce the federal deficit.

Show Sensitivity to Older Relatives at Holiday Gatherings

Elderly people with impaired memory or behavioral problems may feel uncomfortable at large holiday family gatherings, but there are ways to include these people in such celebrations.

Is It Finally Time to Put Patients' Medical Records Online?

Although it has been a long time coming, physicians are beginning to consider the Internet an integral part of their practice.

U.S. Study Sees Little Benefit From Melatonin

A U.S. government review of more than 50 studies on the effect of melatonin on sleep has found little evidence that the supplement helps people drift off.

Witnesses to Abuse Suffer as Well

People who witness repeated physical or mental abuse suffered by others can experience levels of psychological and physiological stress comparable to that of the abuse victims.

Keep Homes Safe for Visiting Kids

Guns and poisonous materials are more likely to be improperly stored in homes where young children are only visitors, says a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

New Compound Could Enhance Chemotherapy

A new compound that could enhance chemotherapy treatments and reduce side effects has been created by Michigan State University researchers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Study Using Pain Reliever Aleve Halted

WASHINGTON - An Alzheimer's disease prevention trial was suspended after researchers said there were more heart attacks and strokes among patients taking naproxen, an over-the-counter pain reliever in use for 28 years and commonly known under the brand name Aleve.

The study, involving some 2,500 patients, was to test whether naproxen or Celebrex, both pain relievers, could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease among healthy elderly patients who were at an increased risk of the disease.

Officials at the National Institutes of Health said the study was suspended after three years when it was found that patients taking naproxen had a 50 percent greater incidence of cardiovascular events — heart attack or stroke — than patients taking placebo.

Another factor, officials said, was the announcement last week that advertising for Celebrex was being halted after a study found that high doses of the drug were associated with an increase in heart attack risk. Preliminary data from the Alzheimer's study, however, did not indicate an increased risk for heart attack or stroke for Celebrex, officials said.

Lester Crawford, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, acknowledged Tuesday that the conflicting studies are confusing and call for continued evaluation. For now, he recommended following the dosage recommendations for the drugs.

"Any drug taken long enough and at high enough dosage can cause some difficulty," Crawford said on NBC's "Today."

"It would be premature to say what we we're going to do with either one of these drugs, Celebrex or Aleve," he said. "However, we will keep all regulator options open and make some determinations as quickly as possible based on the data."

Celebrex, a prescription drug, and naproxen are both commonly used to treat the joint pain of arthritis. Naproxen has been approved for sale, first as a prescription and then as an over-the-counter drug, since 1976. Celebrex is in the same class — COX2 enzyme inhibitors — as Vioxx, an arthritis drug recently taken off the market by its manufacturer after it was linked to an increase in heart attack and stroke.

Officials acknowledged that the implications for the continued use of naproxen are not clear and will require further study.

Dr. Sandra Kweder of the FDA said the NIH study is the first to show that naproxen might increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and that the findings are "confusing." No immediate action, however, is expected toward naproxen, she said.

"We are not contemplating any specific regulatory action over the next few days," Kweder said. "We will be working with the NIH to try to understand the data better and determine what will be appropriate from there."

Patients who routinely take naproxen should follow the drug package instructions carefully, Kweder said, including the directions to not take it for more than 10 days, and to consult a doctor if pain persists.

Efforts to obtain reaction Monday night produced no answers at phone numbers for Bayer Healthcare, the maker of Aleve.

In the earlier studies of the COX2 drugs, an increase in cardiovascular events was noted only after a long-term use of the medications.

The Alzheimer's disease study was being conducted by the National Institute on Aging, an arm of the NIH. It called for 2,500 patients aged 70 or older and who had a family history of Alzheimer's, to take either Celebrex, naproxen or a placebo.

The group was divided and each division, or arm, was assigned to receive one of the drugs or placebo. The drugs were blinded, which means the patients did not know which medication they were taking, or if they were taking a placebo.

