Saturday, April 30, 2005

Health Headlines - April 30

Study Links Middle Age Obesity to Dementia

The most convincing research so far suggests that being fat in your 40s might raise your risk of developing dementia later in life.

Health Tip: When You're Dizzy and Your Ears Ring

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that's among the most common causes of dizziness.

Health Tip: Does Your Mouth Feel Dry?

People get chronic dry mouth when the glands that make saliva are not working properly.

Rosacea Affects Most People in Multiple Ways

Most of the 14 million people in the United States with rosacea have more than one type of the facial disorder, suggests a new survey.

The Many Mysteries of Stem Cells

At its most basic, the hope of stem cell research is to make human beings more like salamanders.

Nitric Oxide May Have Connection to Heart Failure

Enzymes that make the gas nitric oxide can help protect the heart but can also promote heart failure, reports a Johns Hopkins Medicine study in the May 2 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Heat, Radiation Combo Strikes Strong Blow Against Tumors

Microwaves are not just for day-old coffee anymore.

Extra Pounds Equate to Knee Damage

Being overweight greatly increases the risk of suffering torn knee cartilage, according to a University of Utah School of Medicine study.

Exercise, Diet Aid Youthful Obesity

There may be hope yet for the growing number of obese American youngsters and for the adults they will become.

Gene Therapy Trial Focuses on Leg Pain

A major new clinical trial could offer hope to patients with a common cause of disabling leg pain.

Pollutants Prove to Affect Male Fertility

Environmental factors may be affecting men's fertility, a new Scandinavian study contends.

Overcoming Breast-Feeding's High Hurdles

Marianne C. Stook, mother of 1-year old Annie and 4-year-old Heidi, was determined to give her children the benefits of breast-feeding.

New Diabetes Drug Comes From Lizard

A drug derived from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday as a way for type 2 diabetics to better control their blood sugar levels.

Food Fact:
Mesclun around.

Translate this peculiar French word as "easy nutrition" for folks on the run.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Don't be a night owl.

Exercising just before bedtime may be asking for trouble.

FAQ of the day:
Are vitamin D supplements a good idea?

A daily multivitamin will provide safe amounts of vitamin D and other nutrients. Consider a calcium supplement as well, if there's no other rich source of calcium in your diet. You need both calcium and vitamin D to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and possibly colon cancer.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Health Headlines - April 29

Vitamin D, Calcium Supplements Don't Cut Fracture Risk for Elderly

Vitamin D and calcium supplements appear to have no effect in preventing elderly people from getting fractures, according to the results of two major studies released Wednesday night.

Health Tip: Is Your Baby Colicky?

If your baby is crying a lot, you should call your doctor. Your pediatrician will want to check your baby to make sure there is no medical reason for the crying.

Health Tip: Are Corns and Calluses Causing Pain?

You ask a lot of your feet. You cram them into shoes that often don't fit well or are uncomfortable, subjecting your skin to friction and pressure. Skin protects itself by building up corns and calluses -- thick, hardened layers of tissue.

Campaign Hopes to End Disparities in Breast Cancer Care

A grassroots campaign has been launched to increase awareness that breast cancer death rates for minority women in the United States are higher than for white women, and to ensure equal access to quality care for all women.

Pregnancy and Epilepsy Cause Tough Choices

Pregnant women with epilepsy face a difficult decision: to continue treatment with anti-epileptic drugs and risk birth defects or stop taking the drugs and risk uncontrolled seizures that can harm the fetus, contends a report in the journal Epilepsia.

Autism: New Insights But Cure Still an Elusive Goal

Autism is a confusing and frustrating developmental disorder, one that is hard to diagnose, hard to treat and impossible to cure.

Design of HIV Vaccines May Have Been Faulty

New information about how HIV evades the body's immune system may lead to more effective approaches to creating a vaccine, says a Duke University Medical Center study.

U.S. Adds New Mosquito Repellents

The U.S. government has introduced the element of choice into mosquito repellents.

Liver May Be Prime Source of Good Cholesterol

About 80 percent of the "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol produced by the body comes from the liver -- a finding that may lead to new ways to increase HDL levels, new research suggests.

Weighing Risks, Benefits of Prescription Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been faulted by some critics for waiting too long to take drugs off the market that carry potentially dangerous side effects.

Cyclosporine Linked to Return of Liver Tumors

High levels of the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine may lead to the return of tumors in liver cancer patients who've had a liver transplant, says a new Italian study.

HRT Poses Yet Another Health Dilemma

A new British report presents women with a potentially cruel choice if they want to use hormone replacement therapy to ease the symptoms of menopause: The kind of therapy that does not increase the risk of breast cancer does increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

Weight in Middle Age Linked to Cognitive Trouble in Old Age

Excess poundage in midlife could spell cognitive trouble in your golden years, claims a large new study that links obesity to dementia.

Food Fact:
Sap to it!

Guess how many gallons of raw sap it takes to make 1 gallon of pure maple syrup?

Fitness Tip of the day:
Eat your veggies.

Listen to your mom; veggies will enhance your workout.

FAQ of the day:
What is mesclun?

Mesclun is an assortment of baby lettuce leaves, usually prewashed. The mix may be expensive, but there's no waste. It's so convenient you may find yourself eating a mesclun salad with every meal.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Health Headlines - April 28

Aging Global Population Spurs Increase in Cancer

An aging population has fueled a rise in cancer and contributed to a doubling in breast and lung cancer cases in the past 30 years, researchers said on Thursday.

More Retailers Limit Cold Medicine Access

Kmart and three of the nation's largest drugstore chains said Wednesday that they will move certain nonprescription cold and allergy medicines behind pharmacy counters, making them the latest in a string of retailers to limit access to products whose ingredients can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine.

Health Tip: Men Who Have Osteoporosis

Two million American men have osteoporosis, and another 12 million are at risk for this disease, the National Osteoporosis Foundation says.

Health Tip: Itching for Skin Care?

The average adult uses seven different skin-care products each day, including fragrances, astringents, moisturizers, sunscreens, skin cleansers, hair care items, deodorants/antiperspirants, and hair and nail cosmetics.

Steady Diet of Soy Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

Regular consumption of soy protein may reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 22 percent, claims a study in the April issue of The International Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Too Little Sleep Could Cause Diabetes

If your schedule robs you of slumber, you may be setting yourself up for diabetes.

New Sleeping Pill Promises Long-Term Results

Insomniacs can now try another sleeping pill for desperately needed slumber.

Homicides More Likely at Workplaces That Allow Guns

Murders are three times more likely to occur in workplaces that permit employees to carry weapons than in workplaces that prohibit all weapons, new research finds.

Key Player in Inflammation Found

A protein called IKKa shuts down inflammation following an immune response to invading pathogens, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.

Mesotherapy Not Proven as Weight-Loss Method

Mesotherapy, touted as a nonsurgical method of losing weight, has not been proven to be a safe alternative to lipsuction, and patients should be wary until the procedure is found to be safe and effective.

Nonprofit Nursing Homes Beat For-Profits in Study

Nonprofit nursing homes in the United States generally provide better care than their for-profit counterparts, says a study in the April issue of Medical Care Research and Review.

New Scanners Catch Blood Clots in Lungs

The latest version of computerized X-ray scanning can give doctors the long-sought ability to tell whether someone has potentially fatal blood clots in the lung, European researchers report.

Childhood Infection Takes Toll on Seniors, Too

A common childhood respiratory infection, long overlooked in the elderly, is emerging as a significant health problem in that group as well.

Food Fact:
The world's No. 1 fruit?

Believe it or not, it's not the apple or banana.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Set reasonable goals.

Want to lose 30 pounds or have killer abs? Great, but remember: Every long journey starts with one step.

FAQ of the day:
Will eating blueberries improve my balance?

They seem to help rats keep their footing. When researchers at Tufts University in Boston fed rats antioxidant-rich extracts of blueberries, strawberries or spinach for eight months, the animals were protected from age-related declines in brain functions, including cognitive function. For some reason, those that received the blueberry extracts were also better able to keep their balance when walking over small rods.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Health Headlines - April 27

Breast Cancer Drug Shows Lifesaving Promise

The news that two trials of the breast cancer drug Herceptin were halted early due to promising results was hailed by experts as a major advance in the treatment of a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Ultrasound Spots Bowel Complication in Newborns

Using a form of ultrasound called color Doppler sonography to measure blood flow to the intestines of newborns can help radiologists spot a serious complication of a bowel disease called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Access to Mammography On the Decline

Access to mammography may become a problem for American women if staffing shortages at screening centers continue, according to a new study.

