Monday, January 31, 2005

Health Headlines - January 31

Additive May Help Chips Lower Cholesterol

Tortilla chips might not be health food anytime soon, but science may have found a way to make them lower your cholesterol. Researchers are frying chips in oil spiked with an ingredient from plants called phytosterol, which can soak up cholesterol without harming the taste.

Scientists Turn Stem Cells Into Neurons

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison reported Sunday that they've whipped up an exciting — but intricate — new recipe that could someday treat spinal cord injuries or provide a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Kaiser Halts Prescriptions of Bextra

Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest not-for-profit managed-care provider, has stopped prescribing Bextra until tests show whether the painkiller is safe.

Bone Marrow Matches Hard for Multiracial

Luke Do was a lively 18-month-old awaiting the birth of his first sibling when he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. The hopes of his parents, both doctors in San Jose, Calif., immediately turned to a bone marrow transplant, but they soon learned some distressing news — Luke's ethnic heritage made him a tough match.

Sarah Gaskins, Luke's mother, has Japanese and European ancestors and his father, Lam Do, is Vietnamese-American. Because bone marrow matches usually are made with a relative or someone with the same racial or ethnic background as the patient, multiracial people rarely have success.

Marine, Iraq Veteran, Receives New Liver

With little time left before his organs would likely fail, a U.S. Marine received a new liver Sunday for a mysterious ailment doctors said would kill him if he didn't get a transplant.

Bird Flu Kills 12th Vietnamese in a Month

A 10-year-old girl from southern Vietnam has died of bird flu, the 12th human victim from the virus in a month, a health official said Monday.

Blacks More Prone to Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a silent epidemic striking black Americans, who seem more susceptible to the brain-wasting condition than any other group of Americans, new research finds.

Exercise Can Ease Depression

Aerobic exercise alone can have a significant impact on mild to moderate depression, says a study by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Obesity posing heavyweight problem for health, food sectors

Concern over growing levels of obesity has sparked a lively debate among food sector professionals and health experts about how to halt a trend that is medically and economically harmful.

Leprosy blights lives even in the 21st century

Leprosy, which has blighted mankind for thousands of years, is still far from being eradicated, afflicting half a million people every year even though the disease is completely curable.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Health Headlines - January 30

Mental Health Charity Calls for Cannabis Probe

A British health charity called on Saturday for an investigation into evidence that smoking cannabis may cause psychosis in people at risk of mental illness.

Bill Aims to Curb Out-of-State Abortions

The abortion bill most likely to become federal law this year would affect a relatively small number of pregnant teens, yet its impact on them could be dramatic — sharply reducing the options for girls in many states.

Exotic Trips May Increase Exotic Diseases

American travelers made more than 56 million foreign trips in 2003, up from more than 44 million a decade earlier. They often bring back germs that can take weeks or months to cause symptoms and diseases, which American doctors may be slow to recognize.

Group Fights to Deliver Water to the Poor

Gary White remembers landing in a grassy field in Ecuador, canoeing two hours to a remote village and finding a gas-powered pump that was supposed to help the impoverished residents get water.

Tsunami Children Suffer From Malnutrition

In a ramshackle refugee camp of destitute farmers and fishermen on Indonesia's Sumatra island, hunger is rare these days. But so are protein, vegetables and vitamins.

New Drug Targets Pancreatic Cancer Two Ways

A new drug that targets pancreatic cancer in two ways is being tested by oncologists at the University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Scientists Explore Risks Posed by Steroids

While Major League Baseball owners and the players' union have agreed on a stricter policy to combat the use of performance-enhancing steroids, scientists are exploring the potential dangers posed by these drugs.

Doctors Debate Value of Vitamin E

Doctors and other health professionals defended on Thursday the safety of vitamin E, and reported on continuing studies that they said show its potential benefits in treating a variety of health problems.

New push for public health, AIDS spending at African Union summit

Activists hope this weekend's African Union summit will net commitments to boost government spending on public health, helping to curb the spread of AIDS which killed 2.3 million Africans in 2004.

Health experts carefully watching bird flu evolution

Bird flu cases in Vietnam have grown since December at around the same rate as last year but scientists are carefully watching for any change in the way the virus is spreading.

Zimbabwe fights to revive key hospital in 'intensive care'

Zimbabwe has given 100 billion dollars (18 million US/13.5 million euros), while well-wishers chipped in another 230 million to rescue the country's second hospital, a daily said.

Cancer-stricken BBC journalist ends 'tumor diary'

Ivan Noble posted the last entry in his "tumor journal", an online record of the two-year long battle the BBC journalist has waged, ultimately without success, against brain cancer.

Meningitis kills eight in eastern China

An outbreak of meningitis across 11 cities in eastern China has claimed eight lives and left seven people hospitalised, state media reported.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Health Headlines - January 29

Erectile Dysfunction May Signal Heart Problems

Erectile dysfunction is sometimes more than just an issue that negatively impacts a man's quality of life -- it can also be an early sign of heart or blood vessel problems, according to experts.

U.S. Clears Mylan's Generic Rival to J&J Pain Patch

U.S. regulators approved the first generic rival to Johnson & Johnson's Duragesic pain relief skin patch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.

Botox May Soothe 'Musician's Cramp'

Injections of the wrinkle-banisher Botox may help soothe the involuntary muscle contractions that plague some professional musicians, according to a new study.

Age a Factor in Cervical Cancer Treatment

Elderly women with invasive cervical carcinoma are less likely to receive aggressive treatment than younger patients, and are more likely to die from the disease, a new study shows.

Head Cooling May Reduce Brain Damage in Infants

Cooling the head with a special cap may help reduce brain damage in infants with neonatal encephalopathy, a serious neurologic condition that occurs in the first days of life, new research shows.

Heart Attack Diagnosis Less Likely in Women

Even with new, more objective criteria, women are still less likely than men to have their heart condition accurately diagnosed as a heart attack, researchers report.

Steroid Puffs Do Not Up Nonvertebral Fracture Risk

In the short term, the risk of nonvertebral fracture is not increased in older adults with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who use inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), a study shows.

Britain Clamps Down on Facelift 'Cowboys'

Britain moved on Friday to impose tougher regulations on the booming cosmetic surgery industry as concerns grow that people seeking beauty can end up disfigured by rogue practitioners.

Merck Hit with SEC Probe, Patent Ruling

Merck and Co. (MRK.N) suffered a double blow on Friday when a court ruled that the patent on its second-biggest drug, Fosamax, will lapse a decade earlier than expected and U.S. regulators elevated their probe of its withdrawn Vioxx arthritis drug.

Vietnam Tests Sick Cambodian Woman for Bird Flu

A 25-year-old Cambodian woman suspected of having bird flu is seriously ill in a hospital in southern Vietnam and tests are under way to check for the virus that has killed 10 Vietnamese recently, doctors said on Saturday.

Illinois Lifts Restrictions on Flu Shots

Officials lifted all restrictions Friday on the flu vaccination program in Illinois — a day after conceding the state has been unable to resell 700,000 doses purchased in Europe.

Acne Drug Memos Kept Secret Despite Suits

Lawyers suing the makers of Accutane over allegations the acne drug increases the risk of suicide cannot share the company's internal memos and other documents with the public or federal regulators, a judge ruled Friday.

Medicare Expands Defibrillator Coverage

About 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries can now receive coverage for expensive defibrillators — if they agree to release details about their cases to a database shared by hospitals, Medicare officials said.

Everyday Activity Said Key to Weight Loss

It turns out some couch potatoes spend more time on the couch than others. And that could be a key to obesity.

With Age Comes Pain Tolerance

Older adults seem better able to cope with chronic pain than younger adults, say researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of South Florida.

HIV Risk High in Poor Neighborhoods

Stress experienced by males who live in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods may put them at increased risk for HIV infection, says a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Anti-Tobacco Programs Cut Teen Smoking Rates

Teen smoking rates could be cut by up to 14 percent if states followed federal recommendations for funding anti-smoking programs, a new study finds.

Seatbelts Save Police Officers' Lives, Too

Police officers who don't wear their seatbelts are 2.6 times more likely to die in patrol crashes than officers who wear seatbelts, says a University at Buffalo study in the January issue of the Journal of Trauma.

Smallpox Vaccine Risky for Some

People who have certain skin disorders or weakened immune systems, or are taking high-dose corticosteroids may face increased risk if they get the live-virus smallpox vaccine.

Campaign Touts Folic Acid for Moms-to-Be

A new public education campaign to raise awareness about the important role that the B vitamin folic acid plays in preventing serious birth defects was announced this week by the March of Dimes.

Parents' Smoking Can Kill Children Years Later

Here's one more study that shows smoking is bad not only for the health of people who light up but also for those around them -- specifically, for children who breathe in their parents' secondhand smoke.

EU confirms BSE has spread beyond cattle

European scientists have confirmed the first case of "mad cow" disease in another species, officials said, while playing down the risk from a condition linked to a horrific brain disease in humans.