The goal was to determine if the pain-relieving drugs lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The study started three years ago and was to continue for a few more years. Officials said the patients in the study will be monitored for developing Alzheimer's or cognitive decline, but will not be given the test drugs.

Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said the study linking heart attack to Celebrex last week was a major factor in deciding to suspend the Alzheimer's study.

He said there was a question whether patients in the study would continue to take their medicine since they knew they might be taking Celebrex.

Suspending the study, Zerhouni said, "is the prudent thing to do."

John Breitner of the Veterans Affairs medical facility in Seattle and the University of Washington, an investigator in the trial, said only preliminary data is available. But he said it suggests that among the 2,500 patients in the study, about 70 suffered stroke or heart attack. There were 23 deaths. There were 50 percent more of the cardiovascular events among patients taking naproxen than among those taking placebo, he said.

In trading Tuesday, shares of Aleve's German manufacturer, Bayer AG, and Pfizer Inc., maker of Celebrex, were down. Pfizer shares have fallen more than 13 percent since the company announced Friday that a study had found that high doses of the drug were associated with an increase in heart attack risk.

Health Headlines - December 22

Smelling Citrus Oils Prevents Asthma in Rats

A key ingredient in the aroma from citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons appears to protect rats from the symptoms of asthma, new research shows.

Study Finds Genetic Link to Lung Cancer

Lung cancer appears to run in families, researchers said on Tuesday, though exposure to tobacco smoke is still the dominant cause of the disease even for those who may be genetically predisposed.

False Perception About Holidays and Dying

The common perception that terminally ill people try to hang on until after a major event like their birthday or a big holiday isn't true, according to a study published on Tuesday.

FDA: Options Open on Naproxen, Celebrex

The head of the U.S. drug safety agency on Tuesday said the United States was keeping "all regulatory options open" as it studied data showing increased heart risks from some painkillers.

Safe Drug Imports Would Be Difficult

Importing cheaper prescription medicines would require costly safety measures and save U.S. consumers little money, a government task force said on Tuesday in a report that lawmakers and others criticized as echoing drug industry scare tactics.

Poor Sleep in Late Pregnancy Tied to Tougher Labor

First-time mothers who get little sleep late in pregnancy may have a longer labor and higher odds of a cesarean section than women who are more well-rested, a new study suggests.

Knowing Metabolic Rate May Help Dieters

Devices that measure metabolic rate can tell dieters how many calories they need to eat each day to lose weight, according to experts.

Many Kids with ADHD Not Followed After Diagnosis

Children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are prescribed stimulant medication rarely receive optimal follow-up care, the results of a new study suggest.

Rare Pneumonia Found Among U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

A rare and sometimes deadly pneumonia has hit 18 U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq, and Army medical investigators are at a loss to explain the cause, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Asthma Therapy Compliance Poor in Many Patients

Despite the high risk of exacerbation and even death, high-risk patients discharged after asthma hospitalizations often prematurely stop using prescribed corticosteroids.

Diet Soda Could Soon Outsell Regular

Still think the cola wars are about Coke vs. Pepsi? These days the carbonated beverage battleground is diet vs. regular, and it's looking increasingly as though the lightweight could flatten its full-calorie cousin.

Teen Drug Use Down, but Inhalant Use Up

Fewer teenagers are smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs, but a survey released Tuesday shows a troubling increase in the use of inhalants by younger adolescents.

Study Using Pain Reliever Aleve Halted

An Alzheimer's disease prevention trial was suspended after researchers said there were more heart attacks and strokes among patients taking naproxen, an over-the-counter pain reliever in use for 28 years and commonly known under the brand name Aleve.

World's Tiniest Baby Doing Well in Chicago

A premature infant believed to be the smallest baby ever to survive was called "a great blessing" Tuesday by her mother, who is preparing to take the little girl and her twin sister home from the hospital.