New Technique Helps Treat Tumors

The use of short pulses of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) shows promise as a way to enhance gene therapy treatment of cancer without destroying healthy tissue, says a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Genetic Defect Calls for Colon Cancer Screening

Researchers have found a way to ease the burden of screening for people considered to be at high risk of colorectal cancer and other malignancies because of a suspected genetic defect.

A Pinch of Spice Helps Keep Drivers Alert

Here's something for all you drivers that may be even better than that new car smell.

Combo Artery Surgery Needs More Study

Combining carotid artery and coronary artery surgeries may increase the risk of stroke, according to new Canadian research.

Consumer Ads Can Alter Prescribing Patterns

Direct-to-consumer advertising appears to be affecting prescribing practices, according to new research that shows doctors are influenced by patient requests for antidepressant medications.

Exercise May Slow Alzheimer's

Exercise may prevent damaging changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's, thereby lowering the risk of developing the disease, a new study involving mice suggests.

Variety of Exercise May Ward Off Dementia

Older people who stay active in a wide variety of ways seem to have a better chance of warding off dementia, according to research that found it's the diversity, not intensity, of the exercise that counts.

Arizona Surrogate Mother Gives Birth to Quintuplets

An Arizona woman who agreed to be a surrogate mother for a couple unable to have children gave birth to five baby boys on Tuesday at a Phoenix hospital, officials said.

U.S. Ponders Loosening NIH Ethics Rules

Strict new ethics rules imposed on National Institutes of Health staff to prevent lucrative deals with drug companies may be loosened if warranted, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said on Tuesday.

Panel Urges New Rules for Stem-Cell Research

Research using stem cells from human embryos is going ahead with or without federal support and must be regulated, a panel of experts said on Tuesday.

Exercise as Good as Surgery for Shoulder Injury

Surgery is not superior to graded exercise training for treatment of rotator cuff injury, according to results of a comparative trial conducted in Denmark.

Food Fact:
The perfect food?

Here are five good reasons it just might be lentils.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Find the right activity.

Answers to three questions will tell you if your exercise program is right for you.

FAQ of the day:
Why are my hips and thighs so big?

The hormones that maintain a woman's fat reserves for pregnancy and lactation also help determine where fat is stored. Despite what you see in magazines, a so-called "pear" shape is perfectly normal for a healthy woman. In fact, the female distribution of body fat in the hips and thighs has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and breast cancer. Women who tend to have more of a male distribution of body fat, with fat stored around the waist, are at higher risk for these diseases.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Health Headlines - April 26

More Girls Try Taking Steroids to Tone Up

An alarming number of American girls, some as young as 9, are using bodybuilding steroids - not necessarily to get an edge on the playing field, but to get the toned, sculpted look of models and movie stars, experts say.

Target Redesigns the Pill Bottle

Target Corp. is turning the old pill bottle design on its head - literally. Target pharmacies this month rolled out a flattened bottle with easier-to-read labels and plastic rings that can be color-coded for each family member.

Gene Therapy May Hold Back Alzheimer's

The first attempt at gene therapy for Alzheimer's patients appeared to significantly delay worsening of the disease in a few people who have tested it so far, scientists reported Sunday.

N.J. Sees Healthy Work Force As Economical

New Jersey officials hope to keep skyrocketing health insurance costs in check by encouraging tens of thousands of state government workers to lead healthier lifestyles.

FDA Orders Heart-Risk Info on Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration is ordering that more information about the risk of death from a heart failure drug be added to the package insert for doctors.

Latino Diet Changes Deemed Health Crisis

Urban Latin Americans are experiencing a health crisis based on new eating habits that include fewer traditional foods and less physically active lifestyles, researchers said Friday.

Cholera Epidemic Eases in Senegal

A cholera epidemic in Senegal has eased due to a successful government-sponsored awareness campaign, but the disease still infected 752 people and killed 13 in the past week, a senior health ministry official said Monday.

Longs Drugs to Move Meth Ingredient Behind Counter

Pharmacy chain Longs Drug Stores Corp. said on Monday it would move products used to create the illegal drug methamphetamine behind the pharmacy counter in all its stores within the next few months.

Genentech Drug Helps Post-Surgery Breast Cancer

Genentech Inc. said on Monday its breast cancer drug Herceptin improved survival in certain women with early-stage cancer who underwent surgery, sending its shares up 10 percent in after-hours trading

Elderly Benefit From Dual Lung Cancer Therapy

A patient's age isn't a limiting factor for combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer, says a study in the June 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

Gene Therapy Eyed as Alzheimer's Treatment

New research suggests that gene therapy could slow the devastating mental decline of those with Alzheimer's disease by stopping brain cells from dying.

Consent Forms Often Tough to Understand

Many research consent forms are too difficult for many people to read and understand, says a University of Michigan Health System study.

Children With Soft-Tissue Cancers Face Risk of More Tumors

Many more youngsters are surviving cancer, but at what cost?

Surgery Benefits Children With Epilepsy

Surgery reduces seizures and increases IQ in children with epilepsy, according to a German study in a recent issue of Epilepsia.

Drinking-and-Driving On the Rise Again

The decline in drinking-related auto accidents that began in the early 1990s may be over: A new survey suggests Americans are hitting the bottle more often now before they hit the road.

Antiplatelet Drug May Help Aspirin Prevent Stroke

A combination of the clot-preventing drug clopidogrel (Plavix) and aspirin was more powerful than aspirin alone in reducing formation of tiny but threatening blood clots in a study of people at very high risk of stroke, European researchers report.

Food Fact:
Magic beans.

Beans can help reduce cancer risks -- but you may want to give them a good rinse before cooking.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Less is more.

Surprise! A few short exercise sessions a day can be as valuable as one longer session.

FAQ of the day:
Why do women need more body fat than men?

It's all about hormones. A woman's body is designed for childbearing and breast-feeding, so her hormones ensure she has a minimum level of body fat. This is why amenorrhea occurs in women who undereat and/or overexercise -- the percentage of body fat drops too low to provide the energy needed to sustain healthy pregnancy and lactation. On the plus side, estrogen helps limit the risk of heart disease by maintaining the average woman's blood-cholesterol profile in a healthier state than a man's.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Health Headlines - April 25

Study a Positive Sign on Alzheimer's

The first attempt at gene therapy for Alzheimer's patients appeared to significantly delay worsening of the disease in a few people who have tested it so far, scientists reported Sunday.

Outbreak of Angola Virus Under Control

Medical teams trying to stamp out the worst recorded incidence of Marburg virus in Angola are beginning to get the deadly outbreak under control as cooperation from stricken communities improves, the U.N. health agency said Saturday.

Food Fact:
Herbal essence.

Herbs add discreet flavor to a dish, if you handle them just right...

Fitness Tip of the day:
Patience pays.

If you don't get results right away, don't quit -- buff takes time.

FAQ of the day:
What is a healthy level of body fat?

Healthy adult males' generally accepted range of body fat is from 15 - 22%; healthy women range from 20 - 25%. Elite athletes may lower their body fat through exercise, but they also tend to be genetically lean. Women who reduce their body fat by 1/3 or more through intense exercise and/or restricted eating may depress their estrogen production too far to sustain a normal menstrual cycle. Not only is this likely to cause infertility, it's known to cause bone loss and osteoporosis in young women.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Health Headlines - April 24

U.N.: Marburg Virus Coming Under Control

Medical teams trying to stamp out the worst recorded incidence of Marburg virus in Angola are beginning to get the deadly outbreak under control as cooperation from stricken communities improves, the U.N. health agency said Saturday.

Angola at Critical Stage in Marburg Battle -WHO

Angola is at a critical stage in its fight against an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus and must step up its drive to bring the disease under control, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) said Saturday.