Vietnam reports 11th death from bird flu in past month

A 13-year-old girl has died from bird flu in Vietnam, becoming the country's 11th victim of the disease in the past month, a doctor said.

British couple fail to change ruling that premature baby be allowed to die

The parents of a critically ill premature baby failed to overturn a landmark British court ruling that doctors be allowed to let her die, despite arguing her condition had significantly improved.

India declares 'last mile' fight against leprosy

International health organisations have declared a "last mile" assault on leprosy in India, aiming to eradicate the disease by the end of 2005, a campaigner said.

Two million Ethiopians in acute hunger crisis despite harvest

More than two million acutely-hungry Ethiopians will need emergency food aid to survive the next year despite a bumper cereal harvest, according to a joint UN food agency report.

United States to assist Nigerian AIDS sufferers with drugs, care

The United States has set up an emergency plan to assist Nigerian AIDS sufferers with life-prolonging anti-retroviral treatment (ART), care and prevention programmes, a senior US official said.

At least three dead as cholera outbreak hits western Kenya

A cholera outbreak in several villages in western Kenya has killed at least three people since water supplies were cut for non-payment of bills two weeks ago, the country's chief physician said.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Spinal Cord Injury Incontinence

We have a Web site, and we have provided a page for people with muscular dystrophy. On that page we have provided a link to your blog.

My nick is Doc, and I am a retired EM engineer and a disabled fireman- EMT-paramedic. I am trying to cope with a debilitating set of circumstances brought on by a apinal cord injury caused by an auto accident and six months later a fall from a third story window.

In 1994, I was bitten by a Pennsylvania deer tick and the result was Lyme disease. It went diagnosed but not declared till 1995 at which time I went into anaphylactic shock once from the antibiotic and 30 days later by the IVP dye used during a routine urodynamic evalution of my neurogenic bladder and bowel disorder. Since then, I have been diagnosed with CHF and type II diabetes. The spinal cord Web site is how I deal with it. I have provided over six pages of links for medical professionals, fire and EMTs, veterans, medical reference libraries, and specialty clinics. Please check us out.

Howard F. Gemperline II
Da Ol' Bear

Health Headlines - January 28

Study Finds Most Bone Growth Occurs at Night

The perception that children seem to grow taller overnight is likely true, researchers said on Thursday.

Smoking Further Linked to Deadly Pancreatic Cancer

Smoking may speed the growth of pancreatic cancer by causing it to develop in younger people, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

U.S. Group Warns of Mix-Ups with Foreign Drugs

The same brand names are sometimes used for different drugs in different countries, posing a risk for people who import cheaper medicines from abroad, a U.S. group warned on Thursday.

Can't Sit Still? It May Keep You Thin, Study Finds

People who literally cannot sit still may have inborn behavior that keeps them slim even if they overeat a little, researchers in the United States said on Thursday.

Health Savings Accounts Hurt Poor, Care

Health plans with high patient-paid deductibles, embraced by many Republicans as a market-based solution to quell soaring medical-care costs, lead to poorer quality care and increasing patient debt, a study released on Thursday said.

Passive Smoke Raises Kids' Lung Cancer Risk - Study

Children exposed to passive smoking have a higher risk of developing lung cancer later in life than other youngsters, according to new research.

Unsafe Sex Burdens Health in U.S.

The public health burden related to unsafe sexual activity is three times higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medicare Expects to Pay $2 Billion for Heart Devices

Wider coverage for expensive implanted heart devices likely will cost the U.S. Medicare program for seniors about $2 billion over five years, the program's administrator said on Thursday.

Tsunami Survivors Risk Fungal Infection

Survivors of the Asian tsunami, in which nearly 300,000 people were killed or are still missing, could be at risk of a deadly fungal infection, Australian researchers said Friday.

Statins Reduce Deaths Among Dialysis Patients

Treatment with a statin drug -- such as Lipitor or Zocor -- significantly reduces the risk of cardiac and non-cardiac death in people on hemodialysis, investigators report.

Meth Becoming a Threat in Some Cities

Already known as a rural scourge, methamphetamine is becoming a problem in a number of U.S. cities. Meetings of the 12-step group Crystal Meth Anonymous have increased in Chicago from one night a week a few years ago to five a week.

Medicare Expands Defibrillator Coverage

About 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries, some of whom have never suffered cardiac arrest, became eligible for coverage of expensive defibrillators Thursday in a move that could cost $2 billion over five years.

Everyday Activity Said Key to Weight Loss

It turns out some couch potatoes spend more time on the couch than others. And that could be a key to obesity.

Lawmakers Look to Tax Cosmetic Surgery

Nip, tuck and ... tax? Lawmakers trying to plump up the bottom line are considering a "vanity tax" on cosmetic surgery and Botox injections in Washington, Illinois and other states.

States Encouraged to Use Flu Shots

Afraid millions of doses will go to waste, the government all but dropped its restrictions on the flu vaccine Thursday, encouraging states with ample supplies to offer shots to anyone who wants one.

10 Die of Bird Flu in Vietnam This Month

Vietnam reported another bird flu death Friday, bringing the human toll from the virus that spreads mostly from chickens and ducks to humans to 10 so far this month, officials said.

Bush to Pledge $3.2B to Combat AIDS Abroad

President Bush will ask Congress to provide $3.2 billion to combat AIDS in Africa and other poor regions, continuing the program's gradual growth, senior administration officials said Thursday.

Gates Foundation Gives $10M for Polio

The United Nations said Thursday that it has received grants of $10 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop and introduce a more effective new vaccine for polio.

Journal Retracts Report on Prozac Papers

The British Medical Journal has retracted a report that said Eli Lilly and Co. documents suggesting a link between Prozac and a heightened risk of suicide attempts and violence had gone missing for years.

Hispanic Americans Face Liver Disease Risk

Hispanic Americans may be at higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than other racial groups, says a study in the February issue of Hepatology.

Nervous System Development Detailed

Research in mice and fruit flies offers the first evidence that a group of proteins called phosphatases play an important role in nervous system development, says a study in the Jan. 28 issue of Science.

Study details suspected case of human-to-human bird flu transmission

Researchers say they have the first scientific evidence to confirm worries that the bird flu, the avian virus that has sparked a health alert in Southeast Asia, can be transmitted from one human to another.

After SARS, health experts ponder the next global epidemic

The panic caused by SARS and the impact of avian flu fuelled a debate among public health professionals about where the next global epidemic might emerge -- and how to contain it.

Two more people infected by bird flu in Vietnam

Two girls have tested positive for bird flu in southern Vietnam and are critically ill in hospital, a doctor said.

Japan's AIDS experts alarmed as HIV infections hit record high

The number of Japanese people who were infected with HIV or developed AIDS topped 1,000 for the first time in 2004, officials said, voicing concern the virus could be spreading more quickly due to a lack of awareness.

More than 400 pigeons culled in Thailand over bird flu fears

More than 400 pigeons have been culled in central Thailand, after one of the wild birds was found infected with a strain of bird flu that can be deadly to humans, officials said.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Health Headlines - January 27

Survey Finds 80 Pct of U.S. Doctors Witness Mistakes

Eighty percent of U.S. doctors and half of nurses surveyed said they had seen colleagues make mistakes, but only 10 percent ever spoke up, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Avastin Plus Erbitux More Effective

Adding the drug Avastin to a regimen of targeted therapy Erbitux and chemotherapy in patients with advanced colon cancer is more effective than the two drugs alone, a leading cancer researcher said on Wednesday.

U.S. Women at Greatest Risk of Sexual Disease

Americans, and especially women, are three times more likely to suffer premature death and adverse health due to sexual activity than people in other rich nations, scientists said on Thursday.

Go Ahead and Widen Flu Shots, CDC Tells States

Fearing that a flu vaccine shortage may turn into a glut, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday more people should get shots so the vaccines don't go to waste.

Bill Would Restrict Cold Pills to Fight 'Meth'

Americans wanting to buy many common cold medicines would have to go to a drug store and ask the pharmacist under legislation introduced on Wednesday aimed at fighting the spread of the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.

Quit Smoking or Quit Your Job, U.S. Company Says

The owner of a Michigan company who forced his employees to either quit smoking or quit their jobs said on Wednesday he also wants to tell fat workers to lose weight or else.

Novartis Says Breast-Cancer Drug Beats Tamoxifen

Novartis AG said on Wednesday that its breast cancer pill Femara is more effective than the current standard treatment tamoxifen in reducing the risk that the cancer will return to older women after surgery.

Secret Ingredient for Elderly Romance

A mystery chemical isolated from the sweat of young women seems to act as a romance booster for their older counterparts.

Thinning Bones Linked to Alzheimer's Risk

People with low bone mineral density (BMD) are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, researchers report. Low BMD is also associated with all-cause dementia in women, but not men.