Iodine deficiency still threatens two billion people worldwide

Two billion people worldwide do not consume enough iodine despite a 50 percent drop in the number of countries where iodine deficiency, which can cause brain damage, is a public health problem, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Health Headlines - December 21

Naproxen Risk Deals Third Blow to Pain Patients

U.S. health regulators warned on Monday of heart risks connected to over-the-counter painkiller naproxen, creating additional confusion over the safety of similar drugs after recent warnings for two other painkillers.

Analysts Bet Celebrex Won't Be Withdrawn

Some analysts are betting Pfizer Inc. won't have to withdraw its arthritis drug Celebrex but they do expect sales to fall after a study of the drug in cancer patients showed it increased the risk of heart attacks.

Exercise Before Fatty Meal May Curb Bad Effects

People gearing up for an indulgent holiday feast may want to make time for some pre-meal exercise. A small study out Monday suggests that a long walk before a fatty meal can lessen the effects of high fat intake on blood vessel function.

Acupuncture Improves Osteoarthritis, Trial Shows

Acupuncture added to conventional therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee improves function and reduces pain, according to a clinical trial conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Medicare HMOs Don't Show Hoped-For Savings

The costs of colon surgery for enrollees in Medicare health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are no lower than those of similar patients participating in traditional Medicare, according to Tampa-based researchers.

Bullying Hurts Kids with Hormone Disorders

Getting teased at school can be especially damaging to kids with endocrine problems, and may cause them to put their health at risk, according to new study findings.

Mobile Phone Radiation Harms DNA, New Study Finds

Radio waves from mobile phones harm body cells and damage DNA in laboratory conditions, according to a new study majority-funded by the European Union, researchers said on Monday.

Women, Latinos Not Getting Colon Cancer Tests

A survey of older Californians shows that many -- especially women and Latinos -- are not being screened for colorectal cancer as they should be.

Canadian Man Jailed for Role in E. Coli Outbreak

Two brothers involved in a deadly tainted-water scandal that killed seven people in the small Ontario town of Walkerton were sentenced on Monday, one to a term in jail and the other to house arrest.

Heart Group Urges Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

The American Heart Association has updated its 1993 guidelines on blood pressure (BP) measurement, putting more emphasis on home monitoring.

Companies Team Up for All-In-One HIV Pill

Two drug companies announced Monday they will collaborate on developing the first all-in-one, one-a-day pill to treat HIV infection — a long-sought goal that would make it much easier for patients to stick with their medication.

Study: Computer Records Bring Better Care

Health providers that adopt computerized records and tracking systems do a better job of getting patients the care they need, a study suggests.

Study: Acupuncture May Ease Arthritis Pain

The ancient Chinese therapy of acupuncture can help ease pain and improve movement for people with arthritis of the knee, a new study concludes.

New Menus Causing Calorie Sticker Shock

For the past year, many of the nation's chain restaurants have trumpeted their efforts to give consumers helpful details about the food they serve — from calories to carbs.

Baby Weighing 8.6 Oz. at Birth Doing Well

A baby who weighed less than a can of soda when she was born by Caesarean section three months ago is nearly ready to be released from the hospital. She is believed to be the smallest baby in the world ever to survive.

Hardee's Introduces New Chicken Sandwich

A month after debuting its Monster Thickburger, Hardee's is offering customers a new sandwich with 1,050 fewer calories and 103 fewer grams of fat.

Lung Cancer Linked to Gulf War Fires

Veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War exposed to pollution from oil well fires, exhausts and other sources may face an increased risk of lung cancer, a government advisory group reported Monday.

Experts Say Low-Carb Craze May Be Over

Americans appear to be losing their appetite for low-carb foods. After a glut of protein-heavy cookbooks and advertising in recent years, the latest diet trend may have run its course.

Waistline Can Be a Tummy Fat Warning

Measuring your waistline can help you determine if you have too much abdominal fat, which puts you at increased risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

Gleevec a Cost-Effective Treatment

The high price of the leukemia drug Gleevec is offset by the expected increase in survival rates among patients who take it, say two Duke University studies in the December issue of Cancer.

