Thursday, March 31, 2005

Health Headlines -March 31

Pope Treated for Urinary Tract Infection

Pope John Paul II's condition worsened Thursday night as the 84-year-old pontiff developed a high fever due to a urinary tract infection.

"The Holy Father today was struck by a high fever caused by a confirmed infection of the urinary tract," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the Associated Press, confirming earlier reports from two Italian news services.

The pope was being given antibiotics at the Vatican, Navarro-Valls said. There were unconfirmed reports that the pontiff had been given the sacrament for the sick and dying, known as the "last rights."

The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites are commonly given to people who are seriously ill, CNN reported.

CNN said there were no immediate plans to take the pope to the Rome hospital where he was treated twice in the past month for breathing problems.

On Wednesday, the Vatican said a feeding tube had been inserted in John Paul's nose to improve his nourishment.

New Therapy Appears Effective Against Melanoma

A new immunotherapy technique significantly reduced the size of cancer in patients with advanced melanoma who didn't respond to previous treatments, says a U.S. National Cancer Institute study.

The immunotherapy included a combination of chemotherapy and reintroduction of autologous activated lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that have been removed from the patient, re-educated to attack the tumor, and then put back into the patient.

This therapy shows promise as a way to use a patients' own immune system to fight tumors. The study included 35 people with melanoma that had spread throughout the body. Of the 35 patients, 18 (51 percent) experienced improvement in the amount of cancer at various locations in the body -- lung, liver, lymph nodes, brain and skin.

Of the 18 patients who showed improvement, 15 had a partial response that lasted from two months to more than two years.

The findings appear in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Organ Rejection Drug Fights Skin Cancer: Study

An immunosuppressive drug used after organ transplants reversed a form of skin cancer sometimes experienced by kidney transplant recipients, says an Italian study in the March 31 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The University of Bari study found that the drug sirolimus, which suppresses the body's immune system to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, completely reversed Kaposi's sarcoma skin cancer in 15 kidney transplant patients.

The patients developed the skin cancer within months or a few years of their transplants. But all of them saw their cancer vanish three months after they stopped using standard immune suppression therapy and starting taking sirolimus, The New York Times reported.

The drug also prevented rejection of the patients' new kidneys.

Little Change in Youth Smoking Rates: CDC

There has been little change in smoking and other tobacco use rates by middle and high school students in the United States since 2002, says the 2004 National Youth Tobacco Survey released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report said that in 2004, 11.7 percent of middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product and 8.1 percent reported current tobacco use. Among high school students, 28 percent reported current use of any tobacco product and 22. 3 percent reported cigarette use in 2004.

Youth smoking has declined since the late 1990s, reversing a pattern of increased youth tobacco use that occurred in the early 1990s, the report noted. The 2004 figures suggest that health officials determine if there's a slowdown in progress toward meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives to reduce cigarette and tobacco use among students.

Judge Blocks Rule Allowing Corporate Health Benefit Cuts

A U.S. District Judge has blocked a new federal rule that would have allowed companies to cut or eliminate retirees' health benefits when they reached age 65 and became eligible for Medicare, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The new rule, adopted last April by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), could have affected some 10 million retirees, the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, Judge Anita Brody of Federal District Court in Philadelphia issued a permanent injunction that bars federal officials from enforcing the rule. She said it violated a 1967 law that bans age discrimination in the workplace.

AARP had brought the action, saying the rule would have illegally accelerated the erosion of retiree health benefits. An EEOC spokeswoman said her agency would ask the U.S. Justice Department to appeal the decision.

U.S. Bans CFC Propellants in Asthma Inhalers

Makers of metered-dose asthma inhalers that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) must begin using more environmentally friendly propellants by the end of 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

CFCs have been proven to damage the earth's ozone layer that protects people from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Scientists say the depleted layer is likely to result in more cases of skin cancer and other harmful effects.

The FDA said the makers of asthma inhalers that now use the propellant should be able to produce enough non-CFC inhalers within 3 1/2 years.

Multiple Sclerosis Drug Tied to Another Death

A third patient's death has been linked to the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, which its makers stopped selling last month after it was tied to a deadly nervous system disease, the Bloomberg news service reported Thursday.

Tysabri won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in November as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Manufacturers Biogen IDEC and Elan Corp. also had been studying use of the drug for other conditions, Bloomberg reported.

The latest death, which occurred in 2003, involved a patient who had the digestive disorder Crohn's disease and had been taking Tysabri in a clinical trial, Biogen told the news service.

Some 5,000 people had taken Tysabri since it was approved, Biogen said. The deaths were caused by a rare but usually fatal nervous system disease called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

More Petting Zoo Illnesses Reported in Florida

Five new cases of E. coli-related illness have been reported among people who visited central Florida petting zoos, the Associated Press reported.

The number of confirmed and suspected victims, mostly children, now stands at 22, the wire service said. Some have tested positive for E. coli bacteria, and others have developed a related kidney disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Investigators are leaning more toward petting zoo animals than food or drink vendors as the source of the problem, the AP said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Health Headlines - March 30

Nine States Sue Gov't Over Mercury Rules

Nine states filed a lawsuit against the federal government Tuesday, challenging new regulations they say fail to protect children and expectant mothers from dangers posed by mercury emissions from power plants.

Some Free Medicine Programs Too Complex

Drug company programs that offer free medications to the poor are too time-consuming and complex for some health clinics that serve mostly low-income patients, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

EPA Warns on Carcinogens' Risk to Kids

Children may be more vulnerable than adults to cancer risks from certain gene-damaging chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

Web-Based Cancer Research Reaps Reward

A gene mutation that causes three related kinds of bone marrow cancer has been identified by U.S. researchers, who used the Internet to collect blood and tissue samples from far-flung patients.

Health Tip: Fears and Phobias

People with phobic anxieties, like fear of crowded places, fear of heights or fear of going outside, are at higher risk for heart disease than those with fewer or no anxieties.

Health Tip: Drinking and Pregnancy

Drinking alcohol while you are pregnant can cause your baby to be born with a series of physical and mental birth defects called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It's a leading cause of mental retardation.

Having a Family Doctor Equals Better Care

People who rely on their primary-care doctor to coordinate their health-care needs fare better than those who don't, a new study finds.

Gene Heightens Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Individuals with a specific gene variant may be especially vulnerable to adult-onset, type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Cancer Survival Rates Linked to Clinical Trials

The fact that older teens and young adults with cancer seldom participate in clinical trials may be part of the reason they have lower survival rates for some cancers than either children or older people, researchers report.

Lab May Have Answer to Stem Cell Contamination

A new laboratory technique allows human embryonic stem cells to be grown and maintained without contamination by animal cells or products.

Many Americans Are Starved for Sleep

Lack of sleep is leaving Americans with deteriorating productivity, dangerous driving practices and too little sex.

Atkins Introduces New Carb Labelling

Carbohydrate-counting dieters who use Atkins products will soon see a new term on the label. Instead of net carbs, it will now be "net Atkins count."

Studies: SARS May Spread Through the Air

The SARS virus may be able to spread through the air and not just through direct person-to-person contact, according to two new studies.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Health Headlines - March 29

New Surgery Detours Within Clogged Artery Walls

When arteries are too clogged to open using traditional therapies, a detour through the artery wall can be an effective new treatment option, researchers report.

Race, Marriage Influence Prostate Cancer Treatment

Surgery to remove the prostate and radiation therapy are the two recommended treatments for prostate cancer, but a man's race and marital status appear to influence which of these treatments he will ultimately prefer, researchers find.

Preemie Babies Cost U.S. Business Billions

Besides taking a toll on the emotional lives of new parents, health-care expenses incurred during the first year of life for premature babies cost U.S. businesses nearly 15 times more than those for full-term infants, according to a March of Dimes analysis released Monday.

Abuse, HIV Raise Women's Suicide Risk

HIV infection and abusive relationships are especially tough on women, with a new study showing greatly increased risks for depression and suicide attempts in women afflicted with both these problems.

Hair Today, Stem Cells Tomorrow

In the future, stem cell therapy could be just a pluck away, new research suggests.

Special MRI Offers Quick Assessment of Brain Cancer Therapy

A cutting-edge magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can radically reduce the time brain cancer patients and their doctors must now wait before seeing whether treatments targeting tumor growth are working, a new study suggests.

Primary Care Office Strategies May Boost Colon Cancer Screening

Patients are more likely to be screened for colorectal cancer if primary-care doctors use an "office systems approach," says a Harvard Medical School study in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Study Questions Practice of Hospital Advertising

Academic medical centers are relying more and more on advertising to attract patients, yet there appears to be little oversight of these practices, experts say.

Government Recommends Eating Whole Grains

Go ahead, have a piece of bread. Have three. Make it whole-grain, and you'll be following government advice for eating right. Three servings of whole grains each day will reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Virginians Growing Obese at Fastest Rate

The percentage of Virginians qualifying as obese is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the nation, according to a federal study.

Mother Sues Cereal Makers for Sugar Claims

A lawsuit by a San Diego mother claims that lower-sugar versions of Cocoa Puffs and Froot Loops may seem healthier, but they're really a bunch of Trix.