Response Prevented Tsunami Deaths from Disease - UN

The swift response to the Asian tsunami prevented a second wave of deaths from disease and malnutrition but the task of rebuilding is far from complete, a top U.N. official said exactly one month after the cataclysm.

Rise and Fall of Syphilis Said Normal

A recent rise in syphilis rates in the United States is probably due to natural cycles rather than an increase in unsafe sex or other behaviors, according to a new study.

Report: Rich Countries Poach Doctors

Rich countries poach doctors and nurses that poor nations spend millions to train, taxing already underfunded, over-stretched hospitals in Africa and elsewhere, according to a report released Wednesday.

Turns Out You Do Watch Your Step

A powerful visual system that can make rapid adjustments to your legs to help prevent falls in tricky footing situations has been identified by researchers at University College London, England.

Scientists ID New Form of Muscular Dystrophy

A new form of muscular dystrophy that develops after age 40 and causes limb weakness along with nerve and heart muscle damage has been identified by Mayo Clinic scientists.

Compound Might Aid Leukemia Patients Resistant to Gleevec

Scientists have developed a compound that may be able to treat cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia that are resistant to the so-called miracle drug Gleevec.

Drug Fails Against Autoimmune Disease

The drug etanercept shows no benefit against the autoimmune disorder Wegener's granulomatosis, according to results of a clinical trial led by Johns Hopkins researchers.

Heart Threats May Lead to Nerve Damage in Diabetics

The same factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke -- obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- also are associated with diabetic neuropathy.

Chirac proposes international tax to fight AIDS

French President Jacques Chirac called for an "experimental" international tax to help fund the war against AIDS, suggesting it could be raised via a levy on airline tickets, some fuels or financial transactions.

AIDS: "Three by Five" goal shadowed by funding shortfall, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that access to AIDS therapy was spreading fast in many poor countries but warned its vision of reaching three million infected people by year's end needed further efforts and more cash.

Small study has reassuring news on mad-cow disease

A small-scale lab study by French scientists suggests that slaughterhouse standards for preventing mad-cow disease are sound and that humans have quite a good natural shield against the dangerous bovine prion protein.

Bird flu hits Vietnam's poultry industry for a second year

Bird flu has dealt Vietnam's poultry industry a severe blow for the second successive year, with prices plummeting ahead of the key Lunar New Year holiday after nine deaths were reported in recent weeks.

British finance chief pledges two billion pounds to wipe out poverty

British finance minister Gordon Brown pledged over 2.0 billion pounds (2.9 million euros, 3.7 million dollars) to help eradicate poverty in the developing world and give a brighter future for millions of children.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Health Headlines - January 26

Obese Moms Often Make Obese Kids, Study Finds

The children of overweight mothers are 15 times more likely to be obese by age 6 than children of lean mothers, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Bone Marrow Cells Help Heart Failure in Experiment

Bone marrow cells infused to the heart through tiny incisions helped several severe heart failure patients get markedly better, an international team of researchers reported on Tuesday.

San Francisco Bars Smoking in Its Parks

Legislators in San Francisco city voted to ban smoking in public parks on Tuesday, becoming the first major American city to embrace such an expansive ban on tobacco use.

U.S. Challenges Tobacco Executive Over Addiction

The nicotine in cigarettes is habit-forming but is not the sole cause of addiction, a tobacco company executive argued during testimony on Tuesday in the government's $280 billion suit against cigarette makers.

What to Tell the Kids? Sperm Donation Couples Fret

Fear of rejection and concerns about the reaction of the child prevent many parents from telling their children they have been conceived with donated sperm, scientists said on Wednesday.

Study Shows Many Alcoholics Recover

Many people with alcohol dependence are able to recover completely, sometimes without formal treatment. Some may even be able to drink occasionally without relapsing, new study findings show.

Young Sibling's Infections Protect Against MS

Exposure to a younger sibling's infections during the first six years of life helps the elder child's immune system develop and cuts the risk of multiple sclerosis later on, Australian researchers said on Tuesday.

Leaflet Helps Men Make It to Infertility Clinic

Not knowing what to expect and fearing the worst, men scheduled to visit an infertility clinic will sometimes cancel their appointment.

Study Links Obesity to Kidney Stones

Being obese or gaining weight more than normal increases the risk of kidney stones, especially in women who ordinarily run half the chance that men do of developing the painful deposits, researchers said on Tuesday.

Stem Cell Therapy Improves Heart Failure

Patients with heart failure experienced a marked improvement after being given an injection of their own stem cells, investigators reported today at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Thoracic Surgery in Tampa, Florida.

FDA Approves Generic AIDS Drug Combo

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday tentatively approved a generic and less costly version of a widely used AIDS drug combination, an action that is expected to expand AIDS treatment in the developing world.

Mixed Results for New Heart Treatments

A large new study found that a blood-thinning drug already available in Europe and Asia improves the chances of surviving a heart attack, while a simple, sugar-based solution that once looked promising does nothing to help victims.

Instant Tea May Have Too Much Fluoride

Instant tea may be a source of harmful levels of fluoride that can lead to bone pain, researchers discovered, after looking into the case of a woman who drank one to two gallons of super-strength tea every day.

Dog Study Shows Value of Diet, Exercise

Perhaps people can learn some new tricks from old dogs in warding off the mental decline that comes with aging. Those tricks include good diet, exercise and plenty of mental stimulation.

Potential HIV/AIDS Vaccine Gets More Tests

A potential HIV/AIDS vaccine developed by Merck & Co. that uses synthetic genes to prepare cells to fight the deadly virus is moving into the second stage of testing.

ASU Posts Measles Warning on Campuses

Arizona health officials are tracking the path of a visiting professor who contracted measles outside the United States and then visited several spots around Arizona.

Fla. Loses Appeal in Terri Schiavo Case

The Supreme Court refused on Monday to step in and keep a severely brain-damaged woman hooked to a feeding tube, all but ending a long-running right-to-die battle pitting her husband against her parents.

Special Scan Detects Blood Clots in Legs

A technique called computed tomography venography (CTV) can help doctors identify blood clots in the legs that could break free and travel to the lungs and block an artery.

Procedure Improves Outcomes in Lung Cancer Cases

A combination of intraoperative brachytherapy with sublobar surgical resection improves outcomes for high-risk lung cancer patients, says a new study by researchers at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Genetic Technique Bolsters Immune Cells to Battle Cancer

Using specialized genetic techniques, German scientists redirected immune cells to aggressively attack and kill cancer cells, says a study in the January issue of Immunity.

Genes May Influence Weight Gain in Adults

Your genes may be one reason your jeans are getting tighter, says a Saint Louis University School of Public Health study that found genetics can play a role in some peoples' weight problems.

Biologists Find Stem Cell Regulator

A signaling system between stem cells and specialized niche cells that harbor and regulate the stem cells has been defined by cell biologists at Duke University Medical Center.

Major epidemic in tsunami-hit regions very unlikely: WHO

A major epidemic in the areas hit by last month's tsunami disaster is "very, very unlikely" thanks to a global effort to help the victims, a top World Health Organisation (WHO) official said.

Civet cats, China's wild animal markets -- the likely source of SARS

China's appetite for wildlife soured after SARS antibodies were found in civet cats, but the habit of butchering animals in crowded and dirty open air markets continues to pose a health risk, experts warn.

Flying doctors immunize remote Malaysian tribe after 14 measles deaths

Twelve medical teams have been deployed by helicopter to remote jungle regions in Malaysia's Sarawak state on Borneo island to immunize nomadic tribespeople after 14 died in a measles outbreak, officials said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Health Headlines - January 25

Scientists Give More Evidence of Vioxx Heart Risks

Vioxx, the painkiller recalled last September because of safety concerns, may have caused up to 140,000 cases of serious heart disease in the United States, researchers said on Tuesday.

Aastrom Biosciences Says It Uses Adult Stem Cells

Aastrom Biosciences Inc. on Monday said it uses adult, not embryonic, stem cells to produce cells that are being tested to see if they can repair severe bone fractures.

EU Needs New Chemical Rules to Halt Toxic Fish

An environmental action group urged the European Union on Tuesday to boost testing on chemicals and halt pollution in the Baltic Sea because the fish there are so toxic.

Risk Factors for Alzheimer's, Heart Disease Similar

People who have high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or who smoke in midlife have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later on, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Sex Map Shows Chain of Almost 300 High School Lovers

The first "map" of teen sexual behavior gives new meaning to the old warning that you don't just have sex with a person, but with everyone that person ever had sex with, researchers said on Monday.

Low Birth Weights Fuel Infant Mortality Rise

A jump in the number of babies born at abnormally low birth weights was the main reason why the U.S. infant mortality rate rose in 2002 for the first time in 44 years, according to a federal study released on Monday.

No Evidence of 'Cancer Personality'

Being open and easy-going can win you friends, and it probably won't raise your cancer risk either, according to a study published Monday.