Embryonic Stem Cells Keep Heart Beating

Researchers say they have transformed embryonic stem cells into heart cells that could someday replace the electronic pacemakers now implanted to keep hearts beating normally.

Study Finds VA Health Care Improving

A new study finds that patients who use the Department of Veterans Affairs health system get better preventive care, particularly for chronic conditions, than patients in the private sector.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Health Headlines - December 20

Pfizer Suspends Celebrex Ads

Pfizer Inc. has agreed to suspend its advertisements for arthritis drug Celebrex while U.S. regulators review new data that link the drug to an elevated risk of heart attacks, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said on Sunday.

U.S. Regulator to Rule on Painkillers Soon

U.S. regulators have "serious concerns" about painkilling drugs in the class known as COX-2 inhibitors and are due to issue a new ruling on them within days, the Financial Times reported on its Web site on Sunday.

Facial Acupuncture Gaining Ground

Paula Scardamalia has pins in her face — nine tiny ones angling out near her eyes, mouth and jaw. The pins were poked in to tighten chin skin and erase lines on the 52-year-old woman's face.

Asthma Shouldn't Spoil Winter Fun

Falling temperatures can present a daunting challenge to even die-hard exercise enthusiasts, and they pose a special risk for people with asthma because cold air can trigger bronchial spasms.

Dec. 23 Is Anniversary of 1st Transplant

Fifty years ago, Ronald Herrick wasn't thinking about making medical history that would one day lead to saving countless lives. He just wanted to save one life — his brother's. He said it took him no time at all to agree to donate a kidney to his dying twin, Richard. But that 5 1/2-hour operation on Dec. 23, 1954, would not only keep Richard alive for eight more years, it would lead to thousands of kidney transplants and ultimately the transplant of other organs from the heart to the liver. Herrick's doctor would win a Nobel Prize.

More than 400,000 transplants have been performed in the United States since the first successful one 50 years ago at what's now known as Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. More than 25,000 occur each year in the United States.

"It was a start but they've done an awful lot of transplants since then," said Herrick, a soft-spoken man who accepts his place in the annals of medical breakthroughs but plays down his place in history.

Back in 1954, though, the surgery had not been done successfully and doctors were struggling to find a way to stop rejection of the transplanted organ that had claimed the lives of every other transplant recipient.

As the story goes, Ron Herrick told a doctor at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital he would gladly give up a kidney if it would help his brother, who was dying from chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys.

The doctor told him it wasn't possible, but then he had an idea: Since the Herricks were identical twins, the likelihood of the organ being rejected would be reduced. Maybe it was possible after all.

Richard Herrick was transferred to what was then Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, where extensive work on transplants was under way.

Dr. Joseph Murray, the lead surgeon who won the Nobel Prize in 1990, said he had prepared for two years for the operation, discovering that a transplanted kidney, in the absence of immune problems, can function.

"And then on our doorstep, we happened to have had identical twins," he told the New York Organ Donor Network, which coordinates organ and tissue donations in New York area. "One was dying of kidney disease, the other one was healthy. It was the perfect human setup for our laboratory model."

Before the surgery, the team made sure to do its homework. Murray even went so far as to have both brothers fingerprinted by the Boston Police Department to ensure that they were identical, not fraternal, twins.

Murray said there were more than medical issues to deal with. Back then, some had equated transplant attempts with desecration of the body, and religious leaders were kept abreast of developments, he said.

While most felt it was ethically acceptable to donate an organ, others "felt that we were playing God and that we shouldn't be doing all of these, quote, experiments on human beings," he told The Associated Press.

"We wanted everybody to know we were not doing anything frivolous or thoughtless," said Murray, who is 85 and is the last surviving member of the surgery team. "In other words, we didn't want to go out into the ballpark and try to hit a home run without doing any training."

It was days before Christmas. "White Christmas" starring Bing Crosby was playing at the movie theaters. Tunes like "Shake, Rattle and Roll" by Bill Haley and The Comets and "Mr. Sandman" by The Chordettes played on the radio.