N.Y. Looks Into Foster Kids in Drug Trials

A city agency that put more than 400 HIV-positive foster children into clinical trials for AIDS drugs has asked for an independent review of the program after children's rights advocates said it amounted to exploitation.

Researcher to Seek Clinical Trial on ALS

A University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher said he would ask federal regulators Friday to approve the first clinical trial injecting special stem cells into the spinal cords of people with the degenerative nerve ailment called Lou Gehrig's disease.

Dieting Hot Line Offers Eating Habit Tips

Dial the phone, drop some pounds. This month, a University of California hot line began offering 20 recorded messages on healthier eating habits.

CDC: Most Flu Virus Samples Destroyed

At least 99 percent of the killer flu samples mistakenly sent to laboratories around the world by a medical supply house have been recovered and destroyed, and there have been no infections, the government said Thursday.

Study: 1 in 5 Teens Tried Painkillers

About one in five teenagers have tried prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, with the pill-popping members of "Generation Rx" often raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, according to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Experts Weigh Hibernation's Healing Powers

Consider it hibernation-on-demand. Researchers plunged mice into almost a state of suspended animation and then revived them, with no apparent ill effects, in an experiment that is generating excitement because it might ultimately lead to new ways to treat critically sick people.

Probe of FDA Breast Implant Review Sought

Six women's groups are asking Congress to investigate the Food and Drug Administration's review of silicone-gel breast implants, citing an agency e-mail that they say suggests officials were under inappropriate pressure to approve the devices.

Food Fact:
Ginger, no ail.

Want a neat trick for making health-giving ginger easier to grate?

Fitness Tip of the day:
Buddy up!

Struggling to stick to your exercise program? Try working out with a partner.

FAQ of the day:
Can I be fit and fat?

While obesity is strongly associated with increased health risks, recent population studies suggest much of that risk may stem from poor fitness. Increased physical activity makes a difference when combined with a calorie-controlled diet. As your fitness improves, you'll boost your health and feel better, even with only modest weight loss.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Health Headlines - April 23

Sponge Contraceptive Returning to Market

A contraceptive sponge for women is returning to the U.S. market for the first time in a decade, the manufacturer said on Friday.

The over-the-counter Today Sponge will start reappearing on store shelves this summer, maker Allendale Pharmaceuticals said. The company won the needed government clearance of its production facilities, Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Susan Cruzan confirmed.

Colgate Total in Spotlight Amid Triclosan Concerns

New research indicating that products containing bacteria-fighting triclosan could expose consumers to a probable human carcinogen is bringing attention to Colgate-Palmolive Co., as its Colgate Total toothpaste contains triclosan.

Meds for Breathing Problems Can Raise Heart Risks

Of the various drugs that are used to treat respiratory diseases such as asthma, oral steroids and theophylline that are most likely to cause an irregular heart rhythm, Spanish and US researchers report.

Sleepless Elderly Prone to Falls

Elderly nursing home residents with insomnia have an increased risk of falling, researchers report.

80-Year-Olds Do Well with Heart Artery Bypass

Many people in their 80s benefit as much as younger patients from surgery to bypass blocked coronary arteries, according to New York-based researchers.

Pain Course Helps Cancer Patients and Partners

Involving both patients with end-stage cancer and their caregivers in a pain control program has benefits for both, results of a pilot study suggest.

Provigil Doesn't Help MS Fatigue But Aspirin Might

Provigil, a drug used to treat the sudden-sleep disorder narcolepsy, does not affect fatigue experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS), results of a trial suggest.

Experts Downplay OTC Painkiller Risks

New research on Norwegian smokers presented at a major U.S. cancer conference this week found that long-term use of certain over-the-counter painkillers raises risks for heart attack and stroke.

Genes May Point to Aggressive Breast Cancers

Researchers say they're working on a promising gene-based method of identifying whether breast cancer has spread beyond the breast.

Wanted: Organ Donors

A little more than 50 years ago, doctors at a Boston hospital performed the first successful human organ transplant, transferring a donor kidney to a dying man from his identical twin.

Gene Variant Yields Clues to Brain Cancer

A specific genetic trait appears to double the survival rate of patients with the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme, researchers report.

Drunk Driving Accidents On the Rise Again

The decline in drinking-related auto accidents that began in the early 1990s may be over: A new survey suggests Americans are hitting the bottle more often now before they hit the road.

Cameras at Intersections Can Reduce Accidents

Red-light traffic cameras may reduce crash-related injuries at busy intersections by as much as 30 percent, according to a review of international studies.

Food Fact:

To get the most from garlic, you may have to rough it up a little.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Lift weights, lose weight.

Marilyn Monroe knew it, and you should, too: For good health and a great shape, dumbbells are a girl's best friend.

FAQ of the day:
How can I get heart-healthy omega-3s without fish?

First, make sure you include plant sources of omega-3s every day. It's also important to limit the amount of highly polyunsaturated oils in your diet, because they compete with omega-3s. Olive oil is a safe choice. Plant-based sources of omega-3s such as English walnuts, soy foods, flax seeds and leafy green vegetables.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Health Headlines - April 22

Experts Weigh Hibernation's Healing Powers

Consider it hibernation-on-demand. Researchers plunged mice into almost a state of suspended animation and then revived them, with no apparent ill effects, in an experiment that is generating excitement because it might ultimately lead to new ways to treat critically sick people.

CDC: Most Flu Virus Samples Destroyed

At least 99 percent of the killer flu samples mistakenly sent to laboratories around the world by a medical supply house have been recovered and destroyed, and there have been no infections, the government said Thursday.

Ailing Specter Now Pushes Stem Cell Research

Sen. Arlen Specter is pushing legislation to expand stem cell research with the perspective of a man fighting a deadly illness.

Antibiotics Disappoint in Heart Studies

Two very large studies have reached the disappointing conclusion that regularly taking antibiotics doesn't prevent heart disease, as some scientists had hoped.

Study: 1 in 5 Teens Tried Painkillers

About one in five teenagers have tried prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, with the pill-popping members of "Generation Rx" often raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, according to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Midnight Snacker? Blame Your Genes

Is midnight snacking keeping you up late at night and keeping you off your diet? A faulty gene may be to blame, researchers said on Thursday.

Partnership to Roll Back Malaria Accused of Failing

An international partnership of more than 90 organizations and countries to reduce global deaths from malaria has failed to control the disease and may have done more harm than good, The Lancet medical journal said on Friday.

Health Tip: What's Behind Compulsive Overeating?

Compulsive overeating is characterized by uncontrollable binging, followed by feelings of guilt and shame. It is different from bulimia in that it does not involve any purging.

Sizing Up That 'Look of Love'

When a woman walks into a crowded room, what her eyes do in the first few seconds may determine how attractive she is to any man meeting her gaze.

Folic Acid Fortification Cuts Birth Defects

Countries that mandate the fortification of wheat flour with folic acid can bring about steep declines in serious birth defects called neural tube defects, a new study from Chile suggests.

CT Brain Scans Optimize Stroke Treatment

Special brain scans using computed tomography (CT) perfusion imaging may improve outcomes for stroke patients by helping doctors better identify patients who would benefit from clot-busting drugs or clot-retrieval devices, a new study finds.

Beer, Red Wine Both Boost Blood Pressure

Raise a glass to higher blood pressure: A new study finds that beer and wine both boost it slightly, and by about the same amount.

Food Fact:
No freezer burn!

Some frozen veggies may actually be a better bet than fresh.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Lobby cardio.

If you're running late on a business trip and can't get to the gym, "hallway laps" can fill the exercise gap.

FAQ of the day:
Which oil should I use?

Each has advantages. Olive oil is highest in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (about 84%); canola oil has less (about 60%), but it contains omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat than olive oil. All fats contain varying amounts of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; they are usually referred to according to the type of fatty acid that predominates. Omega-3s are a special type of polyunsaturated fat that's been shown to support a healthy heart.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Health Headlines - April 21

Study: Radical Diets Can Lead to Obesity

Adolescent girls who are depressed or try radical dieting like vomiting are more likely to become obese than those who eat high-fat foods or sometimes gorge themselves, a four-year study suggests.

Soccer Players' Injury Rates Tracked in British Study

Soccer players are more likely to suffer injuries in their sport than gymnasts, tennis players and swimmers, researchers said on Thursday.