Obesity May Affect Prostate Screening, Study Finds

Obese men may get falsely reassuring results on prostate cancer screening tests, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Heart Patients Urged to Get Into Rehab

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends in a statement issued Monday that doctors strongly encourage their cardiac patients to participate in rehabilitation programs aimed at preventing a recurrence of heart problems.

Potential HIV/AIDS Vaccine Gets More Tests

A potential HIV/AIDS vaccine developed by Merck & Co. that uses synthetic genes to prepare cells to fight the deadly virus is moving into the second stage of testing.

Studies Put Arthritis Drugs on Hot Seat

Merck & Co. forced one of its researchers to remove her name from a study linking Vioxx to heart attacks, then criticized the findings before ultimately pulling the arthritis drug from the market last fall, two of the scientist's colleagues said.

Fla. Loses Appeal in Terri Schiavo Case

The Supreme Court refused on Monday to step in and keep a severely brain-damaged woman hooked to a feeding tube, all but ending a long-running right-to-die battle pitting her husband against her parents.

Consumer Group Urges Ban of Celebrex

A consumer group urged the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to order the pain killers Celebrex and Bextra off the market.

Researcher Thinks She Has Cancer Vaccine

A researcher at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center believes she has found a vaccine that protects against most kinds of cervical cancer.

Iowa Doctors Say No to Drug Companies

A group of doctors say they'll no longer accept free coffee mugs, pens or other trinkets and free lunches from pharmaceutical representatives in an effort to keep their brand names in view, along with hopes the doctors will prescribe the drugs.

WHO Members Argue Over Bird Flu Approaches

World Health Organization members struggled Monday to find common ground on how countries should tackle any future global influenza outbreak, especially a potential human variant of deadly bird flu.

Health Tip: Considering Botox?

Botox injections, which smooth frown lines by prohibiting the facial muscles' ability to contract, are the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the industry, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Vaginal Hysterectomy Is Preferred Method

Women who have vaginal hysterectomies experience fewer post-surgical infections and high temperatures, have shorter hospital stays, and return to normal activities more quickly than women who have abdominal hysterectomies.

Nose-Stomach Tube Slows Recovery From Surgery

The routine use of nasogastric (nose-to-stomach) tubes in patients after they have abdominal surgery slows recovery and may increase the risk of some postoperative complications.

Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes Lower Fire Danger

Fires caused by smoldering cigarettes kill more than 800 people each year in the United States, and are the leading cause of fire deaths in the country.

Ethiopia to provide free anti-retroviral drugs in major anti-AIDS drive

The east African state of Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, launched a plan to fight AIDS which will for the first time include the distribution of free anti-retroviral drugs.

Doctors airlifted to help sick Afghan children

A group of Afghan and UN doctors flew into central Afghanistan to offer help after 25 children died of whooping cough, government and US military officials said.

World health body warns disease outbreaks still a threat in Aceh

The World Health Organization warned a major outbreak of diseases remained a threat in tsunami-ravaged Aceh province, saying that clean water is key to preventing the menace.

Thailand, Vietnam brace for bird flu outbreaks as more deaths recorded

Bangkok warned that bird flu could kill up to two million Thais as it announced an emergency plan to combat the disease, while Vietnam also ordered hospitals to prepare for a larger epidemic after recording its ninth bird flu death this year.

Cameroonian doctors tasked with testing AIDS treatment on prostitutes

A team of Cameroonian doctors has been tasked with looking into prospects for testing a controversial antiretroviral HIV/AIDS drug on prostitutes in Douala, the west African country's economic capital, authorities said.

Almost 63 percent of Indian injections unsafe

Almost 63 percent of the six billion injections administered annually in India are unsafe, a doctor who conducted a country-wide study said.

Major British pub chain to stub out smoking ahead of gov't ban

J.D. Wetherspoon, one of Britain's largest pub chains, said it would ban smoking at its 650 pubs around the country by May next year, a move that further ostracizes smokers around the world.

Swedish clean teeth campaigners to host Valentine's Day smoochathon

Sweden's state-run pharmacy chain said it would host an attempt to break the world record for the longest kiss as part of a campaign to improve dental hygiene.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Health Headlines - January 24

Impotence Drug May Reduce Heart Failure

The impotence drug Viagra may also help prevent the abnormal growth of the heart seen in some types of heart disease, researchers reported on Sunday.

Bird Flu Likely Jumped Between Humans Last Year

A fatally ill Thai girl probably spread deadly bird flu to her relatives last year in what would mark the first documented case of human-to-human transmission of the feared virus, medical investigators said on Monday.

States Lifting Flu Vaccine Restrictions

States have begun dropping their restrictions on flu shots now that falling demand has led to surpluses, and some health officials want the federal government to take similar action.

Stem Cell Lines Reported Contaminated

The human embryonic stem cells available for research are contaminated with nonhuman molecules from the culture medium used to grow the cells, researchers report.

Genetic Tests May Prevent Drug Reactions

Medical experts say genetic tests offer hope for people whose bodies have trouble processing certain drugs. In theory, such tests might help prevent some of the 100,000 deaths and the more than 2 million serious drug reactions in the United States every year.

Cooking Fires Leading Cause of Home Blazes

Cooking fires are still the leading cause of home fires and home-fire injures in the United States, says a new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study.

Brain dead girl at center of row over Taipei's healthcare system

A critically injured young girl who sparked an uproar over Taipei's healthcare system after being turned away from several city hospitals was declared brain dead, throwing the health system further into crisis.

Malnutrition on the rise in tsunami-hit Indonesia, UN says

Malnutrition is a growing problem among tsunami survivors in Indonesia, the United Nations warned, with high prices and poor quality food leaving many vulnerable to sickness.

World's oldest mother, 67-year-old Romanian, had two abortions

A 67-year-old Romanian woman who last week became the oldest known person to give birth has said she had two abortions in her early twenties, a newspaper reported.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Health Headlines - January 23

Managed Health-Care Execs Bullish on 2005

The tides are turning in the health care industry, with managed care executives becoming bullish about growth in 2005, while pharmaceutical executives are rattled, a new survey shows.

No Prosecution for Dutch Baby Euthanasia

Dutch doctors have ended the lives of babies born with disabilities but have not been charged despite euthanasia being illegal for children, a study said on Saturday.

WHO Raises Specter of Human Bird Flu Transmission

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the specter of human-to-human transmission of deadly avian influenza following confirmation that two Vietnamese brothers had contracted the virus and one had died.

Pope Advocates Education to Prevent AIDS

Education, chastity and sexual fidelity are the responsible methods to combat AIDS, Pope John Paul II said Saturday, reiterating Vatican policy days after Spanish bishops supported condom use to fight the disease but then quickly reversed their position.

N.D. Joins Study on Post-Cancer Libido

A hospital here is taking part in a clinical trial designed to improve the sex drives of female cancer survivors.

Lung Cancer Is a Woman's Disease

Think lung cancer, and most people picture a disease that primarily strikes older men who smoke.

Device Shows Promise for Spinal Cord Injury

An experimental device designed to regenerate nerve fibers in people with spinal cord injuries shows promise, says an Indiana University School of Medicine study in the January issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Tsunami: Clean water, quick response combatted disease threat

It could have been Apocalypse Now, but it turned out to be Apocalypse Not -- and the main reason is something simple: clean water and toilets.

Bird flu claims two more victims as high toll worries Vietnam

Bird flu has claimed two more victims in Vietnam, alarming authorities and international experts as the toll from the disease mounts, with five deaths announced in the past four days.

Singapore scientists invent blood pressure wristwatch

A medical firm in Singapore has invented a wristwatch that tracks blood pressure around the clock without causing pain or discomfort.

Angry French doctors protest health care changes

Thousands of angry French general medical practitioners closed their surgeries and rallied in protest against health care changes they say will devalue their skills.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Health Headlines - January 22

FDA Delays Nonprescription Morning-After Pill Rule

U.S. regulators on Friday delayed a decision on whether to approve over-the-counter sales of a Barr Pharmaceuticals "morning-after pill" to prevent pregnancy, prompting a lawsuit from a women's rights group.

Vioxx, Celebrex Were Overprescribed, Study Says

The two popular painkillers Vioxx and Celebrex, heavily marketed as "super-aspirin," were prescribed for millions of patients who did not need them or should not have taken them, researchers said on Friday.

Bush to Boost AIDS Funds; Critics Say More Needed

President Bush will propose $3.2 billion for next year to combat the spread of AIDS globally, one of the few increases in what is expected to be a tight foreign aid budget, administration and congressional sources said on Friday.

Robust DNA Repair May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

The innate capacity to repair damaged DNA seems to affect a woman's chance of developing breast cancer. Deficient DNA repair appears to triple the risk of breast cancer, researchers have found.

Stuttering Kids Need Help to Cope with Bullying

Parents and teachers need to do more to help kids who stutter deal with any bullying or teasing, according to a speech pathologist.

Managed Health-Care Execs Bullish on 2005 -Survey

The tides are turning in the health care industry, with managed care executives becoming bullish about growth in 2005, while pharmaceutical executives are rattled, a new survey shows.