And in the hospital, two brothers from Massachusetts soon became household names as news reporters learned of the fingerprints at the police station, leading to sensational headlines about the upcoming surgery.

Ron Herrick, now 73, said there was no deep anxiety on his part.

"We felt very strongly that it would work. Of course, it hadn't been done before. But they knew their research," he said.

Murray is a deeply spiritual man. His wife and children knelt in prayer the night before the historic surgery.

The ending was happy. Not only did Richard Herrick recover but he met his future wife in the recovery room.

Clare Herrick, the nursing supervisor in the 10-bed recovery room, volunteered on that Christmas weekend for one-on-one care for Richard Herrick because she was away from her home in Nova Scotia and had no holiday plans.

After his release from the hospital, Richard Herrick came calling. The couple married and had two children, one a teacher and the other a nurse at a kidney dialysis unit, said Herrick, 74, who now lives in Scarborough.

Richard Herrick enjoyed good health before developing problems in his new kidney that were unrelated to the surgery. With his health failing, he died on March, 14, 1963, at home in Shrewsbury, Mass., with Clare by his side.

"For God's sake, don't let me go back to the hospital," his wife recalls him saying. She remembers her husband as the happy-go-lucky brother, while Ron Herrick was quiet and more serious.

Clare Herrick never remarried: "I loved one guy in my life, and that was Richard. I just cherished the memories."

The year Herrick died, there were dozens of kidney transplants, and the success rate was high among identical twins. It would be years later, however, before doctors solved the problem of rejected organs.

Ron and his wife Cynthia, both teachers, later moved to Mount Vernon, and Ron Herrick taught at the University of Maine at Augusta. In 1997, the couple moved to the lakeside town of Belgrade, which looked like a Christmas movie set with a few inches of snow on the ground and ice glistening from tree branches as the 50th anniversary of the first transplant approached.

Clare Herrick also ended up in Maine after both daughters moved here. All three now live near each other in Scarborough.

Last May, Clare Herrick and Ron and Cynthia Herrick joined Murray and others during a celebratory dinner at Boston's Copley Plaza. Murray and Ron Herrick were given a standing ovation. Earlier this month, Ron and Cynthia Herrick were back in Boston, where they were honored during an anniversary observance at Brigham and Women's.

With the advent of anti-rejection drugs, organ transplants have become much more common.

Nearly a decade after the groundbreaking kidney transplant came the first liver transplant. Then in 1967, the first heart transplant. Anti-rejection drugs have helped to boost the numbers.

Of the 329,999 transplants that have been performed since a registry was established in 1987, about two-thirds have involved kidneys, said Ellie Schlam of the National Kidney Foundation.

Despite his own health problems, Ron Herrick keeps busy. Last summer, he made a pitch for organ donation when he spoke at the annual Transplant Games in Minneapolis.

Herrick would like to see more people authorize organ donations on their driver's licenses. The National Kidney Foundation says more than 85,000 Americans are on a waiting list for organs.

As for Murray, who lives in Wellesley, Mass., he believes that the first transplant leaves lessons as policy makers grapple with modern medical issues like stem cell research.

"The use of stem cells is an indication of mankind's innate sense of curiosity, and we shouldn't stifle it at all," he said.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Health Headlines - December 19

Five People in Japan May Have Bird Flu Virus

Five people in Japan may have been infected with the bird flu virus after an outbreak among chickens in February, but there is no risk they will develop symptoms and no chance of more infections, the government said on Saturday.

Singaporeans Risk Fines in Drive Against Dengue Fever

Singapore is to fine people who allow mosquitoes to breed in their homes in a bid to curb dengue fever, a sometimes fatal disease that has soared to a 10-year high in the island-state.

Vets Still Compensated for Dioxin Exposure

The United States sprayed more than 19 million gallons of defoliant over the jungles of Vietnam, a tactic designed to kill the forests and deny cover to the enemy. The chemical worked. Miles of vegetation withered and died. It also exposed an estimated 3 million U.S. troops and millions more Vietnamese to dioxin, the same toxic chemical reportedly used to poison Viktor Yushchenko, a candidate in the disputed presidential election in the Ukraine.