Soccer players' injury rates tracked in UK study

Soccer players are more likely to suffer injuries in their sport than gymnasts, tennis players and swimmers, researchers said on Thursday.

Hot Dogs Raise Risk of Pancreatic Cancer - Study

A diet containing lots of processed meats, like hot dogs and sausages, raises the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a large multiethnic study unveiled on Wednesday.

Busloads of Doctors Rally at Capitol for Reform

Physicians in white coats filled most of the west lawn of the US Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, chanting for "tort reform" and carrying signs protesting Congress's failure to pass legislation to address spiraling malpractice insurance premiums.

Canada OKs Cannabis-Based Painkiller

Canada has become the first country in the world to approve a cannabis-based painkiller for patients suffering multiple sclerosis, a move applauded by those with the disease and proponents of medical uses for marijuana.

So Is Obesity Bad for You or Not?

New statistics published this week questioned the U.S. government's assertion that obesity causes nearly as many deaths as smoking in a finding certain to confuse many.

Authorities: Internet Drug Rings Crushed

Authorities said Wednesday they have shattered Internet rings that illegally peddled drugs worldwide to tens of thousands of people, turning the Web into a drug pipeline for teenagers and abusers.

WHO: All Samples of Killer Flu Virus Found

All samples of the killer influenza virus sent outside the United States have been destroyed except for one in Lebanon, the U.N. health agency said Wednesday.

Antibiotic Regime Doesn't Cut Heart Risk-Studies

Long-term antibiotic treatment designed to fight a common but stubborn bacterial infection does not reduce the risk of heart attack, according to two studies released on Wednesday.

11 States Have Waiting Lists for AIDS Drugs

More than 600 low-income AIDS patients in 11 U.S. states are on waiting lists for medicines as funding for assistance programs falls short, a report released on Wednesday said.

Mom's Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Daughters

Mothers who eat fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and while nursing may reduce the risk of breast cancer in their daughters by as much as 40 percent, a new study of mice found.

Health Savings Accounts Won't Help Uninsured: Report

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), coupled with high-deductible health plans, will result in fewer than 1 million of the 45 million uninsured Americans getting new health coverage, says a report released Wednesday.

Food Fact:
Fennel club.

Seeds of this parsley kin can be a life saver if you have stomach pain.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Dyna-band on the run.

Next time you head out on a business trip, pack a Dyna-band and a jump rope -- small items with big rewards.

FAQ of the day:
What are the fattiest foods?

The worst offenders are stick margarine, solid vegetable shortening and commercially baked products, including donuts, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries. Foods that seem a little more wholesome, such as toaster waffles and wheat crackers, can also contain significant amounts of trans fats. A general rule of thumb: The higher the total fat in a product, and the higher hydrogenated oils appear in the ingredient list, the more trans fat it contains.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Health Headlines - April 20

Researcher Plans Sunshine, Sleep Study

Encouraged by initial results, a Saint Louis University medical school researcher is exploring whether exposure to morning sunlight can help elderly nursing home residents have a better night's sleep.

Heroin Addicts Seek Hard-To-Get Medicine

Krystal began using heroin when she was 14 years old, and it didn't take long for her to become hooked. The teen dropped out of school, lost a ton of weight and hocked her belongings to support a $200 a day habit.

Nobel Economist Says Fat Americans Trust in Science

A Nobel Prize-winning economist on Tuesday offered a theory for why more Americans apparently choose to stay fat: they are counting on medical progress to cure any ailments the extra weight might cause.

Obesity Creates Need for Oversized Caskets

When the funeral director saw the fat man in the small town, they engaged in some friendly banter about death. "You'd tell him, 'You're going to have to go on a diet. You've got to lose some of that weight," said John C. Rudder, owner of Rudder Funeral Home in Scottsboro.

Study: Vitamin D Helps Fight Lung Cancer

Getting enough vitamin D may be a matter of life or death. A provocative new study suggests it plays an important role in surviving lung cancer.

Study Questions Heart Failure Drug

A genetically engineered drug that was hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of heart failure when it was approved in 2001 might actually raise patients' risk of dying soon after treatment, researchers say.

WHO Says Killer Flu Strains Still Sought

South Korea has joined Mexico and Lebanon as countries that have yet to destroy all samples of the killer influenza virus they received as part of routine test kits, the U.N. health agency said Tuesday.

Study Casts More Doubt on OTC Pain Meds

Smokers who regularly took certain popular pain killers cut their risk of developing oral cancer but increased their chances of dying from heart-related problems, according to a study that raises fresh questions about the long-term use of Advil, Motrin and Aleve.

Target to Clamp Down on Cold Medicines

Discount retailer Target Corp. will no longer allow unfettered access to cold medicines that are used to make the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.

Wash. County to Reward Workers for Keeping Healthy

King County, the most populous county in Washington state that includes Seattle, is adopting a health care plan starting in 2007 that will reward employees for maintaining a healthy lifestyle by charging them lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Health Tip: Visiting Petting Zoos

Petting zoos allow children of all ages to come face to face with animals such as cows, goats and sheep. Unfortunately, these animals sometimes can harbor nasty germs that can be passed to people.

Health Tip: Choosing the Right Surgeon

Your doctor suggests you have an operation. But how do you go about finding a qualified surgeon?

Post-Attack Vaccine Plus Antibiotics Best Against Anthrax Release

A combination of immunization plus antibiotics is the most cost-effective way to treat people who may have been exposed to anthrax during a bioterrorism attack, a new study finds.

Happy People Make for Healthy People

A happy camper is a healthy camper, say British researchers who have unearthed evidence of a biological connection between a positive sense of well-being and reduced risk for disease among middle-aged men and women.

Fluorescence Improves Brain Tumor Surgery Outcomes

Using a fluorescent marker to aid in the surgical removal of malignant brain tumors improves patients' prognosis and survival, a new German study finds.

Food Fact:
Soy to the world.

Think soy is boring? Edamame just might change your mind.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Be a road scholar.

It's easy to find out where you can work out on a business trip, if you know where to look online.

FAQ of the day:
Can I take a pill to get the benefits of soy food?

In order to get the benefits of soy, a supplement alone won't do. You'll need to eat soy food, for both soy protein and soy isoflavones, to get the full range of health benefits. Pills will just give you the isoflavones. Only soy foods like tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy protein powder provide both.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Government Issues 12 New Food Pyramids

Concerned about steadily expanding waistlines, the government flipped the food pyramid on its side, adding a staircase for exercise and giving consumers 12 individually-tailored models for improving their eating habits.

Inside the pyramid released Tuesday, rainbow-colored bands representing different food groups run vertically from the tip to the base. The old single, triangle-shaped pyramid had a horizontal presentation of food categories that many found confusing.

Exercise is key to the new system. Fitness expert Denise Austin delivered a pep talk about the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity, represented on the new pyramids by the figure of a person climbing steps toward the tip. Also in store are new Internet tools to help follow the guidelines.

The new guide, dubbed "MyPyramid," encourages Americans to customize their diet and exercise regime along 12 models geared to specific calorie needs and levels of physical activity.

Food groups are represented by six different colors: Orange for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruits, yellow for oils, blue for milk products and purple for meats and beans. The bands are wider for grains, vegetables, milk products and fruits, because people should eat more of them.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns called the new guide "a system of information to help consumers understand how to put nutrition recommendations into action."

People have steadily grown fatter since the food pyramid debuted in 1992. A report last month in The New England Journal of Medicine contended that obesity, particularly in children, was shaving four to nine months off the average life expectancy.

Johanns said the 1992 pyramid had "become quite familiar, but few Americans follow the recommendations." He said that knowledge about nutrition and food consumption patterns has grown significantly in the past dozen years and is reflected in the new food guidance symbols.

"If we don't change these trends, our children may be the first generation that cannot look forward to a longer life span than their parents," said Eric Bost, the Agriculture Department's under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

Food companies announced Tuesday they will distribute posters and guides for teachers and parents next fall aimed at reaching 4 million students. Materials for students to take home will be in both English and Spanish and will include math, nutrition and science activities.

One big change is intended to help people control their portion sizes. The old pyramid explained its advice in "serving" sizes, but now, to make its advice more understandable, the government will switch to cups, ounces and other household measures.