New Treatment Promising for Cystic Fibrosis

Inhaling a compound that is normally produced in the lungs but is lacking in people with cystic fibrosis seems to be helpful for such patients, results of a pilot study indicate.

Pollutants Blamed for Most Kids' Cancers in UK

Exposure to high-temperature combustion products and volatile organic compounds before birth and shortly after probably cause most cases of childhood cancers and leukemias, a UK researcher says.

'Morning After' Treatment Advised to Prevent AIDS

A "morning after" treatment for the AIDS virus can help prevent infection after a rape, contact with a contaminated needle or even a night of passion without a condom, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

Smoking May Protect Against Parkinson's

A study in Swedish twins confirms that smoking is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease.

Medicare Issues Prescription Drug Rules

Medicare issued final rules Friday for its new drug benefit, laying the foundation for a program that could cover the drug expenses of some 11 million low-income older and disabled Americans.

Probe: Cattle From Canada Farm Healthy

Investigators probing Canada's third case of mad cow disease said Friday that none of the cattle from the same farm show any trace of the brain-wasting disease.

Johnson & Johnson Reports Reminyl Deaths

Patients taking Alzheimer's drug Reminyl in a test for another use had higher death rates than those taking a placebo, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC announced Friday.

Despite Dangers, Miners Smoking in Mines

The surgeon general's warning that smoking can be hazardous to your health takes on new meaning inside a coal mine, where the flicker of a cigarette lighter could trigger a deadly methane gas explosion.

Woman Gives Birth to Giant Baby

A woman in northeastern Brazil has given birth to what one doctor called a "giant baby," a boy weighing 16.7 pounds.

Midwives' Deaths Affect Indonesia Newborns

Some women have been forced to deliver their newborns in dark tents without even a bar of soap, using shards of bamboo to cut the umbilical cords. Others have had to walk through miles of jungle for prenatal help.

Mouse Experiment Offers Alzheimer's Hope

Brain cells in mice recovered rapidly after brain plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease were removed, offering hope that plaque-clearing treatments could benefit patients with the disease, Washington University researchers said Thursday.

Health Tip: Housework Will Keep You Fit

If you're stuck with housework when you'd really rather be at the gym, you'll be happy to learn that you're getting the same workout either way.

Health Tip: Feel Better About Yourself

Women in America are under pressure to measure up to a certain cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image, the National Women's Health Information Center says.

Elevated Phosphate Levels a Danger for Kidney Patients

Elevated phosphate levels may indicate an increased risk of death for people with chronic kidney disease.

Veggie Diet May Lower High Blood Pressure

Vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure than the general population, but it hasn't been clear whether their diet or their lifestyle guards them against hypertension.

Abused Women Less Likely to Have Stable Relationships

Poor women who've suffered sexual or physical abuse at some time in their lives are less likely to maintain stable intimate relationships.

Maternal Study Finds Small Divide Between Adults, Teens

Adult mothers lavish more affection on their babies than teen moms, who are more likely to focus on instrumental behavior such as tending to their infants' clothes or soothers.

New Hope for HIV Treatment

An artificial HIV gene could help in efforts to develop an HIV vaccine, say Duke University Medical Center scientists.

Doctor Report Cards Not Always Clear

Increasingly popular "doctor report cards" don't always provide clear-cut information when comparing quality of care, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

New Colon Cancer Marker Found

Harvard researchers have found a new marker that may signal more invasive and lethal forms of colon cancer.

Heart Attack: Less Treatment May Be Better

Someone who has a heart attack or other life-threatening heart condition may be better off going to a general community hospital than to one with a sophisticated cardiology facility, a new, large study finds.

Swiss drug Roche says hepatitis B drug closer to EU approval

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said that the European Union had moved closer to approving its Pegasys drug which treats life-threatening chronic hepatitis B.

Stem cell treatment reverses diabetes: Argentine researchers

Millions of diabetics worldwide could put insulin injections behind them if a stem cell treatment that Argentine physicians have successfully used to reverse the disease confirms promising early results.

MSF reopens cholera clinic in Burundi after outbreak

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it had reopened a free clinic in Burundi's capital to treat victims of a cholera outbreak that has killed at least five people and infected another 105 in the past two weeks.

Britain announces new anti-binge drinking laws

Britain launched a major crackdown on the nation's increasing fondness for excessive drinking, warning bars that they might have to cover the costs of policing their unruly customers.

Ugandan police to begin enforcing ignored public smoking ban

Ugandan police said they will begin the enforcement of a year-old public smoking ban that has so far been almost completely ignored.

Italian man commits suicide over wife's coma, but she recovers hours later

A Italian man committed suicide in despair after seeing his wife in a coma, but the woman regained consciousness just hours later, a news report said.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Health Headlines - January 21

High IQ Test Scorers Have Less Suicide Risk

Young men who perform well in intelligence tests have less risk of committing suicide than those with lower scores, Swedish scientists said on Friday.

'Morning After' Treatment Advised to Prevent AIDS

A "morning after" treatment for the AIDS virus can help prevent infection after a rape, contact with a contaminated needle or even a night of passion without a condom, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

WHO, Boehringer Back German AIDS Drug Despite Fears

The World Health Organization on Thursday gave its backing to Viramune, an anti-AIDS drug from Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim, despite a U.S regulatory warning that the medicine could cause liver damage.

New Breast Imaging Detects Smallest Tumors

A technique called molecular breast imaging (MBI) is highly sensitive in detecting small lesions and can also spot tumors missed by mammography and ultrasound, researchers report.

U.S. Birth Raises Asthma Risk for Mexican Americans

Mexican Americans who are born in the US are at least twice as likely as those born in Mexico to develop asthma, according to a new report.

U.N. Health Body Sets Sights on Alcohol Abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on Thursday to launch a study into ways to counter alcohol abuse in what could be the opening shot of an international campaign against excessive drinking.

Illness May Help Mad Cow Agent Spread, Study Finds

The agent that transmits mad cow and related diseases may spread further in the body of an animal suffering from certain illnesses, scientists said on Thursday.

Dual Infection May Cause Serious Lung Disease

Infants who become infected with both respiratory syncytial virus and metapneumovirus are prone to develop severe inflammation of the small airways of the lung, called bronchiolitis, UK researchers report.

Sports Drinks May Help Soccer Players Stay Pumped

Taking regular sips of a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink during a soccer match appears to help soccer players maintain their stamina, findings from a new study indicate.

Pomegranate Extract Blocks Skin Tumors in Mice

Pomegranate fruit extract (PFE) can block skin tumor formation in mice exposed to a cancer-causing agent, according to a report in the International Journal of Cancer.

CDC Recommends HIV Drugs for All Exposed

In a major policy shift, the government recommended for the first time Thursday that people exposed to the AIDS virus from rapes, accidents or occasional drug use or unsafe sex receive drug cocktails that can keep them from becoming infected.

Woman Gives Birth to Giant Baby

A woman in northeastern Brazil has given birth to what one doctor called a "giant baby," a boy weighing 16.7 pounds.

Mouse Experiment Offers Alzheimer's Hope

Brain cells in mice recovered rapidly after brain plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease were removed, offering hope that plaque-clearing treatments could benefit patients with the disease, Washington University researchers said Thursday.

Rogue Proteins Found in Unexpected Organs

Rogue proteins like those that cause mad cow disease — found previously only in brain, nerve and lymph tissues — have now been located in the liver, kidney and pancreas in a study of rodents.

EU to Start Taking Obesity Seriously

The European Union said Thursday it will bring the food and advertising industry together with health officials to contain the increasing problem of obesity in Europe, where one out of every four children is obese.

Food Allergy Sufferers Still Seek Cure

Sheila Smith always suspected her 6-year-old daughter was allergic to peanuts. Rebecca would suddenly break out in hives whenever she ate peanut butter and jelly. Once, she had a bad reaction by merely touching the crumbs of a peanut butter sandwich.

Fish Off Asian Menu After Tsunami Fears

Top hotels in several Asian capitals have stopped ordering sea bass and sole from waters off their tsunami-ravaged coastlines to ease diners' concerns about fish feasting on corpses.

Bird Flu Claims Another Life in Vietnam

Vietnam on Friday confirmed the seventh human death from bird flu in three weeks and neighboring Thailand recorded its first case among poultry this year as health experts expressed concern about a possible repeat of last year's devastating outbreak.

Cancer the Top Killer for Those Under 85

For decades, heart disease has been the nation's top killer. Now cancer has taken its place for Americans 85 and younger.

Medical Errors Linked to 20 Minn. Deaths

Twenty patients died in Minnesota hospitals during a 15-month period because of medical errors or oversights including falls, faulty medical equipment and administering the wrong medication, the state Health Department said in a new report.

Many Birth Defects Can Be Prevented

No matter how deeply a mother cares for her unborn child, there's no guarantee her baby will be born in perfect health. Birth defects are more common than you might think, and they're not always avoidable.