Poll Shows Seniors Back Medical Marijuana

Nearly three-fourths of older Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for the nation's largest advocacy group for seniors.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Health Headlines - December 18

U.S. Expands Group Recommended for Flu Vaccine

U.S. officials who just weeks ago worried that the nation's flu shot supply would run short said on Friday they are expanding the group of people who should get the vaccine so that doses do not go to waste.

Pfizer's Celebrex Lifts Heart Attack Risk in Trial

Pfizer Inc. on Friday said its popular Celebrex arthritis drug more than doubled the risk of heart attack in a large cancer-prevention trial, a setback that comes just weeks after Merck & Co. recalled its similar Vioxx drug due to heart safety risks.

Doctors Say Avoid Pfizer's Bextra

Doctors writing in a prominent medical journal on Friday recommended that physicians stop prescribing Pfizer Inc.'s Bextra painkiller, just as a large study found the drug maker's sister drug, Celebrex, doubled risk of heart attacks.

Depression Ups Diabetes Risk in Middle-Aged Women

Results of a new study provide more evidence that being depressed increases the likelihood of developing diabetes.

OTC Acne Products as Good as Prescription Meds

Over-the-counter (OTC) benzoyl peroxide cream clears up acne as well as prescription antibiotics -- and at a fraction of the cost, according to new study findings released Friday.

False-Positive Cancer Screening Results Costly

Screening for cancer quite often produces a false-positive result, and this can lead to costly -- and ultimately unnecessary -- follow-up testing, according to a new report.

42 Million Americans Not Screened for Colon Cancer

About 60 percent of Americans aged 50 or older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer -- some 42 million people -- have not yet been screened, researchers report.

Iressa Drug Failure Deals AstraZeneca Fresh Blow

AstraZeneca Plc suffered its third setback in two months on Friday as lung cancer drug Iressa failed to help patients live longer in a major clinical trial, sending its shares down more than 8 percent.

Psoriasis My Yield to Modified Anti-Anxiety Drug

A new benzodiazepine derivative, called Bz-423, holds promise for treating psoriasis without being toxic to normal cells, a research team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor reports.

Magnetic Bracelets Cut Osteoarthritis Pain

Magnetic bracelets can help to ease the pain of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, British researchers said on Friday.

U.S. Accused of Using Africans for Tests

President Thabo Mbeki's ruling party published a stinging attack Friday on top U.S. health officials, accusing them of treating Africans like "guinea pigs" and lying to promote a key AIDS drug.

Danger of Liver Problems Seen in ADD Drug

Strattera, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is getting an updated label to highlight the risk the drug might contribute to severe liver problems in some patients.

FDA Approves Drug to Treat Eye Disease

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new drug designed to treat the leading cause of blindness in older Americans: age-related macular degeneration.

Stem Cells From Fat Used to Repair Skull

Surgeons in Germany say they used stem cells from a 7-year-old girl's fat to help repair severe damage to her skull. It's apparently the first time that researchers have generated bone in a person by using the fat-derived cells.

Vatican Sets Up AIDS Foundation

The Vatican established a foundation Friday to fund Catholic organizations assisting AIDS victims, urging people to contribute even if they object to the Church's opposition to the use of condoms to fight the spread of the disease.

Smoking Slows Healing

A new study outlines the way that cigarette smoke may delay the formation of healing tissue on wounds.

Dry Hands Could Mean Eczema

If your hands remain dry, cracked, red, and itchy no matter how much lotion you slather on them, you may have hand eczema, a common inflammation of the skin.

Gene Family May Be to Blame for Lupus

Scientists have identified a family of genes that plays a role in determining the potential for developing lupus.

Vitamin C May Be Cancer Fighter

The way vitamin C functions in the body may help explain its possible role in prevention of heart disease and cancer, according to an Oregon State University study.