The switch was recommended in a 70-page booklet, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005," that was developed by a panel of scientists and doctors and released in January. As the basis for revising the pyramid, the guidelines emphasize choosing good carbohydrates over bad ones; for example, choosing bread made from whole-grain flour instead of white flour.

They also recommend eating 3 ounces of whole-grain foods a day; eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day; and drinking 3 cups of fat-free or lowfat milk a day.

Besides the suggested 30 minutes of daily exercise to reduce the risk of chronic disease, the government also advises even more exercise to prevent weight gain or maintain weight loss.

In all, there were 23 general recommendations and 18 suggestions for older people, children and other special populations.

That's too much to cram into a symbol that is supposed to be clipped out and stuck to the refrigerator, said Eric Hentges, director of the Agriculture Department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

The Agriculture Department will offer Web pages that let people appraise their diet and exercise habits. Such a tool has already been available through the agency's Web site; the Interactive Healthy Eating Index has a notice on its home page that it will soon be updated.

Even if the symbol and online tools don't motivate people to change their habits, they'll still have some healthier choices. Food companies have been removing trans fats from their products and adding whole grains because of the government guidance.

"If you get the industry involved and make them feel that they're doing a good thing and that they're getting credit for doing a good thing, they'll do it. They'll change their product," said K. Dun Gifford, president of Oldways Preservation Trust, a Boston-based think tank that specializes in food issues.

Critics have raised questions about the public relations agency hired to help create the new version of the pyramid. The firm, Porter Novelli, has food companies as clients, but both Agriculture Department and Porter Novelli officials have said the firm's industry work is handled separately and there would be no conflict of interest.

Hentges said his staff of scientists, economists and nutritionists isn't equipped to promote its new approach. If it's not marketed effectively, he said, "then we're not going to be able to get this behavior change or improve anything for Americans."

Health Headlines - April 19

La. Psychologists Begin Prescribing Drugs

The fight over whether psychologists should be allowed to prescribe medication, though they lack medical degrees, sparked a fierce debate about patient safety and a high-powered push to get the new law passed last year.

Target to Clamp Down on Cold Medicines

Discount retailer Target Corp. will no longer allow unfettered access to cold medicines that are used to make the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.

Doctors Warn Against Obesity in Toddlers

Warning that the path to obesity can start during toddler-hood, pediatric experts say parents should make sure 3- and 4-year-olds get an hour of active play each day along with five fruits and vegetables.

Substandard Drugs Threat to Heart Patients - Study

Substandard generic drugs are putting the lives and health of heart patients at risk, researchers said Tuesday.

Pancreatic Cell Transplant Done with Living Donor

Japanese scientists said on Tuesday they have reversed a patient's diabetes by conducting the world's first transplant of pancreatic cells from a living donor.

Health Tip: Multi-infarct Dementia

Multi-infarct dementia is the second most common cause of dementia in older people.

Health Tip: Managing Menopause

While menopause was once dreaded by many women, today's women are leading happy, healthy and productive lives. The key to staying youthful and active is good nutrition and regular physical exercise.

Web Site Checks Up On Hospital Quality

Not every hospital in the United States provides superior care: An institution esteemed for its cardiac program, for example, may be not as good in managing pneumonia. Or maybe the facility closest to your home has a poor record of treating heart attack and you'd fare better at a rival institution across town.

Antibody Promising Against Variety of Cancers

An antibody called Sphingomab shows promise in treating some of the most deadly kinds of tumors, according to studies presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, Calif.

Brain Injections Lower Alzheimer's Plaques in Mice

Injections of antibodies greatly reduced levels of beta-amyloid plaque -- considered a key factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease -- in the brains of mice, according to a new study.

Weight, Smoking Affect Back Pain Surgery Success

Weight, smoking history, injury-related litigation and other patient-specific characteristics have a big impact on the success or failure of spinal surgery for back pain, researchers report.

Daily Aspirin, Ibuprofen Cut Smokers' Oral Cancer Risk

Smokers who've tried but failed to kick their habit may want to pop a daily aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen (Aleve) to help cut their risk of mouth cancer, new research suggests.

Painkillers May Protect Against Colon Cancer

Ever since Vioxx and its sister drugs hit the headlines, attention has been focused on the unintended cardiovascular risks of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Health Headlines - April 18

Web Site Checks Up On Hospital Quality

Not every hospital in the United States provides superior care: An institution esteemed for its cardiac program, for example, may be not as good in managing pneumonia. Or maybe the facility closest to your home has a poor record of treating heart attack and you'd fare better at a rival institution across town.

Antibody Promising Against Variety of Cancers

An antibody called Sphingomab shows promise in treating some of the most deadly kinds of tumors, according to studies presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, Calif.

Vietnam Sees a Long Fight Against Bird Flu

The bird flu virus which has killed 36 people in Vietnam may not be contained until 2007 because the way it is spreading still baffles experts, officials said Monday.

Skin, Hair, and Nails

The skin is our largest organ. If the skin of a typical 150-pound adult male were stretched out flat, it would cover about 2 square yards and weigh about 9 pounds. Our skin protects the network of tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies. Our eyelids have the thinnest skin, the soles of our feet the thickest.

Turner Syndrome

Turner syndrome is a medical disorder that affects about one in every 2,500 girls. Dr. Henry Turner, an endocrinologist, first described the condition in 1938, when he observed a set of common physical features in some of his female patients. It wasn't until 1960 that a chromosomal abnormality associated with the condition was actually described.

Growth and Your 4- to 7-month-old

Sometime during this period, your baby will probably begin to explore the world of solid food. Once this happens, he'll be increasingly influenced by taste, texture, and his own personality and preferences.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is usually caused by bacteria or viruses (viral meningitis is also called aseptic meningitis). Less common causes include fungi, protozoa, and other parasites. Sometimes certain medications, cancers, or other diseases can inflame the meninges, although such noninfectious cases of meningitis are much rarer.

Web Site Gives Info on Grapefruit/Drug Interactions

As documented in a number of studies released since the 1980s, grapefruit and grapefruit juice can dangerously interact with common prescription medications. Now, cautionary information about grapefruit-drug interactions is available on a Web site,

Study: N.M. Gay Men Not Getting HIV Tests

A state Health Department study has found gay men in New Mexico are not getting regular tests for HIV, meaning many are finding out they have the virus when they become very ill.

WHO: Virus Sent to Mexico, Lebanon Missing

Shipments of a killer influenza virus destined for testing in Mexico and Lebanon remain unaccounted for, but the U.N. health organization said 15 other countries that received the samples were expected to have destroyed them by Saturday.

Once Half-Ton Man Now Weighs 530 Pounds

Patrick Deuel used to be called the half-ton man. But on Friday, three months after leaving the hospital, Deuel weighed in at 530 pounds — a quarter-of-a-ton.

Food Fact:
Slice of heaven?

Is pizza healthy any way you slice it? No, but you can make it so...

Fitness Tip of the day:
Lose 5 lbs. a year without dieting.

One simple change in your daily routine can help you burn extra calories and shed excess pounds.

FAQ of the day:
Can soy save me from prostate cancer?

Soy's isoflavones exhibit several cancer-protective effects, but one relates directly to reducing prostate cancer risk. Isoflavones inhibit an enzyme that converts testosterone into an active form (dehydrosterone) associated with prostate cancer risk. Dehydrotestosterone, made primarily in the prostate, regulates the prostate cell's growth. Soy isoflavones have little effect on testosterone itself.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Health Headlines - April 17

Group Changes Policy for Virus Test Kits

The group that certifies medical labs' virus identification skills said Saturday it will state more clearly what to include in test kits, aiming to avoid another scare like the one when samples of a dangerous flu strain were sent to labs worldwide.

"Instead of saying, 'We want influenza A or influenza B' or whatever it is we want, we're going to be more specific, down to a subtype level," said Dr. Jared Schwartz of the American College of Pathologists, which ordered the kits from Meridian Bioscience Inc. of Newtown, Ohio.

The pathologists group also will check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure the agency considers all test viruses low-risk, Schwartz said Saturday.