Burger King Sandwich Packs the Calories

Burger King began offering two new breakfast sandwiches Monday, including one that packs more calories and fat than a Whopper.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Health Headlines - March 28

New Compound May Prevent Allergies, Study Finds

A new chemical compound, part-cat and part-human, may provide an end to misery-making cat allergies, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

AIDS Virus Destroys Immune Cells Fast-Studies

Within days of infection, the AIDS virus destroys more than half of the immune cells that might recognize and help fight it -- a finding that may force a re-evaluation of how to tackle the deadly infection, two teams of U.S. researchers reported Sunday.

N.Korea Confirms Bird Flu Outbreak

North Korea Sunday confirmed a bird flu outbreak at two chicken farms in the capital Pyongyang and said the farms slaughtered and buried hundreds of thousands of chickens infected by the disease.

Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Plagues Nigeria

Accusations by Islamic preachers that vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot are threatening efforts to combat a measles epidemic that has killed hundreds of Nigerian children, health workers say.

Eating Disorders Crossing the Color Line

The common perception is that eating disorders afflict only white women, especially upper- and middle-class women. While those are the most reported cases, specialists believe all socio-economic and ethnic groups are at risk.

MD Linked to First 'Test-Tube Baby' Dies

Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones, who helped develop the program that led to America's first "test-tube baby," has died. She was 92.

Researchers Pursue Promising Cervical Cancer Vaccine

With news of a promising vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, it's possible the great work of the late Dr. George Nicholas Papanicolaou may fade in the not-too-distant future.

Promising Ovarian Cancer Drug Under Study

More than two dozen centers across the United States are enrolling about 60 ovarian cancer patients who are in remission to test whether an investigational drug called A6 can prevent disease recurrence.

Ebola-like virus deaths rise in Angola, travel warning issued

Another young woman died of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in Angola, officials said, as the death toll in the deadly outbreak rose to almost equal the most serious outbreak ever recorded.

Family abandons quest to keep Schiavo alive

Protesters opposed to allowing a brain-damaged woman die challenged police and blocked entry to a Florida hospice after Terri Schiavo's parents asked the opponents to go home.

Cancer fears limit Hong Kong air crews' New York trips

Airline Cathay Pacific has limited air crews' flights on the non-stop Hong Kong-New York route after it was found the journey could increase the likelihood of cancer, a report said.

Indian patent law could prove a tonic for Bangladesh drug firms

Pharmaceutical firms in Bangladesh are hoping a new Indian patent law banning Indian companies from manufacturing cheap generic drugs could prove a tonic for their exports.

Japan confirms 16th case of mad cow disease

The Japanese government has confirmed the nation's 16th case of mad cow disease in a female Holstein raised in the northern island of Hokkaido.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Health Headlines - March 27 - Happy Easter!

Docs Say Schiavo Videotapes Can Mislead

They say film doesn't lie, but does that mean it tells the truth? The public sees fleeting videotaped images of Terri Schiavo, appearing to many to turn toward her mother's voice and smile. They hear what sound like moans and laughter. They watch her head move up and down, seemingly following the progress of a brightly colored Mickey Mouse balloon. And often they ask: How could anyone conclude but that she is aware of her surroundings?

The answer lies not so much within Schiavo's brain as in the minds of those who observe her. As social beings, humans are hard-wired to examine another's face for clues to what the person behind it is thinking. They naturally associate vocal tones with specific moods. They detect meaningful words in nonsense utterances.

"I can understand that, because I have examined scores if not hundreds of people with this condition," says Dr. Leon Prockop, a professor of neurology at the University of South Florida, who has reviewed the brain-damaged woman's CAT scans.

At first, he says, his "natural emotional desire to be optimistic and hopeful" made him interpret movements and facial expressions as purposeful. But after long experience, Prockop says, "I came to realize that my emotional reaction was understandable as a human being, but was not an intellectual assessment."

Prostate Cancer Research and Advocacy Lag

It's the most common major cancer in America, even though it affects only one sex. Lifetime odds of getting it are 1 in 6. Testing for it is controversial, and treating it robs many of a body part that's important to their sexuality.

Call for Volunteers for Rheumatic Disease Research

Individuals with arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus or other rheumatic diseases now have an opportunity to become active players in research aimed at fighting these illnesses.

Toll rises as Angola grapples with Ebola-like virus outbreak

Angola anxiously awaited the arrival of foreign medical experts sent to check the spread of a killer virus, as the death toll from an outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg disease rose to 120 and the epidemic spread to a new region.

Cambodia confirms village bird flu outbreak; suspect human case cleared

Cambodia confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at a village near the Vietnamese border but cleared one suspected human case of the deadly disease.

Australian PM gives stem cell research green light

Australia will allow human embryos to be used for some types of stem cell research after Prime Minister John Howard's decision not to push for extended restrictions on the use of IVF embryos.

Vietnam to mount clean up campaign against deadly bird flu

Vietnam said it will mount a large-scale campaign next month to clean up farms hit by the bird flu virus that killed dozens of people across the country in the past year.

Six million North Koreans to face food shortages: WFP

The UN World Food Program said that due to a lack of donations it was going to have to gradually stop supplying rations to 6.5 million North Koreans, and called on Pyongyang to lift restrictions on the distribution of aid.

Thousands turn back to nature as India celebrates festival of colours

India has shut down to celebrate its boisterous festival of colours, Holi, but thousands chose to splash around in naturally coloured pastes and powders instead of risky synthetic products.

Japanese courts keep guilty verdict on bureaucrat over HIV blood

A Japanese court upheld a guilty verdict but declined to jail a former senior health official accused of killing two patients by failing to ensure HIV-free blood in the 1980s.

Tsunami food crisis averted in Asia: WFP

The starvation and malnutrition crisis feared after the tsunami struck the Indian Ocean in December has been averted in less than three months, the UN food agency said.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Health Headlines - March 26

Roche, GSK Say FDA Okays Monthly Osteoporosis Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a monthly version of osteoporosis drug Boniva, Roche Holding AG and GlaxoSmithKline Plc said on Friday.

Schiavo's Hydration Level Raises Questions

Friends of the family say her skin is flaky, her tongue dry and lips sunken. Doctors are saying Theresa Schiavo could survive another week without food or water, but she could just as easily die over the weekend.

Spring Allergies Hitting With a Vengeance

Spring allergy season is hitting with a vengeance in many parts of the country, with the relatively warm, wet winter in many regions resulting in loads of tree and other pollens and mold.

Study: Pneumonia Vaccine Could Save Lives

New research has confirmed that an experimental pneumonia vaccine specially formulated for the developing world could save the lives of children in Africa.

Another Medicare Premium Increase Ahead

Senior citizens can expect at least a 12 percent increase in their Medicare premiums for doctor visits next year, and that could rise even higher if physician reimbursements aren't reduced.

15 Contract E. Coli After Fla. Festivals

State health officials said Friday at least 15 people, including 11 children, who recently visited central Florida festivals have since tested positive for a dangerous strain of E. coli, or a potentially fatal kidney disease caused by the bacterium.

Ebola-Like Virus Death Toll Up in Angola

The death toll from an Ebola-like fever in the African nation of Angola rose to 112 on Friday, with three deaths reported in its capital.

SE Asia's Bird Flu Death Toll Reaches 48

Vietnam and Cambodia on Friday each confirmed an additional death from bird flu, raising Southeast Asia's death toll to 48 from a disease that has become entrenched in the region's poultry and raised fears of a global pandemic.

Neb. High Court Upholds Infant Blood Tests

The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a state law Friday that requires mandatory blood testing of newborn babies, rejecting an appeal by a couple who said it violates their religious beliefs.

Exercise Can Heighten Rosacea Effect

Exercise is a common trigger for flushing in people with rosacea, but altering exercise regimens can reduce the effect, says a National Rosacea Society survey in the journal Rosacea Review.

Blood Test for MS a Possibility

A simple blood test may one day detect multiple sclerosis before its debilitating symptoms take hold.

Treating Depression Keeps Elderly Strong

Treating depression in older adults not only improves their emotional health, it also slows their physical decline, allowing them to remain independent longer, new research shows.

Newer Epilepsy Drug Cuts Risk of Birth Defects

A newer epilepsy drug designed to control seizures appears to reduce the risk of birth defects for women with the disorder who become pregnant.

Bullying a Big Problem in Schools

Nearly half of about 200 sixth-grade urban middle school students reported being harassed by bullies at least once within the previous two weeks, a new study finds.

Great Moms Pass Parenting Skills to Daughters

Mothers who provide their children with a positive, nurturing environment most likely received the same kind of upbringing from their own mothers, researchers believe.

Quality Time Most Important for Babies

Working mothers with infants at home, take a breath or a sigh of relief. According to a new study, it's quality of time spent with baby -- not quantity -- that helps guide a toddler's social and intellectual growth.

SARS may spread in air, new studies warn

New research suggests the SARS virus, which killed 800 people after emerging in China in 2003, may spread through the air, and not just through human contact, making it more dangerous than previously thought.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Health Headlines - March 25

Abbott Says Withdrawing Attention Deficit Drug

Abbott Laboratories Inc. said Thursday it was halting sales of a 30-year-old attention deficit drug that a consumer group complained was too dangerous to stay on the market.