Gene Therapy Beats 'Bubble Boy' Disease

Researchers report that gene therapy has successfully treated four children with severe combined immunodeficiency disorder, more popularly known as the "bubble boy" disease.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Pfizer's Celebrex Lifts Heart Attack Risk in Trial

NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc. on Friday said its popular Celebrex arthritis drug more than doubled the risk of heart attack in a large cancer-prevention trial, a setback that comes just weeks after Merck & Co. recalled its similar Vioxx drug due to heart safety risks.

Shortly after the Celebrex news, the New England Journal of Medicine carried a letter in which Vanderbilt University cardiologists questioned the safety of Pfizer's newer arthritis drug, Bextra, and recommended doctors not prescribe it.

Shares of Pfizer, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, fell 11.1 percent following the double blast of bad news.

Merck recalled Vioxx on Sept. 30 after a study found that long-term use of the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. Both Celebrex and Vioxx belong to a class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors, as does Bextra.

"It is now a fair question to ask whether Celebrex and Bextra could be removed from the market," Prudential Equity Group analyst Tim Anderson said in a research report.

Some analysts have estimated Merck faces tens of billions of dollars in potential future liability claims from former users of Vioxx. Anderson said Pfizer must be concerned about its own legal risk if Celebrex and Bextra remain on the market.

"This does not bode well for COX-2 inhibitors in general," Ira Loss, an analyst at Washington Analysis, said of the Celebrex trial. "The sense had been that Celebrex is somehow different from the others."

Dr. Richard Hayes, a cardiologist at New York University, told Reuters, "This raises my concern about Celebrex and all the COX-2 inhibitors, so I will no longer be prescribing any of them."

A Pfizer spokesman said the company has no plans to pull Celebrex off the market. It is one of the drugmaker's biggest products, with 2003 sales of $1.9 billion. Bextra had sales last year of $687 million.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was reviewing the new Celebrex data and will determine "appropriate action." Meanwhile, it urged doctors to consider alternative treatments.

Pfizer shed almost $24 billion in market capitalization, its stock closing down $3.23 to $25.75 on the New York Stock Exchange and dragging down the Dow Jones industrial average as well as other pharmaceutical stocks. Pfizer is off almost 30 percent this year.


Pfizer said the Celebrex trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, involved patients taking 400-milligram and 800-milligram daily doses of the drug to prevent tumors known as adenomas that grow from glandular tissue. High doses of the anti-inflammatory drug were being tested on the theory that inflammation is a cause of cancer.

Vioxx and Celebrex both work by selectively blocking a protein called COX-2 that has been linked to inflammation. They were both launched in 1999 and quickly became top-selling drugs, helped by massive television and print advertising.

Pfizer also said on Friday that Celebrex was not shown to increase heart risk in a second long-term trial designed to see if the drug could prevent colon polyps. Negative findings in a similar trial led to the withdrawal of Vioxx.

New York-based Pfizer said National Cancer Institute officials decided to halt the Celebrex trial on adenomas after confirming "an approximately 2.5-fold increase" in the risk of fatal or non-fatal heart attack in patients taking the drug, compared with patients taking a placebo.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Hank McKinnell on Friday told CNBC television he does not believe the continuing negative news on COX-2 drugs, including Celebrex and Bextra, will spell their eventual demise.

"I don't believe they're doomed," he said, arguing that older standard painkillers cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding that kill 16,500 Americans each year and that the COX-2 pills are gentler on the stomach.

Amid concerns about the safety of all COX-2 inhibitors after the Vioxx withdrawal, Pfizer plans to begin a major new trial next year to verify the heart-safety of Celebrex in arthritis patients who have had a recent heart attack.

The company has also defended Bextra's safety, although Pfizer's newer treatment raised the risk of stroke and heart attack in two small clinical trials of patients taking it after coronary bypass surgery.

In other fallout from the Celebrex news, Moody's Investors Service on Friday said it revised Pfizer Inc.'s outlook to negative from stable but affirmed its long-term debt ratings.