The comments came after a week of reports of Meridian's inadvertent distribution of H2N2, a strain also called the "Asian flu," to 4,700 laboratories. A lethal form of that virus triggered a 1957 pandemic that killed up to 4 million people.

Schwartz said Meridian officials told him Friday they hadn't determined how the mix-up occurred but were looking into labeling procedures between it and the company that supplied the virus to Meridian.

Meridian CEO William Motto, reached at home Saturday, said the company's only comment would come in a news release. Meridian's Web site had no statement Saturday on the flu sample mix-up.

Experts Warn on Expense of U.S. Drugs

About 130 million Americans swallow, inject, inhale, infuse, spray, and pat on prescribed medication every month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates. Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country.

The number of prescriptions has swelled by two-thirds over the past decade to 3.5 billion yearly, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical consulting company. Americans devour even more nonprescription drugs, polling suggests.

Recently, safety questions have beset some depression and anti-inflammatory drugs, pushing pain relievers Vioxx and -- most recently —- Bextra from the market. Rising ranks of doctors, researchers and public health experts are saying that America is overmedicating itself. It is buying and taking far too much medicine, too readily and carelessly, for its own health and wealth, they say.

Actor James Garner Heads Up New Lupus Campaign

Actor James Garner, whose daughter has lupus, is alerting women to the risks and dangers of this common but poorly understood illness in a new campaign.

The "Get into the Loop" campaign features a 30-second television ad that explains how lupus can start with seemingly minor problems such as fatigue, fever and joint pain but can lead to more serious complications, even death.

In the ad, Garner says: "Lupus has scarred my youngest daughter's life. Protect yourself. Get the facts. Get into the Loop."

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack its own healthy tissues and organs. Affecting about 1.5 million Americans, lupus strikes most between the ages of 15 and 44. Women account for 90 percent of lupus patients.

A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine found lupus to be directly responsible for plaque build-up in arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke, and about 50 percent of lupus patients develop related kidney disease that can potentially result in kidney failure, requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.

The "Get into the Loop" campaign is a project of the Lupus Research Institute, the National Kidney Foundation and WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease.

Report: Schiavo Was Not Abused

Florida state investigators have found no evidence of abuse, neglect or denial of needed care in the case of Terri Schiavo, according to a report in Saturday's New York Times.

Schiavo, who doctors say was in a vegetative state since suffering a heart attack 15 years ago, became the center of an intense right-to-die debate as her husband Michael battled with her parents to have her feeding tube removed. The courts agreed with his request, and Schiavo died on March 31.

Documents released Friday show that Florida's Department of Children and Families completed nine reports of abuse accusations made from 2001 to 2004, including neglect of hygiene, denial of dental care, poisoning and physical harm. All of the accusations were targeted at Michael Schiavo.

No evidence of abuse or neglect were found in any of the reports, which Judge George W. Greer, of Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court -- who has presided over the Schiavo dispute -- has ordered released to the public before Monday.

According to the Times, the names of many of the accusers have been blacked out in the reports, although the name of Terri Schiavo's father, Robert Schindler, does appear in one.

FDA Tells Makers to Pull Ads for Levitra, Zyrtec

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials are demanding that a specific television ad for the anti-impotence drug Levitra and three direct-mail ads for the allergy medicine Zyrtec be pulled due to what the agency called unsubstantiated claims.

According to the Associated Press, the 15-second Levitra spot features a woman extolling the benefits of the drug on her and her partner's sex life. She calls Levitra "the best way to experience the difference," but the FDA called this an unprovable claim. The agency also said the drug's maker, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp., fails to cite FDA warnings and other important product information in the ad.

The three Zyrtec direct-mail ads compare two individuals: one obviously sick and congested, and another healthy. Captions in the ad imply that the healthy-looking person has taken Zyrtec, but the FDA said that "it is not aware of substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience demonstrating that Zyrtec is clinically superior" to other over-the-counter or prescription allergy drugs.

The agency is asking that both companies pull the ads and respond in writing to the FDA's request.

Matthew Scampoli is a spokesman for Schering Plough, which markets Levitra for Bayer. He told the AP that the 15-second spot is one in a three-commercial campaign, and that the other two will continue to run. However, he said, "We are going to comply with the FDA's request" to pull the third ad.

The FDA had harsher words for Pfizer, noting that this was the fourth such warning it had given the company regarding Zyrtec ads. It is requesting that Pfizer provide in its response details on how it will make "truthful, non-misleading and complete" corrections to its ads.

Two-Thirds of Flu Virus Specimens Destroyed

Two-thirds of deadly flu virus shipments mistakenly sent to labs throughout the world have been destroyed, officials at the U.N.'s World Health Organization said Friday. The agency said it is still tracking down two shipments bound for Lebanon and Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

The agency estimates that thousands of labs in 18 countries received samples of the 50-year-old H2N2 virus as part of a flu test kit, and a global effort has been underway to identify and destroy those samples. As of Friday, WHO influenza chief Klaus Stohr said 10 countries have confirmed that they have destroyed their specimens. However, labs in Lebanon and Mexico "never received the specimen even though they were on the distribution list," Stohr said.

It's possible those samples were never shipped, Stohr added, and the WHO is launching an investigation into these missing kits.

According to the WHO official, Hong Kong, Belgium, Singapore, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan have now confirmed that their labs have destroyed their samples of the virus.

Five other countries -- Saudia Arabia, Bermuda, Brazil, Israel and Japan -- received the kits as well. Sohr told the AP Saudi Arabia has tracked down and destroyed samples in four out of five labs, while the four other countries have not yet confirmed they have destroyed their pathogens, although they have received instructions to do so.

It is still unclear whether all the shipments to U.S. labs, which received the bulk of the specimen kits, have been destroyed.

Speaking with the Cincinnati Post, Dr. Jared N. Schwartz, secretary-general of the American College of Pathologists, said his organization shipped 3,747 of the test kits, including a total of 9,181 specimens of the H2N2 virus, between September and early April. By Thursday afternoon, the ACP had received confirmation that 2,227 of the kits in labs worldwide have already been destroyed.

How kits including the deadly virus managed to get shipped at all remains a mystery, Schwartz told the Post. He speculated that a labeling error at Meridian Bioscience, a Newtown, Ohio company charged with preparing the test kits, might be to blame. But Schwartz said that idea is purely conjecture since Meridian officials have remained silent on their role, if any, in the H2N2 debacle. "There is not good communication at this point," Schwartz said.

Another group, the American Association of Bioanalysts, in St. Louis, Mo., also sent out a total of 343 H2N2-tainted kits, according to AAB administrator Mark Birenbaum. He told the Post that, as of Thursday morning, 303 of these kits had been destroyed.

U.S. Bill Would Ensure Prescriptions Are Filled

Both houses of Congress have crafted legislation designed to ensure that all legal drug prescriptions are filled, even if a pharmacist cites moral beliefs that equate certain forms of birth control with abortion.

The legislation, dubbed the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act (ALPhA), would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription only if it could be filled by a co-worker at the same pharmacy, CNN reported.

"Nobody has a right to come between any person and their doctor," the network quoted the legislation's Senate co-sponsor, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), as saying. "Today they might not fill prescriptions for birth control pills. Tomorrow it could be painkillers for a cancer patient," he added.

The American Pharmacists Association favors the idea of letting pharmacists follow their conscience, but only if customers have another way to get a prescription filled, CNN said.

The network, citing statistics from the reproductive-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, said at least 10 states are considering legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. A federal law would pre-empt any state law.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Health Headlines - April 16

Breast Cancer Study Boosts Avastin

Biotech company Genentech Inc. and Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG said Friday that an interim analysis of clinical trial data showed that cancer treatment Avastin met its primary endpoint of increasing survival rates in breast cancer patients.

WHO: Virus Sent to Mexico, Lebanon Missing

Shipments of a killer influenza virus destined for testing in Mexico and Lebanon remain unaccounted for, but the U.N. health organization said 15 other countries that received the samples were expected to have destroyed them by Saturday.

Once Half-Ton Man Now Weighs 530 Pounds

Patrick Deuel used to be called the half-ton man. But on Friday, three months after leaving the hospital, Deuel weighed in at 530 pounds — a quarter-of-a-ton.