U.S. Drug Trials Proposal Unethical, Critics Say

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is flouting ethical practice by proposing that international guidelines protecting patients need not apply to clinical trials conducted abroad, critics said on Thursday.

Six Diseases Cause 73 Percent of Child Deaths: WHO

Six mainly preventable diseases account for 73 percent of child deaths each year, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Group Calls for Safer Asthma Drug Compounds

U.S. regulators need to do more to protect asthma patients from inhaled medicines created by pharmacists from bulk ingredients, a consumer advocacy group said on Thursday.

U.S. Advises Firms on Better Drug Safety Monitoring

U.S. health officials gave drug companies suggestions on Thursday on ways to improve safety evaluations of medicines during early-stage development and after they are on the market.

Depression May Up Risk of Dementia in Men

Men with a history of depression long before the onset of any memory or other cognitive problems have a substantially higher risk of developing dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease (AD), later in life, a study indicates.

Natural Serum Eyedrops Relieve Dry Eyes

Eyedrops made from a person's own serum are superior to artificial tear preparations for relieving signs and symptoms of severe dry eye disease, according to results of a study.

Healthcare Workers Risk Getting Asthma on the Job

Healthcare workers are at risk for occupational asthma, according to new data from four state-based surveillance systems that monitor work-related asthma cases. Latex and disinfectants are the main culprits.

Vietnam Confirms Two More Human Bird Flu Cases

A 17-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman have been infected by Asia's bird flu in Vietnam -- the hardest-hit country, with 34 deaths so far, 13 since December -- officials said on Friday.

China Shuts Down Blood Dealers to Curb AIDS Spread

China's health ministry has closed 147 illegal blood collection agencies and arrested dozens of people since last May to prevent the spread of the virus that causes AIDS, the Xinhua news agency said.

Doctors Disagree on Schiavo's Awareness

Is there any doubt that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Yes, argue those fighting to keep her alive, including Gov. Jeb Bush. Doctors have sparred about this before in court, and the most recent ruling upheld the diagnosis.

Two More Ill After Visiting Petting Zoos

Two more children have been stricken with life-threatening kidney infections after visiting petting zoos at fairs, bringing the total hospitalized in central Florida to nine, officials said Thursday.

Ireland Smoking Ban a Success

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Thursday lauded Ireland's workplace smoking ban, a year-old in five days, as a world-leading measure that would benefit future generations.

Colorado May Lose Status As Leanest State

For years, Colorado has been ranked the leanest state in the country with a reputation as a magnet for hard bodies who love the outdoors.

Florida Tuberculosis Cases Rise 3 Percent

After years of steady decline, the number of tuberculosis cases in Florida increased by 3 percent last year, state health officials said Thursday. Officials say the increase is being driven largely by new cases in immigrant communities.

Deaths Show Dangers of Household Chemicals

Two jail inmates assigned to a maintenance crew died over the weekend from inhaling toxic fumes after mixing cleaning products, and advocates were left repeating common-sense mantras they say are all too commonly ignored.

U.S. to Offer Reservists Health Insurance

The more than 400,000 National Guard and Reserve members mobilized since September 2001 for the fight against terrorism will be offered the choice of military health care coverage for as long as eight years after they return to civilian life.

Study: Cost Trumps Choice in Health Care

Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance are becoming more willing to accept limits on their choice of providers in order to save on their medical expenses, a new study found.

Gene-Diet Link May Shield Some Men From Prostate Cancer

Men with a common gene variation may be able to reduce their prostate cancer risk simply by altering their diet to include more antioxidants, a new study suggests.

PSA Test Plus Digital Exam Best at Spotting Prostate Cancer

A combination of both the blood PSA test and the digital rectal exam appears to work best for detecting prostate cancer, according to early results from an ongoing study.

Beating Cancer May Not Mean Beating Stress

Even though they've managed to conquer their disease, many cancer survivors still cope with emotional and physical effects that last for years, a new study finds.

Vitamin D Can Help Most Dialysis Patients

Vitamin D injections can greatly improve survival for most kidney failure patients on dialysis, according to a new study.

Human Tests of Avian Flu Vaccine to Begin in U.S.

The first U.S. trial of a vaccine against avian influenza, a potentially devastating viral infection, will begin early next month.

HRT Can Cloud Breast Cancer Screens

Hormone replacement therapy may make it hard to detect breast cancer among postmenopausal women because it can increase breast density, a new study suggests.

Deadly Ebola-like virus spreads to Angolan capital

The Marburg virus, an Ebola-like virus that has killed 98 people in northern Angola, has now spread to the capital Luanda, killing two people there, officials said.

Pneumonia vaccine could slash child mortality in poor countries

A vaccine tested in the West African state of Gambia could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor children at risk from the pneumococcal bacterium.

Bird flu claims second victim in Cambodia

A 28-year-old Cambodian has died of bird flu at a hospital in the capital to become the country's second victim of the virus, the health minister said as experts played down the threat of a major outbreak.

New data shows contraceptive pill could reduce risk of breast cancer

Young women who have a family history of breast cancer could substantially reduce their risk of developing the disease by taking the contraceptive pill, according to new research.

Uproar over British report over freedom to choose sex of child

A British parliamentary committee triggered charges that it was playing "Frankenstein" after saying Britons undergoing fertility treatment should have the right to choose their baby's sex.

India gets pat from WHO for war on TB, pledges to step up campaign

Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss pledged on World TB Day that India would step up its campaign against tuberculosis, as the WHO gave it a pat on the back for the strides it has already taken against the disease.

Myanmar reports no bird flu to FAO

Myanmar authorities told the FAO there were no cases of bird flu in areas where a report said thousands of chickens had suddenly died, the United Nations food agency said.

At least 25 polio cases in Niger last year, official says

At least 25 polio cases were recorded in Niger last year after efforts to eradicate the disease were stymied by obstruction in neighbouring Nigeria.

First bird flu tests in suspected Vietnam commune negative

The first bird flu tests carried out on several inhabitants of a village where residents reported an epidemic were all negative, a doctor in central Vietnam said.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Schiavo Case

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a plea from the parents of Terri Schiavo to restart her feeding on Thursday, leaving them nearly out of options and time in the seven-year legal fight for their brain-damaged daughter's life.

The highest U.S. court turned away Bob and Mary Schindler's request for an emergency order to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube, which was removed six days ago. The court did not explain its decision to stay out of the Florida family drama that was taken up by Congress and President Bush.

A Florida court rebuffed another last-ditch attempt to prolong Schiavo's life by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother. The Republican governor wanted a state welfare agency to take custody of the 41-year-old woman who suffered brain damage from a cardiac arrest when she was 26.

The court decisions signify the end was near in the wrenching legal dispute between Schiavo's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, and her parents over whether she should live or die, a case that snowballed into an emotional and highly politicized drama.

"We are very grateful for the court's ruling and we believe it effectively ends the litigation in this case," Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos, said after the Supreme Court decision.

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was disconnected under a Florida court order last Friday and doctors expected her to live a week to two weeks after the tube's removal.

"Terri is peaceful, she's resting comfortably. She's dying, she's in her death process," Felos said.


Schiavo's fate became a rallying point for anti-abortion crusaders, right-to-life advocates and Christian conservatives who used their political clout after Bush's re-election in November to lobby the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

U.S. lawmakers rushed through a law over the weekend giving federal courts jurisdiction over a case long the domain of state courts. But the unusual congressional effort was rebuffed by federal courts from Florida to Atlanta to Washington and lawmakers drew criticism for meddling.

A number of polls this week found a majority of Americans believe Congress was wrong to intervene in the case and backed the courts' view that Schiavo should be allowed to die.

"I'm saddened by the decision of the court to reject Terri Schiavo's case for life despite a compelling case for reexamination of the medical evidence," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said following the Supreme Court order.

"It is a sad day for her loving family and for their innocent and voiceless daughter."

Michael Schiavo has been consistently supported by state courts in his stance that his wife is in a persistent vegetative state and would not want to live in this condition. The parents maintain that Schiavo could improve with treatment and would not have wanted to die.

The Supreme Court twice last week refused to get involved in the Schiavo case.


Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, the state judge who has handled the Schiavo case for years, dealt another blow to the parents hours after the Supreme Court decision when he rejected a request from the state's Department of Children and Families to take custody of Terri Schiavo.

The petition said the state was investigating allegations that Schiavo had been abused and offered testimony from a neurologist who questions whether Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, as the courts have repeatedly ruled.

Felos sharply criticized Gov. Jeb Bush's attempts to circumvent the court rulings.

"It saddens me greatly that we have to run to court to get court orders to protect Terri Schiavo from the abuse of the state of Florida," he said. "The conduct of the executive branch of the state of Florida has been reprehensible in this case."

Three dozen protesters held vigil outside the Pinellas Park, Florida, hospice where Schiavo is being cared for.

"It's throwing away a life, denying her the right every human being should have," said Stan Zgurzynski, Florida state deputy for Catholic group Knights of Columbus.

The fight over Schiavo was not quite over. Greer's ruling could be appealed. And Felos said the Schindlers' attorneys had filed a new petition with U.S. District Judge James Whittemore, who this week rejected their request to have the feeding tube reinserted.