Health Tip: Why You Shouldn't Start Smoking

The nicotine found in cigarettes and cigars is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) says.

Combo Therapy Gives Asthma Relief

Combining an inhaled corticosteroid and a long-lasting beta2-agonist seems to provide consistent relief for people with asthma.

Black Americans Undertreated for Esophageal Cancer

Even though surgery can extend the lives of many people with esophageal cancer, only 25 percent of black Americans have the procedure compared to 46 percent of white patients, a new study reports.

Behavior, Diet Therapies Fight Cognitive Decay

A combination of diet and behavior therapies helps curb the progressive age-related decline in learning ability in beagles, says a University of Toronto-led study in the January issue of the Neurobiology of Aging.

New Clues to Tumor Toughness

New information about how cancer cells become resistant to treatment is outlined in a study by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University.

Magnetic Stimulation Alters Brain

Just two minutes of magnetic stimulation can alter the brain for an hour, according to a University of College London (UCL) study in the Jan. 20 issue of Neuron.

Sixth Vietnamese death from bird flu, virus confirmed in Thailand

An 18-year-old woman has died of bird flu in Vietnam bringing the death toll in the country since December to six, as Thailand confirmed outbreaks of the virus for the first time this year.

Debt relief can help Zambia fight AIDS, says World Bank

Zambia could step up its fight against AIDS and build schools, hospitals and roads if a multi-billion dollar debt to international lenders is scrapped, the World Bank representative said.

UN alarmed at widespread baby formula use in Philippines

The United Nations children fund expressed alarm over the widespread use of baby milk in the Philippines, saying that lack of breastfeeding leads to diseases and deaths.

Companies doing little or nothing to fight AIDS, says business forum

Businesses in Africa, Asia and Russia are being too slow in tackling the AIDS epidemic and averting the economic damage it causes, according to the results of a major global survey.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Health Headlines - January 20

Daily Drink Improves Thinking in Older Women

Women who enjoy a drink of beer or wine daily have sharper minds into old age than women who abstain, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

U.S. Cancer Survival Rates Rising

More Americans than ever before are surviving cancer and rates in general are falling, mostly because fewer people are smoking, the American Cancer Society reported on Wednesday.

U.S. Cites Poor Water Quality on More Airliners

The U.S. government has found for the second time in recent months that water from a sampling of commercial aircraft galleys and bathrooms was not safe for use, regulators said on Wednesday.

Fatal Medication Errors Peak at Start of the Month

Deaths related to medication errors appear to rise sharply during the first few days of each month, suggesting that hectic pharmacies may be at least partly to blame, according to researchers.

Medicare to Pay for More Heart Devices

Medicare will soon fund implantable heart devices for thousands more patients, after publication of a landmark study finding the devices can save more lives, top agency officials said in a medical journal on Wednesday.

New Gene Could Be a Master Switch for Cancer

Scientists have discovered a new cancer-causing gene that they believe could be a molecular master switch for the disease.

U.S. Warns of Safety Risks of Boehringer AIDS Drug

An important AIDS drug can cause sometimes deadly liver damage but remains a key option for many patients, U.S. health officials warned on Wednesday.

Bird Flu Kills Vietnam Teenager, Virus Fears Rise

An 18-year-old girl has died of bird flu in southern Vietnam and the first confirmed human infection in the country's north has raised concerns about possible human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Vitamin E May Ward Off Lou Gehrig's Disease

Vitamin E supplements may play a role in preventing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the slowly paralyzing condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, new research shows.

Low-Carb Diets Get New Year's Boost, Survey Says

The number of U.S. consumers on low-carbohydrate diets rose sharply in the first two weeks of 2005, but many Americans are likely to give up the diets as the year progresses, according to a new survey.

Cancer the Top Killer for Those Under 85

For the first time, cancer has surpassed heart disease as the top killer of Americans under 85, health officials said Wednesday. The good news is that deaths from both are falling, but improvement has been more dramatic for heart disease.

Study Shows Plavix Has Higher Ulcer Risk

Plavix, a heart drug recommended by medical groups as an easy-on-the-stomach substitute for aspirin, instead showed a much higher risk of recurrent ulcers in a small but provocative study.

Drinking Water Aboard Airliners Worsens

Asking for bottled water or a canned drink aboard an airliner might be the safest way to fly. Coliform bacteria are showing up in more airliners than last summer when the government first took steps toward requiring sanitation improvements.

Obese Dancers Break Stereotypes in Cuba

Cuban ballet dancers in white glide across the floor, executing an airy blend of pirouettes and back stretches. Within seconds, spectators are captivated, quickly forgetting what at first they couldn't overlook — most of the dancers weigh more than 200 pounds.

Six dancers between the ages of 23 and 41 make up the island's Voluminous Dance group, which has presented about 20 works and is preparing its current show, "Una muerte dulce," or "A Sweet Death," for the spring.

"It's incredible how they utilize their roundness," Mirta Castro, a tourist from Costa Rica, said as she watched the dancers rehearsing in Havana. "It breaks free of the belief that dance is only for slender people."

That is exactly the taboo Juan Miguel Mas, the group's director, wanted to shatter when he created Voluminous Dance in 1996. He called together dozens of overweight people in Havana to a formal dance audition where he looked for inner spark, eagerness and motivation.

"We obese people also need to express ourselves with our bodies," said Mas, who is also a dancer in the group. "We feel (our bodies), we command them and we enjoy them just like any other human being."

While obesity is not a major problem in Cuba, where fast-food restaurants are almost nonexistent, the country is beginning to face some of the same health challenges confronting most of the world.

In the late 1990s, the government began urging Cubans to get more exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables in addition to their typical diet of rice, beans and meat. Last year, the island's sports institute, which manages Cuba's elite athletes, launched a campaign to encourage exercise and sports among the general population.

Mas, who weighs more than 300 pounds, first appeared on stage with Cuba's Contemporary Dance troupe as a giant baby in the lead role of a 1989 production called "Absurdo," or "Absurd." He is the only member of Voluminous Dance, or Danza Voluminosa, who danced professionally before the group's creation.

Dancers in the group have come and gone over the years, Mas said. Money is scarce, and as an independent project, the group often scrambles to find rehearsal space and generate interest in their performances.

The group is not officially recognized by Cuba's cultural ministry, so none of the dancers receive full salaries from the socialist state; instead, they earn some money for each contract. Mas said he thinks the reason there's been no formal endorsement for the group is that most of the dancers have not received dance training from the state.

"We desperately need support," said Mas, who added the group is the only one of its kind in Cuba and, he believes, in the region. "Ours is a project that could reach thousands of people all over the country."

In a studio in Havana's Teatro Nacional, the dancers move with grace and sensitivity, surprising onlookers with their elasticity. Their leaps are limited, but arm motions are expansive and elegant.

The room becomes electric when the dancers suddenly drop to the floor and begin to roll over each other, as if part of a wave. The task appears effortless despite intense, passion-filled expressions on their faces.

"Our work is not just art, it also has a social aspect," Mas said. "We approach obese people to help them find a physical and emotional equilibrium and rescue their self-esteem."

Barbara Paula Valdes, 27, said she feels transformed after two years with Voluminous Dance.

"I changed how I walk, how I talk, the way I relate to people," said Valdes, who weighs 275 pounds. "I had an artist hidden inside me and didn't realize it."

Wyo. Starts Campaign Vs. Chewing Tobacco

After years of swallowing her chewing tobacco so she could hide her addiction from her fellow nurses, Kevin Dager decided that she no longer wanted to be one of the 5 percent of Wyoming women who chew.

Okla. Locks Up Meds Used in Meth Labs

After years of locking up methamphetamine makers only to see illegal drug labs multiply on urban stovetops and country roads, Oklahoma got tough.

Spain's Catholic Church Backs Condoms

In a substantial shift from traditional policy, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Spain has said it supports the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Fertility Clinics Have Differing Policies

A new survey of U.S. fertility clinics found that few have policies for deciding who to help get pregnant — an issue drawing fresh attention because of claims that a 66-year-old woman in Romania gave birth over the weekend.

Health Tip: Brush Your Baby's Teeth

You should clean your baby's teeth with a soft brush and water as soon as they come in, the U.S. National Institutes of Health advises.

Health Tip: Keep Your Nails Healthy

Healthy nails are essential, not only for good looks, but for protecting the health of your fingertips.

Faulty DNA Repair Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

Shortcomings in the capability of cells to repair damaged DNA are linked with increased breast cancer risk, says a study in the Jan. 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

New Guidelines Simplify Care for Acute Coronary Syndrome

New, simplified "alphabet" guidelines for doctors managing patients with acute coronary syndrome are outlined in a study in the Jan. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Spleen Surprise Source of Stem Cells

The spleen may be a source of potential adult stem cells that contain a protein called Hox11, which is associated with embryonic development and limb regeneration in some animals.