Health Tip: Curb Your Child's Weight

New research shows that children between 8 and 15 years old who are in the upper half of their normal weight range are more likely than their leaner peers to become obese or overweight as young adults.

Health Tip: If You Grind Your Teeth

As many as 40 million Americans suffer from bruxism, better known as teeth grinding. Five percent to 10 percent of them grind their teeth so severely that they fracture dental fillings or cause other types of tooth damage.

Botox May Quiet Chronic Daily Headache

Botox injections may be an effective treatment for sufferers of chronic daily headache, according to a new study.

Two-Drug Combo May Best Replace Bextra, Vioxx

In the post-Bextra, post-Vioxx age, how can arthritis patients get effective pain relief while protecting their hearts and stomachs from dangerous side effects?

College Students Underestimate Their Drinking

At parties and in alcohol-related research studies, U.S. college students often underestimate the amount of alcohol they drink, researchers report.

Weight-Loss Drug Shows Further Promise in European Trial

A major European trial of a drug that helps people lose weight, slim their waistline and reduce risk factors for heart disease has achieved the same promising results as a similar North American trial, researchers report.

Have a Drink -- and a Smoke, Too

For many, liquor and cigarettes go literally hand-in-hand. Now scientists believe they have figured out why.

'Slow' Physical Therapy Fights Tough Back Pain

Moving beyond fine wine and creamy cheese, France may have given the world a whole new way to make life better: a specific form of physical therapy that promises relief for millions of people now suffering the crippling effects of severe back pain.

Researchers Focus On Deep-Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's

A treatment called deep brain stimulation has proven effective in controlling Parkinson's disease symptoms, but doctors have long debated which areas of the brain should be stimulated to produce the best results.

Tissue Scan May Improve Prostate Cancer Treatment

An imaging technology called magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy may be better than standard lab biopsy tests in determining the prognosis for prostate cancer patients, a new study suggests.

Food Fact:
A touch of cinnamon.

For diabetes control, a dash of cinnamon may have a surprisingly sweet payoff.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Knock down cholesterol.

It's not just about diet -- physical activity makes a huge difference, too.

FAQ of the day:
Is tofu a good source of calcium?

Many kinds of tofu are excellent sources of calcium, but not all. If tofu is processed with calcium sulfate -- as most are -- it will have about 260 mg of calcium per cup. This calcium is as absorbable by the body as the calcium in milk. But tofu processed with nigiri will have little calcium. Similarly, calcium-fortified soy milk contains 300 mg of calcium, the same as a cup of milk, but not all soy milks are fortified. Read the label to be sure.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Health Headlines - April 15

Study: About 18 Million Chinese Are Obese

Fast-growing China is facing an obesity epidemic with about 18 million people obese and 137 million overweight, researchers said on Friday.

Report Calls for U.S. National Cord Blood Board

Banks that store stem cells from umbilical cord blood are saving lives but need a national board to organize and regulate them, a panel of U.S. experts said on Thursday.

Health Tip: Diabetes and Hip Fractures

People with diabetes have about twice the risk of hip fractures as the general population, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Ibuprofen May Protect Against Parkinson's

Ibuprofen, one of the most popular over-the-counter pain relievers, may help prevent or delay the onset of Parkinson's disease, new research suggests.

Tamoxifen Eases Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

In prostate cancer patients, the drug tamoxifen is more effective than low-dose radiotherapy at preventing breast pain and enlargement in patients taking the cancer drug bicalutamide, according to a new study.

U.S. Executions by Lethal Injection May Not Be Humane

Prisoner executions by lethal injection in the United States may not be painless or humane, and may not even meet veterinary standards for putting down animals.

Ovary Removal Doubles Parkinson's Risk

The removal of both ovaries in young women may double their risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, a new study finds.

U.S. Seeks Cause of Flu Virus Mix-up

U.S. health officials were still trying to determine Thursday how a lethal flu virus had been mistakenly shipped to thousands of laboratories around the world.

Ephedra Ban Lifted by U.S. District Judge

Saying that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not met the burden of proof that any specific dosage of the controversial weight-loss drug ephedra was dangerous, a U.S. District Court judge in Salt Lake City has lifted the year-old FDA ban and sent the matter back to the agency for further evaluation.

Experts Offering Free Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screening

Experts are offering free screenings for oral, head and neck cancers at sites nationwide on April 15.

New Device Coaches Patients at Home

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new device that allows doctors to monitor patients with chronic conditions who self-administer therapies at home.

Science Takes A Swing at "Yips"

"Yips," an annoying but common muscle condition familiar to many golfers, may be a task-specific movement disorder -- much like a musician's or writer' cramp, according to a study presented April 14 at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.

Food Fact:
Broccoli vs. cancer.

The veggie's green pigment makes it a potent disease-fighter.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Brain check.

Physical exercise may mean as much for your mind as it does for your body.

FAQ of the day:
Will carbs make me fat?

It certainly hasn't worked that way for traditional Asian societies, where carbohydrates can make up as much as 80% of the diet and obesity is rare. Excess calories from any source will lead to weight gain. As for carbohydrates, the key for weight control is to limit consumption of refined grains and sugars, which pack a lot of calories in a portion, and emphasize whole grains rich in fiber, and whole fruits and vegetables, which are very low in calories.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Health Headlines - April 14

Nutrition 21 FDA Decision Delayed

Nutrition 21 Inc. said Wednesday that it agreed to the Food and Drug Administration's request for a 60-day extension to review qualified health claims for chromium picolinate, pushing the agency's decision date to June 17.

Smoking doubles eye disorder risk in old age

People who smoke have double the risk of suffering from a degenerative eye disorder that is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, researchers said on Thursday.

Health Tip: Colon Polyps

For every year a person smokes, he or she has a 4 percent increased risk of developing colon polyps -- precancerous growths in the colon, the American College of Gastroenterology says.

Protein Helps Control Cancer's Spread

A little-known protein called Fra-1 appears to control the malignancy of brain cancer cells and could be a new target for drugs that fight a wide range of tumors, researchers say.

Deadly Flu Virus Mistakenly Sent to Thousands of Labs

An influenza virus that caused the deaths of more than 1 million people in 1957 was mistakenly sent to thousands of laboratories around the world during the past six months, health officials confirmed Wednesday.

New Clues to Killer Heart Failure

The most common cause of heart failure is often caused by health problems outside the heart, a new report suggests.

Two Agents Fail to Fight Off Alzheimer's

Two compounds that experts had hoped might slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease apparently have little or no effect.

Electricity Delivers Gene to Fight Melanoma

Promising new gene therapy against skin cancer, in which researchers use electricity to open skin pores and deliver an immune-bosting gene, is now being readied for clinical trials.

Shaking Disorder Linked to Higher Dementia Risk

People with a movement disorder called essential tremor, involving a shaking of the hands, head, voice or body, are more than twice as likely to develop dementia in old age as people who don't have the disorder, a Spanish study suggests.

Problem Gamblers Show Brain Impairment

America's estimated 7 million problem gamblers may have more in common with alcoholics or drug addicts than they think.

Spirituality May Slow Alzheimer's

A rewarding spiritual life may help slow the devastation of Alzheimer's disease.

Too Much Water Gets Runners in Trouble

Marathon runners who gulp down too much water during a tough race are doing their bodies no favors, researchers report.

Food Fact:
Balanced diet?

Eat more blueberries, and you may be less prone to falls.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Make a cardio-commute.

You're going to work anyway -- be creative, and you can squeeze in a little effortless exercise on the way.

FAQ of the day:
Is a "plant-based" diet the same as "vegetarian"?

Nutritionists use the term "plant-based" for a diet that gets most of its calories from plant foods, but may include some animal foods. In some parts of the world, what nutritionists have called plant-based diets will include red meat like beef or pork, but eaten rarely, or in very small amounts. Vegan diets, which include no foods of animal origin, are plant-based by definition. So are lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, which include dairy foods and eggs, as well as diets that include fish, shellfish and poultry. Population studies have demonstrated a significant link between plant-based foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, soy) and a reduced risk of developing cancer and coronary heart disease.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Health Headlines - April 13

U.S. Panel Rejects Inamed Silicone Breast Implants

Inamed Corp. narrowly failed to convince a U.S. panel on Tuesday that its silicone breast implants are safe enough to win U.S. approval and end 13-year-old restrictions sparked by concerns over possible illness from leaking silicone.