Health Headlines - March 24

Second Cambodian Dies from Bird Flu

Bird flu has killed a 28-year-old Cambodian man, officials said on Thursday, the 48th Asian victim of a virus experts fear could unleash a global influenza pandemic capable of killing millions of people.

U.S. Starts Human Tests of Avian Flu Vaccine

U.S. health officials said on Wednesday they have started human tests of a vaccine against avian flu, which experts believe could kill tens of millions of people if it becomes easily passed from person to person.

What to Do About Menopause? Even Experts Confused

Menopause does not usually cause severe symptoms apart from hot flashes, and little is known about alternatives to hormone replacement therapy with its risks of cancer and heart attack, experts said on Wednesday.

Schiavo Videotape Misleading, Experts Say

The videotape that runs endlessly on television stations around the world shows an apparently smiling Terri Schiavo being caressed by her mother's loving hand.

Death of Child Raises Mental Health Risk

The death of a child can cause not only devastating grief, but later serious mental illness as well, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Sleep Apnea Kills After Midnight, Study Finds

Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to die from heart attacks at night, while sleeping, than in the day, which is the time when everyone else is most vulnerable, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

Schiavo Case Highlights Poor Care for Dying in U.S.

The debate over keeping Terri Schiavo alive should highlight how badly death is handled in the United States, end-of-life activists said this week.

As Low-Carb Craze Wanes, Atkins Revamps Its Diet

Atkins Nutritionals, which championed a dieting craze that made millions of Americans shun bread and other carbohydrates, wants a do-over.

Medicare Offers Counseling to Help Smokers Quit

Older Americans who want to quit smoking can receive counseling through Medicare to help them kick their tobacco habit, but only if they suffer from certain diseases or health problems, government officials said on Tuesday.

Africa Lags in Fight Against TB, WHO Report Says

Tuberculosis has reached "alarming proportions" in Africa, where co-infection with the widespread HIV virus makes a lethal combination, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Thursday.

Genetically Modified Foods Eaten Regularly

Can animal genes be jammed into plants? Would tomatoes with catfish genes taste fishy? Have you ever eaten a genetically modified food? The answers are: yes, no and almost definitely.

Study Finds Toxic Dust Samples in 7 States

Americans are exposed to a variety of potentially dangerous chemicals in their homes from products such as computers, frying pans and shower curtains, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Fla. Investigate Deaths After Zoo Visits

Five children have contracted a life-threatening kidney infection, which health officials said may be the result of a rare infection picked up at petting zoos.

Schiavo Case Touches on Agonizing Issue

The drama over whether to keep Terri Schiavo alive, as her parents wish, or allow her to die, which her husband advocates, has played out in courts, Congress and newspapers. But this highly public struggle is usually private, faced daily by American families.

Planned Parenthood Denounces Record Search

Planned Parenthood officials charged Wednesday that efforts by two state attorneys general to seize patient medical records from the organization's clinics are aimed at discouraging women from seeking abortions and other reproductive health care.

FDA OKs Device to Treat Chest Aneurisms

A device to treat dangerous bulges in the main artery won approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday. The device is designed to prevent ruptures of the bulging weak spot in the thoracic aorta, the FDA said.

Indian Passage of Patent Law Slammed

International aid groups criticized India's passage on Wednesday of a new patent law ending the decades-old practice of allowing domestic drug companies to make low-cost copies of expensive Western medicines.

Blood Compound Won't Predict Colon Cancer Risk

While levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are increasingly used as an inflammation marker for cardiovascular disease, they won't help predict colorectal cancer risk in women, researchers find.

Antidepressants Don't Raise Heart Attack Risk

Underlying depression, not antidepressants themselves, may be responsible for the increased risk of heart attack associated with taking antidepressants, according to a new study.

Mom's Mouth Germs Could Spur Premature Birth

Pregnant women with poor oral health are more likely to deliver prematurely, researchers report.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Health Headlines - March 23

Medicare Offers Counseling to Help Smokers Quit

Older Americans who want to quit smoking can receive counseling through Medicare to help them kick their tobacco habit, but only if they suffer from certain diseases or health problems, government officials said on Tuesday.

Physical, Emotional Stress Trigger Heart Attack

A sudden surge of physical activity or bout of extreme emotional distress can precipitate a heart attack in people at risk, according to a recent review of medical literature.

U.S. Guidelines Aim to Spark Genetic Drug Research

Hoping to spur a movement toward "personalized medicine," U.S. regulators issued guidelines on Tuesday that urge companies to submit data on how genetic differences affect the way people respond to drugs.

Skin Cancer Rates in UK Could Triple

Rates of the deadliest form of skin cancer could triple in the next 30 years if Britons do not protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays, scientists said on Wednesday.

FDA Seizes Potentially Deadly Hospital Beds

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, citing a risk of suffocation, said on Tuesday it ordered the seizure of enclosed hospital beds made by Vail Products Inc.

Report Catalogs High Death Rate in Darfur

Violence, starvation and disease are killing people in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan at a pace four to six times greater than the usual mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa, a report said on Tuesday.

Endometrial Cancer Worse in African-American Women

African-American women with advanced endometrial cancer appear to have more aggressive tumors than Caucasian women, which may explain worse outcomes even when they receive the similar care, according to the results of a new study.

Benefits of Allergen Immunotherapy Persist

A three- to five-year course of allergen immunotherapy remains effective for more than five years after discontinuation of the shots, suggest the results of a survey of immunotherapy patients in Tennessee.

Computer Test Accurately Detects Early Alzheimer's

Researchers have developed a more accurate version of a standard test to detect dementia and cognitive impairment that takes only about 10 minutes to administer, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Delaying Food Introduction Won't Prevent Allergies

Delaying the introduction of highly allergenic foods -- other than milk -- does not seem to be effective in preventing food allergies,

States Consider Obesity Surgery Coverage

A proposal before Connecticut lawmakers would require insurance companies to cover the surgery for people with a body-mass index of 30 or more if a doctor deems the surgery medically necessary.

Millions Gave Up Flu Shots for Others

Some 16 to 17 million Americans voluntarily gave up their flu shot this past winter, so that the sick, the elderly and health care workers were protected nearly as much as in years past, government officials said Tuesday.

China Province to Test Workers for AIDS

China's southwestern province of Yunnan will require annual AIDS tests for people working in hotels, nightclubs and other entertainment outlets, a local official and the government's Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday.

Vegetative State Can Give False Hope

NEW YORK - In the family video played over and over on TV, Terri Schiavo seems to gaze fondly at her mother, with the hint of a smile. On Sunday night, as Congress took up debate on her case, her father told reporters that she responded to his teasing by making a face at him. "It tells us she's still with us," he said. But in Schiavo's condition, described as a persistent vegetative state, family members can be deceived by things like eye movements and reflexes, experts say.

"It creates this ironic combination of wakefulness without awareness," said Dr. James Bernat, a neurology professor at Dartmouth Medical School.

That's because in a persistent vegetative state, the brain centers that control wakefulness are functioning, but those that permit conscious awareness of oneself or the environment are damaged or destroyed.

As a result, patients close their eyes to sleep and open them when they wake up. If a doctor brushes the eyeball with a wisp of cotton, they may blink. If something gets caught in the throat, they will cough. There may be limited eye movements, though patients can't follow a person walking from one side of the room to another, for example.

That's in contrast to a coma, in which the eyes remain closed and a person is neither aware nor awake, or brain death, in which there is no sign at all that the brain is functioning.

Bernat, past chairman of the American Academy of Neurology's Ethics, Law and Humanities Committee, declined to comment specifically on the Schiavo case. He said outward signs of persistent vegetative state can give family members false hope.

"There's a normal tendency of family members to interpret (random) movements as evidence of awareness," said Bernat, who recalled seeing that happen with his own patients.

He said that when family members claim that a loved one in a persistent vegetative state is purposefully looking at them, he asks to accompany them to the bedside and see for himself. Sometimes, in fact, family members really have noticed genuine signs of consciousness and investigation shows the diagnosis was incorrect, he said. But in his experience, Bernat said, most of the time the family has been wrong.

Nobody can enter a patient's mind and discover what that person is experiencing, he noted. Doctors can only say that despite what family members might believe, "to the best of our ability we cannot convince ourselves there is any evidence of awareness," Bernat said. Doctors try to help the family understand how it's possible to be awake but not aware, he said.

Patients can recover after even a year or two in a persistent vegetative state caused by head trauma, Bernat said, although they generally continue to be disabled. However, he said a vegetative state that was caused by lack of blood or oxygen delivery to the brain and has gone on more than five years is considered permanent.

Schiavo, 41, has been at the center of a long and bitter court battle between her parents and her husband, who wants to remove her feeding tube so she can die.

Court-appointed doctors say Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, after her heart stopped beating temporarily 15 years ago, cutting off oxygen to her brain. She did not leave any written instructions about care, but her husband, Michael Schiavo, contends she told him that she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents dispute that, and deny their daughter is in a vegetative state.

Video showing the dark-haired woman appearing to interact with her family has been televised nationally. But a court-appointed doctor has said the noises and facial expressions are merely reflexes.

In caring for a person in a this condition, doctors are guided by what the patient would have wanted, Bernat said. Some have indicated they want to be treated while others have said they want to be left to die, he said.