Senior Gamblers Play Dangerous Odds

Some older Americans may be at-risk gamblers who are prone to betting lots of money or more money than they can afford, says a study in the January issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Radiation Therapy Boosts High-Risk Breast Cancer Survival

Adding radiation therapy to chemotherapy improves survival in patients with high-risk breast cancer who have had a modified radical or full mastectomy, a 20-year follow-up on a key study finds.

Implanted Defibrillator Research Convinces Medicare to Expand Its Use

New research has convinced Medicare officials that doubling or tripling the use of implantable defibrillators to treat heart failure is economically justifiable.

Moderate Drinking May Ward Off Dementia

A drink a day may keep dementia away.

Plavix Not Best for Heart Patients With History of Ulcers

New research suggests the blood thinner Plavix may be more dangerous to heart patients with a history of bleeding ulcers than the alternative, an aspirin-based treatment.

Fabled for its tobacco, Cuba tells smokers to step outside

Cuba may be world famous for its tobacco but the communist government -- led by ex-smoker Fidel Castro -- has decided to ban smoking in public places starting next month.

Two million Nigerians orphaned by AIDS

Two million Nigerian children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and 900 people are dying needlessly from the virus every day, the international medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) said.

Japanese doctors conduct first live transplant of pancreatic tissue

Japanese physicians said they carried out the world's first live transplant of tissue from the pancreas in an attempt to help a severely diabetic woman in her 20s.

Three Taiwan brothers with rare ALD disease head to US for surgery

Three Taiwanese brothers suffering from ALD, a rare degenerative disease of the nervous system, were to leave for the United States for bone marrow transplants after their family raised millions of dollars to cover their medical expenses.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Health Headlines - January 19

Folic Acid May Prevent High Blood Pressure

Folic acid supplements, widely used by women to prevent birth defects, also may fight hypertension in women, perhaps because they relax blood vessels, researchers said on Tuesday.

Diabetes Linked to Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer

Men with type 2 diabetes seem to be less likely to develop prostate cancer, overall, a new study indicates.

Study: Parent Notification Laws Won't Stop Teen Sex

Laws aimed at forcing teens to get their parents' permission before getting contraception will do nothing to scare youngsters off having sex and may in fact increase rates of teen pregnancy, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

U.S. Blacks Get Less Treatment for Cancer

Black esophageal cancer patients in the United States are half as likely as whites to get surgery that can help them live longer and often do not even see a surgeon, researchers reported on Tuesday.

New Virus May Cause Childhood Diseases

A newly discovered virus related to the SARS virus may cause several mysterious childhood ailments, including Kawasaki disease, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Studies Cite Poor CPR Methods in Restarting Hearts

Many caregivers perform CPR incorrectly and fail to restart stopped hearts by not adhering to strict guidelines governing the frequency and force of chest compressions, a pair of studies said on Tuesday.

Raising HDL May Limit Heart Disease Progression

For people with low levels of "good" (HDL) cholesterol and coronary disease, treatment aimed at increasing HDL levels is worthwhile, researchers report.

New Plan Could Speed AIDS Vaccine Development

The Global HIV/AIDS Vaccine Enterprise, an international alliance of independent organizations supporting HIV vaccine research, has issued a roadmap to speed the development of a vaccine by promoting new collaboration, resources, and strategic focus.

Radiation Ups Long-Term Breast Cancer Survival

The addition of radiation therapy to chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery "substantially" improves survival, according to a 20-year followup analysis of a British Columbia trial.

Companies Seek Recipes Without Trans Fat

The nation's food companies are stirring up new recipes for everything from Oreos to SpaghettiOs to get rid of trans fat, the artery-clogging ingredient that must be listed on food labels next year.

Fertility Clinics Have Differing Policies

They'll check her ovaries and her bank account, but few U.S. fertility clinics have policies for determining a woman's emotional or mental fitness to have a child, let alone whether it's OK to help one who is past menopause, a new survey reveals.

Texas Lawmaker Unveils Child Obesity Bill

Texas school districts would be required to include the body mass index of students as part of their regular report cards under a bill introduced Tuesday by a lawmaker seeking to link healthy minds with healthy bodies.

CDC Overstated Obesity-Related Deaths

Blaming a computer software error, the government says it overstated the nation's weight problem in a widely reported study last year that said obesity was about to overtake smoking as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

Two Doctors Suspended for Bootleg Botox

Two Florida doctors were suspended for allegedly using bootleg Botox on their patients.

Health Tip: Avoid Chewing Aspirin

Aspirin may relieve pain and protect against heart disease, but habitual users who chew it could pay a hefty price, according to the American Dental Association.

Daily chewing of aspirin over time can cause significant damage to both the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, according to researchers from the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore.

The scientists noted two cases of enamel erosion that were attributed to daily chewing of aspirin tablets on a long-term basis. Both patients needed extensive dental treatment.

Health Tip: A Safe Shave

Shaving is by far the most common method of hair removal for both men and women, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Men have been shaving their beards and mustaches for thousands of years, but cosmetic hair removal in women was uncommon in the United States until after World War I.

The keys to a safe shave are a clean razor with a sharp blade. Also, never shave on dry skin; wet hair is soft, pliable and easier to cut.

And contrary to what many believe, shaving does not change the texture, color or rate of hair growth.

Experimental Stent Could Revolutionize Treatment of Artery Disease

Belgian researchers are reporting a successful first trial that could change the definition of a stent -- the metal tube that is implanted to keep an artery open.

Vitamin Intake During Pregnancy May Affect Respiratory Health of Kids

In a new study that seems to raise more questions than it answers, Scottish researchers report that a high intake of vitamin C during pregnancy might raise the risk of an infant developing wheezing problems.

Treating Sleep Apnea in Children Improves Behavioral Problems

Children who are treated for obstructive sleep apnea show improvements in behavioral and emotional problems, says a study in the January issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

Mobile Surgical Units Making Difference in Iraq

New mobile military surgical units provide faster treatment for injured U.S. Marines and Iraqis, says a study in the January issue of the Archives of Surgery.

HRT Increases Risk of Gallstone Trouble

In yet another piece of bad news for hormone replacement therapy, researchers report that postmenopausal women taking estrogen therapy face an increased risk of gallbladder disease and surgery.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Health Headlines - January 18

Studies Link Gene Mutation to Parkinson's Disease

Three teams of scientists have identified a genetic mutation that is linked to about 5 percent of inherited cases of Parkinson's disease.

Gene Therapy Improves Alzheimer's in Mouse Study

Gene therapy might one day be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, new experiments in mice suggest.

Dip in Visual Memory Seen Early in Mental Decline

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment may have problems retaining a mental picture of objects they've just seen -- a subtle memory problem that could serve as an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease risk, researchers reported Monday.

More Evidence Found of Painkiller Heart Risks

More evidence of how painkillers called COX-2 inhibitors can raise the risk of heart disease was published Monday, showing Pfizer Inc.'s Bextra can triple the risk of heart attack and stroke in certain patients.

Tonsillectomy for Sleep Apnea Helps Kids' Behavior

Children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are at increased risk for behavioral and emotional difficulties, but tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy can improve both these problems as well as quality of life, new research shows.

Chamomile Tea May Help Beat Colds, Cramps

Tea drinkers, rejoice: new research supports claims that chamomile tea can protect the body from a host of ills, including colds and menstrual cramps.

Too Much Added Sugar Worsens Kids' Overall Diet

New research shows that the more added sugar kids get from sodas, sweets and fruit drinks, the less they get of the things they need in their diets to stay healthy.

ADHD Linked to Mom's Iodine Levels

A group of Italian researchers is recommending routine thyroid-function screening for women during early pregnancy, because they believe attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children may be associated with an iodine deficiency...

British Government to Make Drug Safety Data Public

Britain is to overhaul and open up its drug safety monitoring system, already viewed as one of the better schemes worldwide, in the wake of recent scandals over the side effects of some medicines.

Study: Colorectal Screening Test Fails

A common screening test failed to detect potentially cancerous colon growths 95 percent of the time, falsely reassuring patients and doctors, according to a new study.

Experts Dissatisfied With P.E. Classes

As American children grow fatter and more out of shape, physical education classes are being found wanting. Experts say there's little accountability for P.E. teachers in most schools. They say the classes are often poorly run.

FDA OKs New Bacterial Meningitis Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration approved a new vaccine to protect people age 11 to 55 against bacterial meningitis, which is rare but potentially deadly and debilitating.

FDA Set to Decide on Morning-After Pill

The government is considering whether to make morning-after birth control available without a prescription, and like most issues that involve sex and pregnancy, it has generated heated debate.

Doctor to Perform Child's Biopsy for Free

A 9-year-old boy whose mother launched an online auction to help pay for a biopsy on her son's tumor will have the procedure done for free, his mother said Monday.

Melanoma Vaccine Triggers T-Cells to Attack Tumors

Vaccines that contain tumor proteins help fight deadly melanoma skin cancer by increasing the number of immune system killer T-cells that can attack the tumor.