Health Headlines - December 17

Canada Signals Crackdown on Internet Pharmacies

The Canadian government signaled on Thursday it was ready to crack down on Internet pharmacies that send cheap medicine to the United States, often without Canadian doctors having seen the patients.

Possibly Avoidable Hospital Stays Costly

Nearly 5 million hospital admissions might have been prevented in 2000 if patients had received high quality primary and preventive care, according to a government report issued on Thursday.

Americans Give Up on Flu Vaccine, Survey Shows

Millions of Americans, frightened off by news reports of long lines or discouraged by their own failed attempts, have given up on getting flu shots this year, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

Fruits May Protect Children from Leukemia

U.S. investigators have found that children who ate oranges and bananas or drank orange juice most days of the week before age 2 were significantly less likely than other children to be diagnosed with leukemia before age 14.

Epilepsy Drug Useful for Binge-Eating Disorder

The results of a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggest that the epilepsy drug topiramate may provide long-term benefits for people with binge-eating disorder and obesity.

Medicare May Delay Heart Device Payment

A new group of patients that qualifies for Medicare reimbursement for implantable heart defibrillators may have to wait a few days longer until payment is available, the federal government said on Thursday.

New Nasal Vaccines May Be Given Together

Two new nasally administered vaccines for respiratory infections are being tested, and researchers now say that giving them together to young children appears feasible.

Insulin-Like Protein Points to New Diabetes Drugs

Japanese investigators have isolated a new compound produced by fat tissue that shares properties with insulin and may lead to the development of new diabetes drugs. They call the protein visfatin.

Some FDA Staff Had Drug Safety Concerns in 2002

Nearly 20 percent of U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists surveyed in late 2002 said they were pressured to approve or recommend approval of a medicine despite their reservations about the drug's risks or effectiveness.

Bee Products Fight Tumors in Mice, Study Shows

Honeybees could be keeping a cornucopia of anti-cancer compounds in their hives, early research in mice suggests.

Many Now Worry AIDS Drug Will Be Halted

Doctors and AIDS activists in Africa are worried governments may halt use of an AIDS drug that has protected thousands of babies from HIV infection in reaction to new concerns about the drug's testing and effect on pregnant women.

Fidgeting Fends Off Holiday Weight Gain

Hankering for another slice of fruitcake? Hoping it doesn't go to your hips? Better start twiddling your thumbs, tapping your feet and talking with your hands.

Device Can Detect Heart Failure Symptoms

A device that automatically detects early symptoms of congestive heart failure has been implanted in a patient in the United States for the first time.

AMA Concerned About Teens, Sweet Alcohol

Sweet alcoholic drinks aggressively marketed to young people are anything but "cool and fashionable" and are luring troubling numbers of teens — especially girls — to engage in underage drinking, the American Medical Association said Thursday.

WHO: Cervical Cancer Largely Preventable

Almost a quarter million women worldwide die from cervical cancer each year although the disease is largely preventable, the U.N. health agency said Thursday.

Survey Shows Lack of Confidence at FDA

About two-thirds of Food and Drug Administration scientists are less than fully confident in the agency's monitoring of the safety of prescription drugs now being sold, according to an FDA internal survey.

U.S. to Launch Massive Study Into Children's Health

Researchers have long wondered about the role environmental factors play in rising rates of childhood ills such as asthma, obesity, autism, learning disabilities and schizophrenia.

New Way to Block Angiogenesis Found

A new pathway that may be useful in regulating angiogenesis -- the way by which new blood vessels are built -- has been identified by Ohio State University researchers.

Two New Psoriasis Treatments May Be Ready for Human Testing

Two separate approaches to treating psoriasis, a painful condition that attacks the skin, have shown promise in the lab and may be rerady to try on humans.

Scientists Developing Injectable Gel For Torn Cartilage

An injectable gel designed to speed repair of torn cartilage so injured athletes can return to competition faster is being tested by researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School.