Usually patients can breathe without a ventilator. As in the Schiavo case, long-term care involves a feeding tube to deliver fluids and food to the stomach. If family members ask to stop treatment, the tube is removed or medical teams are instructed not to treat infections, Bernat said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Health Headlines - March 22

When It Comes to Chocolate, Order Dark, Not White

Dark chocolate -- but not white chocolate - may help reduce blood pressure and boost the body's ability to metabolize sugar from food, according to the results of a small study.

Risk of Eye Disease Cut with Latest Contact Lenses

A new generation of contact lenses can significantly reduce the risk of severe eye infections, researchers said on Tuesday.

Limiting Carbs Results in Greater Weight Loss

Obese women who follow low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, may lose more weight in a four-month period than those who go on low-fat diets, new study findings show. The reason for the greater weight loss, however, is not clear.

Pushy Parents May Be Harmful for Kids' Health

Pushy parents could be doing more harm than good to their children's health, researchers said in a study released on Tuesday.

Computer Test Accurately Detects Early Alzheimer's

Researchers have developed a more accurate version of a standard test to detect dementia and cognitive impairment that takes only about 10 minutes to administer, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Seizure Drug May Be Harmful During Pregnancy

Women who take the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy may be raising their baby's risk of severe birth defects, according to reports in the medical journal Neurology. In contrast, another drug, lamotrigine, appears to be safe.

Hysterectomy Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Women who have undergone hysterectomy appear to be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), new research shows.

Genes Predict Stroke Risk with Sickle Cell Anemia

Researchers have come up with a genetic test that is highly accurate in predicting strokes in patients with sickle cell anemia, a disorder in which blood cells assume a sickle shape causing circulatory problems.

Rubella Eliminated from United States, CDC Says

Rubella, a virus that once caused tens of thousands of birth defects and deaths in a single outbreak, has been eliminated from the United States, health officials said Monday.

Johnson's Natrecor Worsens Kidney Risk

Natrecor, a drug used to treat heart failure, can worsen kidney function and make patients more likely to die, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

Waistline Good Indicator of Diabetes Risk

A man's waist size seems to be a stronger indicator of diabetes risk than the body-mass index.

Clean Water Said Key to Disaster Response

Tsunami-hit nations were able to avoid major outbreaks of disease mainly because of the rapid deployment of clean water and sanitation teams, the international Red Cross said Tuesday.

Expert: Asia Flu Cases May Be Undercounted

The incidence of a particularly lethal variation of influenza in Southeast Asia is probably greater than has been reported so far, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

Breath Test Could Spot Bioterror Bugs

A simple breath test currently under development could let doctors quickly identify who's been infected to any one of a number of bioterror agents.

Consumer Confusion Persists on Painkillers' Safety

Following months of public wrangling over the safety of cox-2 inhibitors and even with a federal advisory panel's endorsement to keep them on the market, consumers are still as confused as ever about these powerful drugs.

Most Migraines Won't Raise Women's Stroke Risk

Contrary to popular theory, the majority of migraines do not increase the risk of stroke in women, new research finds.

Adult Stem Cells Can Produce Brain Cells

Experiments involving chicken eggs may have hatched a major advance in stem cell research, as investigators watched adult human stem cells develop into functioning brain cells.

New Food Label Law Eagerly Awaited

New "plain language" food labeling requirements in the United States, which take effect less than a year from now, will reduce allergic reactions in people who have potentially life-threatening food allergies.

Disease-plagued Africa set to lose without cash for genome research

Scientists meeting in the Kenyan capital warned that Africa, a continent blighted by malaria and AIDS, is set to lose out on the benefits of genome research without adequate funding to facilitate further studies.

Japan's battle for hair loss solutions heats up

A corporate battle to provide hair loss solutions in Japan heated up with the nation's top cosmetics maker Shiseido launching a new tonic to rival the market leader.

Typhoid returns as Kinshasa residents still wait for drinking water

A typhoid epidemic has returned but the taps installed 15 years ago still can't provide drinking water to the residents of Kinshasa's crowded Kimbanseke area.

New cancer therapy reduces painful side-effects

Singaporean researchers have discovered a new way to combat cancer that delivers drugs with microscopic precision and minimises painful side-effects, a scientific institute revealed.

KFC contamination from cancer-causing red dye spreads to other products

The cancer-causing food coloring Sudan I has been found in other Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) products in China, as the vastly popular fast food giant suspended sales.

Traffic fumes linked to DNA damage

Traffic fumes can damage DNA, according to a study of toll-booth workers at a busy highway in Taiwan.

Portugal advises against travel to northern Angola due to deadly fever

Portugal advised its citizens not to travel to northern Angola because of an outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever which has killed more than 90 people since November.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Health Headlines - March 21

Congress Debates Right-To-Die Case

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation on Sunday aimed at prolonging the life of a brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, in an extraordinary intervention by Congress to move the Florida case into the jurisdiction of federal courts.

Senate Passes Legislation on Schiavo Case

The Senate passed a bill that could prolong Terri Schiavo's life while House Republicans, stalled by Democrats, scrambled to bring enough lawmakers back to the Capitol for an emergency vote early Monday.

Experts Question Reduced-Sugar Cereals

Experts who reviewed the lower-sugar versions of six major brands of sweetened cereals at the request of The Associated Press found they have no significant nutritional advantages over their full-sugar counterparts.

Schiavo Case Sparks Push for Living Wills

Terri Schiavo didn't have a living will. But because of her, thousands of other Americans won't make that same mistake.

Mobile Phones for Kids Raise Concerns

Parents should think twice before giving in to a middle-schooler's demands for a cell phone, some scientists say, because potential long-term health risks remain unclear.

Study: Abstinence Pledgers May Risk STDs

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

Sen. McCain: Baseball 'Can't Be Trusted'

Saying Major League Baseball "can't be trusted," Sen. John McCain warned Sunday that legislation might be needed to force the sport to change its steroids policy.

Giving Doctors the Data They Need

Switching doctors? Start the relationship off on the right foot with a few simple steps, advises Dr. Caroline Rudnick, a Saint Louis University family physician.

Study Confirms Effectiveness of Drug for Persistent Asthma

Adding the drug Xolair to an asthma patient's medication regimen helps cut emergency medical visits, new research confirms.

Scientists Take to the 'Airways' to Find New Asthma Treatments

Research focusing on inflammation of the airways in asthma may eventually lead to new therapies for the disease.

Thailand's dengue fever cases rise 75 pct over same period last year

An explosion of dengue fever in Thailand since the start of the year has health officials warning occurrences of the disease, already up 75 percent over the same period last year, will likely rise with the arrival of mid-year rains.

China plans national database of HIV/AIDS victims as epidemic looms

China plans to set up a national database containing the records of its HIV/AIDS victims in a bid to get a better grip of the extent of the epidemic.

S.African supermarket giants order clean-up after cancer food scare

South African supermarket giants have launched a sweeping clean-up after some products were found to be laced with a heavy-duty dye that can potentially cause cancer.

Majority of Britons favour change in abortion law

A majority of Britons believe the country's legal time limit to terminate a pregnancy should be reduced below the current maximum 24th week.

Indian woman suicides to donate corneas to blind sons

A 36-year-old Indian woman suicided allowing her to donate her corneas to two near-blind sons.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Health Headlines - March 20

Congress Intervenes to Keep Florida Woman Alive

In an effort to keep alive a severely brain-damaged Florida woman, federal lawmakers worked out a bill on Saturday aimed at restoring her feeding tube and pushing the right-to-die case back into court.

Canadians Face Long Waits for Health Care

A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere aplogies."

Schiavo Mom Seeks Action on Feeding Tube

The mother of Terri Schiavo appealed Saturday to politicians to take action requiring reconnection of the feeding tube that was removed from the severely brain-damaged woman on court order.

Armed and Ready for Allergy Season

It may seem cold now, but in a few short weeks trees, bushes and flowers will bud as allergy season kicks into high gear.

Allergy Medicine Under The Tongue May Be Preferred Method

Placing an allergy drug under a child's tongue instead of giving a shot may become an option for thousands of patients in the United States.

Corticosteroid Treatment Effective for Children's Asthma

New studies are confirming the benefit of treating young asthmatic children with inhaled corticosteroids.

British government orders review of relaxation of cannabis laws

The British government asked its top drugs advisory body to review a controversial decision downgrading the criminality of cannabis, citing evidence linking the drug to mental illness.

Eritrean youth debate female circumcision in dramatic fashion

At the end of a dirt track around a stage on the village square here outside Asmara, about 100 Eritreans impatiently await a public performance about a once taboo subject.

Ethiopia's food needs underestimated

Ethiopia's food aid needs have probably been underestimated, the U.S. envoy at the UN World Food Programme warned on a visit to Addis Ababa, urging the government not to let people "slip between the cracks."

Malabo citizens respond half-heartedly to cholera clean-up call - 7 hours ago
Trucks removed huge heaps of refuse from the streets of Malabo in response to a clean-up call by the Equatorial Guinea authorities in a bid to beat a cholera epidemic.

Great grandmother, 102, hailed as Britain's oldest to beat breast cancer

A great grandmother has been hailed as the oldest person in Britain to beat breast cancer at the grand age of 102, a newspaper reported.