Health Tip: Screening Tests Can Be Lifesavers

Screening tests are remarkably effective ways to catch diseases and conditions before they become too serious.

Health Tip: Evaluating Heart Murmur

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during the heartbeat, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Inappropriate Drugs Can Harm Nursing Home Patients

Nursing home residents treated intermittently with drugs for common ailments such as depression, arthritis or sinus problems over a three-month period were almost 90 percent more likely to die.

Combo Treatment Slows Cancer Cell Growth

A combination therapy that boosts the effectiveness of a promising cancer treatment designed to block cancer cells from continuously dividing is outlined in a Japanese study in the January issue of Cancer Cell.

Flu Vaccine Shortage Is Now a Surplus

The flu vaccine shortage, which caused people to panic just a few short months ago, has turned into a glut.

Tackling Alcoholism Among ER Patients

Offering brief counseling sessions to emergency room patients with alcohol problems could save U.S. hospitals about $2 billion a year, says a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center study.

Another Clue Explains Smoking Link to Oral Cancers

Smokers have elevated levels of cox-2, a cellular protein associated with the development and progression of cancer, says a study in the Jan. 15 issue of Cancer Research.

MSF intensifies fight against HIV-AIDS in Nigeria

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said it was intensifying its fight against HIV-AIDS in Nigeria, where some four million people have already been caught up in a spiralling epidemic.

Italian researchers explore herb's potential in treating alcoholism

Italian researchers announced that they have discovered properties in a Chinese variety of sage that could be effective in treating alcoholism.

Four dead as cholera outbreak hits Burundi capital

A cholera outbreak has hit a slum in the northern part of Burundi's capital, killing four people in the past week, health officials said.

UN, foreign donors urge Kenya to boost war on AIDS

Foreign donors and the UN's frontline agency for HIV/AIDS urged Kenya to boost its fight against the deadly disease, saying the country should take advantage of new funding for the area.

UN health chief calls for sustained effort in tsunami-hit countries

The head of the World Health Organization, Lee Jong Wook, urged sustained support for reconstruction in tsunami-hit countries to ward off the threat of disease.

Smoking ban has not inspired more Norwegians to quit

A ban on smoking in Norwegian public places that went into effect on June 1 last year has not inspired more people to stub out their cigarettes for good, Statistics Norway said.

UN says Sudan armed groups heeding polio vaccination truce

A nationwide ceasefire in Sudan, called for by the United Nations to enable a polio vaccination campaign, is holding so far, UN envoy Jan Pronk said, urging the warring factions to maintain the truce.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Health Headlines - January 17

Women's Groups Pressure FDA on 'Morning-After' Pill

Women's rights groups seeking easier access to emergency contraception are pressuring U.S. regulators as they try to decide whether to approve a non-prescription "morning-after" pill.

Dads Urged to Be Involved in Child Health

Picture a parent anxiously checking a sick child's thermometer or hauling the kids to the doctor's office and the image that usually comes to mind is of mom. But with rising numbers of stay-at-home dads, father-only households, shared-custody arrangements and other cultural changes, men are increasingly getting involved in their children's health care.

N.Y. Dems Want $1B Toward Stem Cell Study

Democratic lawmakers proposed a $1 billion stem cell research initiative on Sunday, saying New York could be left behind after California voters approved $3 billion for human embryonic stem cell research.

New Tool Assesses Home Health-Care Programs

A new tool to assess the quality of home health care for the elderly and people with disabilities has been developed by an international team that includes University of Michigan researchers.

Forgive and Forget -- Stress, That Is

Not only is being able to forgive divine, it can be a blessing to your mental and physical health, says an article in the January issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

Japanese firms find going healthy means fat profits abroad

As obesity around the world reaches epic proportions, Japanese firms are watching profit margins bulge on healthy products as they find consumers who have both money and fat to burn.

At 67, Romanian becomes oldest woman ever to give birth

A 67-year-old Romanian became the oldest woman ever known to have given birth, although one of her twin girls died shortly afterwards, Bucharest's Giulesti Hospital told a TV station.

Number of homosexuals infected with HIV more than doubles in Norway

The number of homosexuals annually infected with HIV in Norway more than doubled in the past two years, a Norwegian public health official told the Dagsavisen daily.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Health Headlines - January 16

FDA Approves New Sanofi-Aventis Meningitis Vaccine

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has won U.S. approval to sell a new vaccine designed to give longer protection against meningitis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection.

Panel Makes Recommendation Against Mevacor

The government has until next month to decide whether to allow over-the-counter sales of a cholesterol drug — something an advisory panel says is a bad idea, at least for now.

Weight-Loss Supplements: Do They Work?

Now that the holiday cookies are history, you've resolved to get fit and trim. Perhaps you've even considered taking over-the-counter dietary supplements to help you reach your weight-loss goals.

Drugstores, nutrition shops and Web sites offer a plethora of supplements and combination products that claim to help burn fat, block fat absorption, modulate carbohydrate metabolism, boost energy expenditure, suppress appetite, flush out excess water weight and control cravings -- all good outcomes to an eager dieter.

So what's the harm in grabbing a bottle?

"There's a tremendous appeal for a magic pill to help lose weight -- manufacturers of weight-loss pills appeal to that, I think," said Dr. Robert Saper, director of integrative medicine in the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University Medical Center.

But in a review of the scientific evidence, published in the Nov. 1, 2004, issue of American Family Physician, Saper suggested there's no miracle pill on the market. In fact, some of the supplements out there may be dangerous or might interact with prescription medications that people are taking, he said.

"There's very few of them that show benefit for what people are taking them for," agreed Dr. Gary A. Green, a clinical professor in the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Steven Dentali, vice president of scientific and technical affairs at the American Herbal Products Association, offers a somewhat more upbeat assessment: "I would say there is some preliminary evidence that some of these ingredients can be useful in combination with diet and exercise."

Dietary supplements have quite a following among many Americans. Overall, 7 percent of adults use over-the-counter weight-loss supplements, according to a five-state survey reported in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The use of nonprescription weight-loss products is particularly common among young obese women -- 28.4 percent reported taking them.

One recent success story is that of former Playboy "Playmate of the Year" Anna Nicole Smith. The 37-year-old actress and model dropped 69 pounds in eight months using a formulation of TRIMSPA, a popular brand-name product, the supplement maker's Web site claims.

But do you know what you're getting when you buy brand-name dietary supplements, including TRIMSPA, Xenedrine, and Hydroxycut, or individual herbal products?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a source for evidence-based information on natural brand-name products and ingredients, lists more than 50 individual supplements and 125 proprietary products, according to Saper, who examined individual ingredients found in several commercial products.

Chromium, for example, is a popular weight-loss supplement found in many products, but its efficacy and long-term safety are uncertain, he said. Guar gum, derived from the Indian cluster bean, appears to be ineffective for weight loss. Chitosan, derived from shellfish, is another one to avoid, Saper said. "I discount chitosan because, although it's safe, its role as a 'fat blocker' is not well-substantiated," he explained.

Glucomannan, a plant fiber, may be helpful for modest weight loss, he said, but the data are insufficient to support a definitive conclusion.

Overall, the amount of well-designed research to substantiate the effectiveness of many individual herbs for weight loss is sparse, Saper said. Even greater questions exist as to the safety and effectiveness of combination products and the potential for harmful interactions among different ingredients, he noted.

Dietary aids containing the herbal supplement ephedra were extremely popular until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned their sale in April 2004 due to reports of deaths. Ephedrine, the active ingredient, is a stimulant known to increase metabolic rate, heat production and the risk of heatstroke.

Dangerous supplements still remain available on store shelves and Web sites, Consumers Union warns. The public advocacy group's Consumer Reports magazine last May published a list of the "dirty dozen" -- 12 supplement ingredients that have been linked either to serious adverse effects or to a strong theoretical risk. The list included bitter orange, a common dietary supplement that contains a compound called synerphrine, which carries risks similar to ephedrine, Saper said.

Critics of the dietary supplement industry want Congress to put some teeth into federal regulations. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, manufacturers of dietary supplements are not required to provide evidence of safety or effectiveness. The burden rests on the FDA to prove that a product is either unsafe or ineffective.

"As long as they don't claim to treat any specific disease or condition they can basically make any claims that they want," Green said.

For its part, the herbal products association has expressed support for a mandatory adverse-events reporting system for dietary supplements.

Until there's better data, motivated dieters would be better off talking to their physicians about proven weight-loss strategies, such as diet and exercise, according to Saper.

But Dentali believes herbal products can play a role in a sensible weight-loss strategy. Switching from soda to green tea, for example, may provide some health benefits, "and you're not sucking down those sodas."

Malaysian government to buy unsold fish amid post-tsunami scare

The Malaysian government will buy thousands of dollars worth of unsold fish to help tsunami-hit fishermen whose incomes have been severely affected by the disaster, according to local media.