134 die of meningitis in northern Ivory Coast

An epidemic of meningitis in northern Ivory Coast has killed 134, an aid group working in the area said, calling the situation "disastrous."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Health Headlines - March 19

UK Seeks Cannabis Health Checks

The British government said on Saturday it had asked for an assessment of its decision to ease the rules on cannabis after studies showed the drug's use may be linked to mental health problems.

Caffeine Impairs Sugar Metabolism

Caffeine intake makes insulin more resistant to changes in blood sugar levels, Canadian researchers report. This effect was observed both in patients with and those without diabetes and could not be reversed with regular exercise or weight.

Hostility More Common in Young Heart Patients

People under age 50 with heart disease are significantly more hostile than older patients, which perhaps places an extra burden on their heart, according to new study findings.

Overdoses Kill 70,000 Russians Every Year

Some 70,000 Russians -- close to 200 people a day -- die from drug overdoses, a top official said on Friday.

Folate Does Not Appear to Increase Chance of Twins

Despite some evidence to the contrary, the folate supplements women are advised to take before getting pregnant do not appear to significantly boost the odds of having twins, according to the results of a large study.

Florida Woman's Feeding Tube Removed

Doctors removed the feeding tube that has kept a brain-damaged Florida woman alive for 15 years Friday after U.S. lawmakers tried to prolong her life by subpoenaing her to appear before Congress.

Roche, Glaxo Await OK for Easier Osteoporosis Drug

A new once-monthly osteoporosis pill could be good news for sufferers of the brittle bone disease and a profitable new opening for Roche Holding AG and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, analysts believe.

Newly Identified Gene Mutation Raises Alzheimer Risk

Mutations in a region of the gene that codes for VEGF, a protein that stimulates blood vessel growth, are associated with to a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, Italian researchers report.

Alfuzosin Improves Sexual Function in Men

The drug alfuzosin relieves the symptoms of sexual dysfunction, which are common in men with lower urinary tract symptoms, a multinational team reports in the medical journal BJU International.

Measles Kills Hundreds of Nigerian Children

Hundreds of children have died from an upsurge in measles cases in Nigeria, despite a series of local vaccination campaigns aimed at combating the disease, health authorities said Friday.

Study: Abstinence Pledgers May Risk STDs

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

German Measles No Longer Threat in U.S.

German measles, one of the greatest fears of expectant mothers just a few decades ago, is no longer a health threat in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota to Tap Britain for Cheaper Drugs

Minnesota, the first state to operate a Web site that helps residents import cheaper medications from Canada, plans to expand the program to include British mail-order pharmacies, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday.

Decision to End Life Support a Common One

Hospitals and nursing homes don't track how many Americans die each year after some level of life support is withdrawn, but the number is likely to be at least in the tens of thousands, doctors said Friday.

Conjoined Chinese Twins Die Before Surgery

A pair of 3-month-old conjoined twin boys who shared a heart and other organs died before a planned surgery to separate them, one of their doctors said Friday.

Exercise May Help in Treating Depression

Though there's no definitive research showing exercise by itself can cure depression, many mental health experts agree that it has positive mental benefits and can be a useful tool in overall therapy.

Officials Boosting Mad Cow Research

The government will spend an additional $2 million on research into mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

Pre-Trial Hearing Begins for Vioxx Case

Lawyers filed into a federal courtroom Friday for the first pre-trial hearing in the federal Vioxx liability case, the start of a legal process expected to be complex, years-long and potentially very costly for the painkiller's maker, Merck & Co.

FDA Approves New Diabetes Drug Symlin

A new drug for diabetics who can't adequately control their blood sugar with insulin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

Sleep Apnea Differs in Men, Women

Researchers say they've found clinical differences between men and women with obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition in which breathing is frequently impeded during sleep.

Household Mold Doubles Child's Asthma Risk

Mold and dampness in the family home doubles the risk a child will develop asthma, British researchers report.

Gene May Be New Cancer Treatment Target

Canadian scientists have honed in on a gene that may provide a whole new target for cancer therapies.

Health Tip: Keep a First Aid Kit Handy

In case of emergency, a well-stocked first aid kit could be a lifesaver. Keep one in your home, in your car, and even at work. And keep one handy if you are hiking, biking, camping or boating.

Health Tip: Steady as She Goes

Infections, head injury, disorders of blood circulation affecting the inner ear or brain, certain medications and aging all may contribute to dizziness or balance problems.

Few Extra Pounds Put Kids at Risk for Adult Obesity

Just a few extra pounds can put children at greater risk of being overweight or obese and having high blood pressure when they're adults, researchers report.

Veterans Heavier Than Rest of U.S. Population

Veterans are more likely to be overweight than the general population, a new study finds.

To Stay Mobile, Keep Moving

Get moving, Boomers: a new study finds physical activity in middle age helps keep the body spry for years to come.

China urges business sector to help China fight AIDS

Vice Premier and Minister of Health Wu Yi urged domestic and international businesses to help China battle AIDS amid warnings that the number of sufferers was rising fast.

Mysterious haemorrhagic fever kills 87 in Angola

An outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever has claimed the lives of 87 people in northern Angola over the past four months.

Cambodia and WHO plan education strategy to fight bird flu

Cambodia and the UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) are devising a public education campaign to fight bird flu which will be funded by 40,000 dollars from the agency, an official said.

Production halted at three of nine Spanish nuclear plants

Three of Spain's nine nuclear power plants have seen production come to a halt owing to various faults, the country's nuclear watchdog CSN warned.

Zimbabwe opposition warns of major starvation

Zimbabwe's main opposition party warned that the country was headed for a "starvation of major proportions" due to President Robert Mugabe's failure to attract international aid.

African AIDS sufferers plea for India to drop patents bill

A group representing African victims of HIV/AIDS appealed to the Indian government to withdraw a controversial patents bill introduced in parliament that will bar firms in India from producing cheap copies of brand name pharmeceuticals.

Five-year-old becomes latest bird flu victim in Vietnam

A five-year-old boy in central Vietnam has tested positive for bird flu, which has already killed 34 people in the country, health authorities said.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Health Headlines - March 18

Senate Adds $500 Mln for Global AIDS Fund

The U.S. Senate on Thursday backed a $500 million increase in funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, almost tripling the sum asked for by President Bush.

Maggots...coming to a Hospital Near You

Phyllis Hulme's family and friends were aghast when she told them doctors planned to put maggots on her leg ulcer.

"I got some horrified looks. I think they thought: she's old, she doesn't know any better, she's gone a bit gaga," said the 81-year-old, who suffers from diabetes.

"But it's been marvelous. I used to feel like screaming sometimes, the pain was so bad, and the first night they were on the pain went."

It may sound gruesome, but it turns out that maggots are remarkably efficient at cleaning up infected wounds by eating dead tissue and killing off bacteria that could block the healing process.

Maggot medicine, in fact, has a long history. Napoleon's battle surgeon wrote of the healing powers of maggots 200 years ago, and they were put to work during the American Civil War and in the trenches in World War One.

With the arrival of modern antibiotics in the 1940s, however, maggots were consigned to the medical dustbin.

Now a new generation of physicians, keen to cut back on antibiotic use, is waking up to the creatures' charms. Some believe maggots are one of the most effective ways of treating wounds infected by the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

In a bid to prove the case for maggots conclusively, Dr Pauline Raynor of the University of York is recruiting 600 patients across Britain for the world's biggest ever maggot trial.

Her three-year study is being keenly watched by doctors and wound care specialists around the globe.

One third of patients -- selected at random -- will be treated with loose maggots, held in place by a dressing; one third with maggots contained in a gauze bag; and one third with hydrogel, a standard wound-cleaning therapy.


So far, most patients have been enthusiastic -- once they are reassured that the sterilized greenfly larvae will not start burrowing into healthy flesh.

"These maggots are only interested in dead and unhealthy tissue. Rather than strip a leg, they will start eating each other instead," Raynor said.

"Some patients obviously aren't very keen, but we've found the majority are willing to take part. It has not been a problem in terms of squeamishness."

The maggots are tiny when applied to the wound but can grow to half a centimeter after they have eaten their fill.

In the long run, maggots could save patients a lot of pain -- and governments a lot of money -- if wounds heal faster.

Britain alone spends some 600 million pounds ($1.15 billion) a year treating leg ulcers, which affect 1 percent of the population and can persist for years.

Conventional treatment may take months, while maggot therapy normally involves just two or three sessions, each of 3 days.

Dr Kosta Mumcuoglu of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, who has been practicing maggot therapy since 1996, says international interest in the treatment is growing fast.

"It's becoming much more acceptable. It is changing from an alternative treatment to a conventional method," he said.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved maggots as a "medical device" and Britain has also made them available on prescription within the National Health Service, demonstrating how maggots are entering the mainstream, he said.


Mumcuoglu is president of the International Biotherapy Society, which supports the medical use of living organisms to fight disease -- including bee venom for rheumatism and leeches to clear congested blood in plastic surgery.

He estimates there are now 2,000 practitioners of maggot therapy and more than 20,000 people have been treated since the mid-1990s, mainly in Britain, Germany, the United States and Israel.

That has created a niche business in breeding surgical grade fly larvae. Produced from sterilized eggs, a batch of maggots for treating one wound sells for around 80 to 100 pounds ($153-$192.

Commercial companies already exist in Germany, and the Biosurgical Research Unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, Wales -- Britain's sole maggot breeder -- plans to spin off its production operation in April to create a new firm, Zoobiotic Ltd, with the backing of venture capitalists.

"We've got big ambitions," said unit head Dr Steve Thomas, who will be technical director of the new firm. "There has been a substantial increase in demand in maggot usage over the last 5 years, and it's growing year by year." ($1=.5199 Pound)

Sleep Breathing Problem Raises Heart Attack Risk

People who suffer from an illness that disrupts their breathing while they sleep are more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke, Spanish researchers said on Friday.

Acupuncture Shown to Relieve Pelvic Pregnancy Pain

Acupuncture and exercise can help relieve pelvic pain during pregnancy, Swedish researchers said on Friday.

Perdue Recalls 230,700 Pounds of Chicken Strips

Privately held Perdue Farms on Thursday recalled 230,700 pounds of cooked chicken breast strips due to possible underprocessing, the U.S. Agriculture Department said.

Gene Mutation Allows Aspirin's Anti-Polyp Effect

Regular aspirin use reduces the risk of colon polyps in women with a common gene mutation that slows aspirin breakdown, a new study shows. In contrast, when this mutation is absent, aspirin seems to have no effect on polyp risk.

High Cholesterol Drives Prostate Cancer

High blood cholesterol can make prostate tumors grow faster, researchers said on Thursday in another study linking high-fat diets with prostate cancer.

Xolair 'Add-On' Useful in Uncontrolled Asthma

Individuals with severe persistent asthma who fail to gain adequate control despite standard treatment with multiple anti-asthma drugs, may benefit from the addition of Xolair (omalizumab), a study suggests.

Eli Lilly Adds Warning to Sepsis Drug Xigris

Eli Lilly and Co. added a warning to its sepsis drug Xigris after two trials linked it to a higher death rate in patients who have single organ dysfunction and have recently had surgery, a company letter made public on Thursday said.

Long-Acting Insulin Unaffected by Exercise

In people with insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes, exercise does not appear to increase the rate of absorption of insulin glargine (Lantus), a long-acting insulin analog, according to study findings.

FDA Approves New Diabetes Drug Symlin

A new drug for diabetics who can't adequately control their blood sugar with insulin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

Medicare to Cover Costs of Stent Procedure

The federal government announced Thursday that it would begin covering the cost of an expensive medical procedure for certain Medicare patients at high risk of stroke because of a blockage in their carotid arteries.

Study: More Young Teens Use Inhalants

Nearly one of every dozen 12- and 13-year-olds has used inhalants such as glue or shoe polish to get high, a government study says.

Report: Obesity to Lower U.S. Life Span

U.S. life expectancy will fall dramatically in coming years because of obesity, a startling shift in a long-running trend toward longer lives, researchers contend in a report published Thursday.

Bush FDA Choice Rattles Advocacy Groups

President Bush's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration sidestepped allegations from Senate Democrats that something was awry at the agency, but he promised he would improve its drug safety reviews.

Push for Cancer Treatments Intensifies

The war on cancer has some fortified soldiers. Some of the nation's biggest drug companies are investing an increasing amount of resources toward finding treatments for the disease.

Panelists Tied to Study They're Probing

Six of the nine scientists serving on an expert medical panel investigating a U.S.-funded AIDS study are receiving grant money from the agency at the center of the probe, according to documents and interviews.

Cost Keeping Seniors from Dental Care

Cost is the major barrier that prevents many seniors from getting the dental care they need, according to a new study.

ADHD Treatment Improves Teens' Grades, Confidence

Treating teens diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) boosts their grades, provides higher self-esteem and improves family relationships, according to the results of a new U.S. survey.

Health Tip: Bird Flu Is Nothing To Sneeze At

At least 45 people have died recently in Southeast Asia from avian influenza, better known as bird flu. The World Health Organization offers these suggestions if you're traveling to the continent, especially to rural areas:

Avoid contact with chickens, ducks or other poultry unless absolutely necessary.

Children are at high risk if they play where poultry are found. Teach your children these basic guidelines: avoid contact with any birds, their feathers, feces, or other waste; wash hands with soap and water after any contact; do not sleep near poultry.

Do not transport live or dead chickens, ducks or other poultry from one place to another even if you think the birds are healthy.

Do not prepare poultry from affected areas as food for your family or animals.

If you unintentionally come into contact with poultry that could be infected, wash your hands well with soap and water after each contact; remove shoes outside the house and clean them of dirt; and check your temperature for seven days at least once daily. If you develop a high fever, visit a doctor or the nearest health-care facility immediately.

Health Tip: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by prolonged contact with almost any liquid other than water. The condition can stem from putting your baby to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, juice, soda or other soft drink, or by allowing your baby to suck on a bottle or breast-feed for a prolonged period, either while awake or asleep.

Take these steps to help prevent decay, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Never put your child to bed with a bottle.
Only give your baby a bottle during meals.
Teach your child to drink from a cup as soon as possible, usually by age one.
Keep your baby's mouth clean.
Use water and a soft child-sized toothbrush for daily cleaning once your child has seven to eight teeth.

By the time your toddler is 2, you should be brushing his teeth once or twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bedtime. Once you are sure your child will not swallow toothpaste, you should begin using one that contains fluoride.

Herbal Supplements Largely Untested in Kids

As the primary users of herbal remedies, more women are giving botanical medicines to their children for various ailments. But science has come up short on evidence that these popular herbal remedies actually work for kids.

Many Women Would Like to Pick Sex of Child

Four out of 10 women being treated for infertility said they would choose the gender of their next baby if they were given the option, according to a new study.

Anger Hurts Younger Hearts

High levels of anger may help drive coronary artery disease in many patients under 50 years of age, researchers say.

How Lifesaving Transplants Turned Deadly

Almost a year after rabies turned potentially lifesaving organ transplants into a death sentence for four people, scientists are evaluating what went wrong and what could be done to improve the system.

Suffering and poverty as forgotten parasite sucks blood of China's farmers

In the lush tropical countryside around Wanning city in south China's island province of Hainan a silent killer lurks, causing immense human suffering and exacting an awesome toll on the local economy.

Hookworm, a one-centimeter-long (0.4-inch-long) parasite named after the tooth it uses to latch onto the small intestine of its victims, is considered one of the great forgotten plagues of the early 21st century.

"It's very widespread in rural areas around here," said a doctor surnamed Li at the Wanning City People's Hospital. "Many of the patients are children."

Hong Kong food poisoning cases rise to 31

Seven more people have been hit with a rare form of food poisoning after eating contaminated scallops, taking the number of reported cases to 31 since the weekend.

India to launch satellite exclusively for telemedicine

India plans to launch a communications satellite exclusively for health care so patients and doctors in remote rural areas can consult specialists in cities, the head of the country's space agency told reporters.

Zimbabwe plans for food imports after poor harvest

Zimbabwe, which told international relief agencies just under a year ago that it had enough food stocks, announced that it was importing grain in the wake of a disappointing harvest.

Ethiopians clamor to call country's first toll-free AIDS hotline

Thousands of Ethiopians are taking advantage of a new toll-free telephone hotline to educate themselves about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, how to avoid getting it and how to treat it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Health Headlines - March 17

Some Herbs May Help Ease Children's Ills

Certain herbal supplements show promise for treating children's colds, skin allergies and sleep problems, according to a new research review.

Obesity Threatens to Cut U.S. Life Expectancy

For the first time in generations, Americans' average life expectancy could shrink because of an obesity epidemic sweeping the United States, researchers said on Wednesday.

Indonesia Reports Bird Flu Outbreak in Chickens

Bird flu has re-emerged in Indonesia's main island of Java and South Sulawesi province since the start of the year, prompting the government to slaughter affected fowl, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

New Method Could Halve Flu Vaccine Time

Using new methods to make influenza vaccines instead of the current egg-based approach could cut production time in half in case of an outbreak of deadly avian flu, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Mercury Pollution, Autism Link Found

Mercury released primarily from coal-fired power plants may be contributing to an increase in the number of cases of autism, a Texas researcher said on Wednesday.

Senate Republican Moderates Oppose Medicaid Budget

A brewing Senate rebellion against President Bush's proposed savings in the Medicaid health program for the poor gained strength on Wednesday and some senators said they think they have enough votes to restore the spending.

FDA, Biogen Warn Over Multiple Sclerosis Drug

Biogen Idec's multiple sclerosis drug Avonex can cause severe liver damage, U.S. regulatory officials and the company warned on Wednesday, the latest in a series of blows to MS patients.

X Chromosome Shows Why Women Differ from Men

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of the female X chromosome which is linked to more than 300 human diseases and may help to explain why women are so different from men.

House Backs Federal Court Role in Schiavo Case

The U.S. House late on Wednesday approved a bill that would give federal courts the power to hear the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman whose feeding tube is scheduled to be removed on Friday.

FDA Approves Amylin Diabetes Drug Symlin

Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. won U.S. approval to market its diabetes drug Symlin, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Drug Cos. Intensify Cancer Treatment Push

The war on cancer has some fortified soldiers. Some of the nation's biggest drug companies are investing an increasing amount of resources toward finding treatments for the disease.

Large Doses of Vitamin E Could Be Risky

Large doses of vitamin E — widely touted as an elixir of youth — do not protect against heart attacks and cancer and might actually raise the risk of heart failure in people with diabetes or clogged arteries, a study found.

AIDS Panel Gets Money From Agency in Probe

Six of the nine scientists serving on an expert medical panel investigating a U.S.-funded AIDS study are receiving grant money from the agency at the center of the probe, according to documents and interviews.

Brazil Warns of Breaking AIDS Drug Patents

In its latest bid to reduce the cost of HIV and AIDS drugs, Brazil's government has threatened to break the patents of American pharmaceutical firms unless they share their technology with local drug makers.

Survey: Conn. Top State With Healthy Kids

Child magazine has ranked Connecticut the best state in the country when it comes to healthy children.

AIDS Harming Police Force in Mozambique

About 150 police officers are dying every year of AIDS-related illnesses in this impoverished southern African country, police commander Miguel dos Santos said Wednesday.

Three Die From Mystery Illness in Angola

Three people died from an unidentified illness Wednesday at a hospital in northeastern Angola, bringing the death toll from a mystery ailment there to 64 in the past three months, officials said.

American Youngsters Yawning Through Class

Many American fifth graders suffer jet lag-like symptoms and are too tired to learn because they're not getting enough sleep, new research concludes.

New Clues to Cause of Iron Disorder

Researchers say they have identified a protein they believe is key to the iron disorder hemochromatosis.

Drug Therapy Combats Some Cancers in HIV Patients

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may prevent excess risk of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancers in people with HIV.

Immune System May Help Fuel 'Meth' Binges

One hallmark of the current surge in crystal meth (methamphetamine) use across the United States is that users often go on extended, drug-fueled binges.

Compound Could Lessen Damage of Fast Food

Researchers report that a form of soluble cellulose, when added to fast foods famous for their high-fat content, slows down absorption of fat molecules, at least in animals.

Journal Commentary Labels FDA 'Timid and Toothless'

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to sweat under the spotlight as a commentary in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine accuses the agency of seeming "timid and toothless."

'Inert' Female Chromosome May Be Active

Something is stirring in the supposedly inactive female chromosome that plays a major role in genetic differences between men and women, researchers report.

Oysters May Be an Aphrodisiac After All

Throughout the ages, foods such as asparagus, almonds, avocado, bananas, basil, chocolate, eggs, figs, foie gras and, of course, raw oysters have been touted as aphrodisiacs.

Bird flu would be nightmare in North Korea, experts say

Health experts are hoping that reports of a bird flu outbreak in North Korea prove unfounded, saying the disease would prove a nightmare to combat inside the isolated Stalinist state.

Vietnam plans reserve of one million doses of bird flu vaccine

Vietnam, which has reported the most human deaths from bird flu, wants to reserve one million doses of a vaccine against the disease once tests are complete and production begins, a top research scientist said.

Indonesia orders isolation of two provinces over bird flu outbreaks

Indonesia's agriculture minister said that trade in chicken from two provinces had been banned to prevent the spread of bird flu which had killed thousands of chickens there.

Australian researchers test Chinese herbs to treat dementia

Researchers at an Australian hospital have begun human trials to test whether Chinese herbs can slow the progress of dementia, the scientists said.

Figure-conscious Singapore sets up fat-measuring machines

Singapore has installed fat-measuring machines at petrol stations and supermarkets as part of the government's efforts to combat obesity in the city-state, health officials said.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Health Headlines - March 16

AIDS Cocktails Prevent Cancer, Study Finds

Drug cocktails taken to control the AIDS virus may not only keep patients healthy but may protect them against some cancers caused by the infection, international researchers said on Tuesday.

Brazil Takes Step Toward Breaking AIDS Patents

Brazil has moved a step closer to breaking AIDS drugs patents by asking U.S. companies for the right to copy four products so the country can slash health costs, the government said on Tuesday.

FDA Panel Backs 2 New Whooping Cough Vaccines

A U.S. advisory panel on Tuesday urged approval for two new vaccines designed to elevate immunity against whooping cough, a disease that is making a comeback despite widespread immunization of children.

Disparities in Heart Health Persist in the U.S.

The American Heart Association's goal of reducing heart disease and stroke by 25 percent by the year 2010 is broadly challenged by racial and socioeconomic disparities in these diseases.

Study Raises Doubts About Vitamin E Supplements

Daily vitamin E supplements do not prevent cancer, strokes or heart attacks in older people with vascular disease or diabetes, and may increase their risk of heart failure, a study said on Tuesday.

Medicare to Cover Praecis Prostate Cancer Drug

Medicare will pay for Praecis Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s prostate cancer drug Plenaxis in certain patients, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

Diabetes Not Tied to Increased Lung Cancer Risk

While studies have shown that the rate of some cancers is increased in patients with diabetes, the risk of lung cancer apparently is not, according to UK researchers.

More Children May Mean More Cavities for Mom

For women, a bigger brood brings a bigger risk of dental problems, new research reports.

Clinical Rules Don't Predict Osteoporosis in Women

Clinical prediction rules used by doctors to identify patients who will develop osteoporosis, which take into account various risk factors, are not useful in identifying women likely to develop the bone-thinning condition, new research shows.

Radiation for Breast Cancer Now Less Toxic to Heart

Radiation therapy for breast cancer is known to raise the risk of death from heart disease, but new research shows that this complication has become less common over the years, presumably due to improvements in radiation techniques.

Obesity Higher in Some European Countries

At least seven European countries now challenge the United States in size — at least around the waistline. In a group of nations from Greece to Germany, the proportion of overweight or obese men is higher than in the U.S.

Hospital Leaders Leery of Error Reporting

Many hospital administrators are leery of the push toward mandatory reporting of medical errors, saying such practices will lead to more lawsuits and ultimately less openness without improving patient safety, a survey found.

Conn. Needs $100M for Stem Cell Research

Connecticut needs to commit $100 million for stem cell research if it wants to compete for the best researchers in the pioneering field, scientists from Yale and the University of Connecticut said.

Experts Say 30 Minutes of Exercise Enough

Sixty to 90 minutes of exercise? Every day? That's what the government now suggests. Even people working out at the gym say most folks won't consider that, and the experts behind the government's recommendation say 30 minutes a day is enough for most.

Vietnam Nurse Tests Negative for Bird Flu

A Vietnamese nurse earlier suspected of contracting bird flu after caring for an infected patient has tested negative for the virus, health officials said Tuesday.

Study: Pacemakers Can Cause Heart Failure

People with the most common pacemaker types are more likely than similar people without pacemakers to die from or be hospitalized for gradual heart failure, sometimes within six months.

Test Could Be Predictor of Heart Disease

A simple and inexpensive test for elevated white blood cell counts could be used to predict heart disease, a study of more than 66,000 women suggests.

Health Tip: Eyeing Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and many European countries. The neovascular or "wet" form of the disease is responsible for 90 percent of cases of severe vision loss.

Higher Elevations Healthier for Hearts

That Rocky Mountain high may help keep hearts healthy, according to a new study that finds lifespan increases as the elevation at which a person chooses to live climbs skyward.

Obesity Ups Child's Asthma Risk

Obese children are more likely to suffer asthma and wheezing than other children, according to a new study.

New Test Predicts Lung Disease Death Risk

A new, noninvasive lung test provides a better assessment of the potential risk of death for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), say Spanish researchers.

Drug Therapy as Good as Invasive Procedures After Heart Attacks

Most older people who have heart attacks survive just as well with drug therapy as they do with invasive procedures like bypass surgery or angioplasty, a new study finds.

Many Hospital Execs Oppose Mandatory Error Reporting

A new survey of hundreds of executives running hospitals in six states finds a majority object to state laws requiring hospitals to report major and minor medical errors.

WHO seeks details from North Korea over reported outbreak of bird flu

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had asked North Korea for information after a news agency reported there had been an outbreak of bird flu at a farm in the capital, Pyongyang.

South Korean scientists say kimchi could cure bird flu

An extract of South Korea's famed spicy fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi could cure bird flu and other chicken diseases, scientists said.

Taiwan to fine pregnant women for smoking

Taiwan will fine pregnant women for smoking in a bid to ensure healthier babies and curb the number of female smokers which is on the rise, health officials said.

Tippling Aussie women healthier than the teetotallers

Women who have one or two alcoholic drinks per day are healthier than teetotallers, according to Australian research.

British judge postpones ruling on keeping premature baby alive

The decision on whether to keep a critically ill baby alive through artificial means was postponed for another five weeks, after a court heard the parents' third legal attempt to save the premature girl.

Cardinal tells Catholics to reject Britain's Labour over abortion

The Catholic church in Britain is backing the opposition Conservative Party's support for a reduction of the legal time limit for abortions, withdrawing its traditional support for the ruling Labour Party.

AIDS epidemic slowed by change in sexual habits

Changes in sexual behavior helped more to slow the spread of HIV in the early 1990s than the ensuing introduction of AIDS therapy drugs, a study revealed.

Singapore may ask HIV carriers to help trace sexual partners

Singapore may introduce legislation empowering health workers to ask HIV patients for information on their sexual partners, a senior health official said in remarks published.