Marburg Outbreak Not Likely a Global Threat

An outbreak of deadly Marburg virus in Angola is probably not a global threat but international experts are working to bring it under control, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Technique May Safely Preserve Fertility in Breast Cancer Patients

Combining a cancer drug with a fertility hormone used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) may preserve the fertility of breast cancer patients before they undergo chemotherapy without promoting the growth of breast cancer, a new study finds.

'Lazy Eye' Therapy Can Help Older Children

Children over 7 years of age -- including teens -- with amblyopia, or "lazy eye," may benefit from treatments traditionally restricted to much younger patients, according to a new study.

Liver Protein Points to Anti-Obesity Drugs

A liver protein already well known for its role in regulating cholesterol may also help the body pack on unwanted fat, new research suggests.

Prescription Drug Prices Soaring Above Inflation

The cost of most popular, brand-name drugs used by older Americans has risen by 7.1 percent in the past year -- a new record, according to an AARP report released Tuesday.

FDA Panel Rejects Return of Silicone Breast Implants

Silicone gel breast implants still haven't been proven safe, so the devices should not be allowed back on the American market, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel decided Tuesday.

Polio Vaccine: It Tamed a Scourge, Transformed Medicine

It was the beginning of the end for polio, and the start of a new era in medicine.

Statins Seem to Help Stroke Patients

Giving cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins to people after they've had a stroke may reduce the brain damage they suffer and decrease their risk of dying.

Tracking Kidney Patients' Cardiac Risks

New blood tests designed to assess a kidney patient's cardiac death risk still aren't as effective as traditional risk factors -- such hypertension or smoking -- in evaluating an older patient's survival odds, a new study finds.

Experimental Dual Childhood Vaccine Disappoints

An experimental combination childhood vaccine created to protect against both pneumonia and meningitis provided less protection than separate vaccines for the diseases, a new British study finds.

Food Fact:
Go bananas.

Smart bakers have a bunch of tricks for cutting fat using this versatile fruit.

Fitness Tip of the day:
The 100-yard sale.

The gym isn't the only place to burn calories; you can find lots of ways to get in shape at the mall, if you know where to look.

FAQ of the day:
Is grilling safe?

Grilling, broiling and barbecuing creates compounds in meat that may increase risk of cancers of the stomach, colon and rectum. Some stem from burning fat, while others are inside highly heated meat. Char-broiled foods are the worst offenders. You can substantially reduce the levels of these potential carcinogens by marinating the meat beforehand, and then cooking it on a cooler part of the grill. If any meat gets charred, scrape it off before serving. This advice also applies to chicken and fish.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Health Headlines - April 12

Study: Cloned Meat, Milk Nearly the Same

Meat and milk from cloned animals is essentially identical to that from animals that reproduced normally, a new study says.

History of Polio Traced in D.C. Exhibit

Devastating outbreaks of "infantile paralysis," the disease that crippled 39-year-old Franklin Roosevelt, panicked many American parents of the mid-1900s until Jonas Salk announced a successful vaccine in 1955. Most victims were small children.

Health Tip: Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Have you been told that you snore loudly? Do you wake up feeling tired after a full night's sleep? If so, you may have sleep apnea. This potentially serious sleep disorder occurs when breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Health Tip: Nail Salon Safety

Whether you live in a big city or small town, you'll probably find no shortage of nail salons. But before you treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure, find out if health and sanitation guidelines are being met.

Computer Keyboards Spread More Than Words

Harmful bacteria can linger on computer keyboards in hospitals, making it easy for the germs to spread to patients, a new study finds.

Injuries Rising as More Kids Take Up Golf

The increasing popularity of children's golf has teed off an upswing in golf-related head injuries among youngsters, a new study finds.

Light Therapy Brightens Seasonal Blues

People affected by seasonal mood disorders can literally lighten up: A new review of 20 studies on the subject finds daily light-box therapy is an effective treatment for these conditions.

Few Women Say They'd Use Tamoxifen Preventively

Even though the drug tamoxifen has proven effective in preventing breast cancer, a new survey finds fewer than one in five women at high risk for the disease say they would take the medication.

Sleeping Pills Won't Increase Elderly Fall Risk

It's insomnia itself, not sleeping pills, that increases the risk for falls and injuries among sleep-deprived elderly people, a new study suggests.

FDA Reconsidering Silicone Breast Implants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration opened a three-day hearing Monday on whether to allow silicone breast implants back on the market for women who want aesthetic breast-enhancement surgery.

Exercise Isn't Always Enough to Lower Blood Pressure

Moderate exercise is not enough to control mildly elevated blood pressure in men and women over 55, Johns Hopkins University researchers report.

Study: Cell Phones Won't Raise Brain Tumor Risk

Cell phone use does not increase risks for brain tumors, a new Danish study suggests.

A Molecular Explanation of Why Muscles Weaken With Age

Researchers can now tell you why your legs get creakier and wearier as you get older -- it's the inevitable deterioration of the genetic material in the energy-producing centers of your muscle cells.

Food Fact:
Guac shock.

Think avocados are too lush and buttery to be good for you? Think again.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Meltdown meditation.

Everything's coming at you at once. Don't explode -- try a little yoga trick that can calm you down in an instant.

FAQ of the day:
What exactly is considered "red" meat?

Contrary to what some advertisements may dub "the other white meat," scientists define red meat as the meat from land mammals such as cattle, pigs and lamb. That means beef, lamb and, yes, pork.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Polio vaccine, 50 years later

Fifty years ago Tuesday, on April 12, 1955, scientists announced that the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk could prevent the disease that paralyzed children and struck fear in parents' hearts every summer.

At a news conference at the University of Michigan, Thomas Francis Jr., who had led a year-long study of the vaccine, declared: "The vaccine works. It is safe, effective and potent."

People celebrated. Church bells rang. In 1952, there had been more than 57,000 cases in the USA, but within two years of Francis' announcement, the incidence of polio dropped as much as to 90%. The last naturally acquired case in the USA was in 1979.

Since then, international vaccination efforts have drastically reduced polio all over the world. Last year, says the World Health Organization, there were 1,263 cases, down from 350,000 in 1988. Scientists say they're on track to be able to declare the disease eradicated by the end of 2008.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, led by WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Children's Fund and Rotary International. Rotary's PolioPlus program, which began in 1985, has contributed more than $500 million to polio eradication worldwide.

Among celebrations marking the anniversary:

• The first Thomas Francis Jr. Medal in Global Public Health will be awarded to former CDC director William Foege, a senior adviser to the Gates Foundation, at the University of Michigan.

• The National Museum of American History opens a Whatever Happened to Polio? exhibit and a Web site,

• A symposium on the vaccine and the eradication effort is being held at the University of Pittsburgh, where Salk created the vaccine.

Health Headlines - April 11

Spitzer Says Probe Centers on Drug Tampering Fears

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Sunday that an investigation of the drug wholesaling business centers on possible drug tampering and mislabeling.

Cambodian Girl Dies from Bird Flu, Asia Toll Now 51

An eight-year-old Cambodian girl has died of bird flu, the 51st known victim of the deadly virus since it swept across Asia at the end of 2003.

Women Inside NIH Describe Sex Harassment

Women at the National Institutes of Health faced sexual intimidation and repeated disregard of their concerns for the welfare of patients in AIDS experiments, according to testimony by two senior female officers and documents gathered by investigators.

Obese Shoppers Say Clerks Not Helpful

Even though she's been a model, an author and small-business owner, Catherine Schuller said some sales clerks still only see her as an overweight woman who is out of place in their stores.

States Grapple With Growing Teen Meth Use

They sit at a cafeteria table, gossiping and snacking during a school field trip. "Have you seen him? Has he gained the weight back?" one girl asks. "Yeah, he looked so good," replies another from across the table.

WHO Resumes Combatting Virus in Angola

Health workers who left western Angola after they were attacked by residents fearful of a deadly Ebola-like virus have resumed efforts to contain the disease, the World Health Organization said Sunday.

Knowing When Prescription Drugs Are Safe

Safety tips to help consumers know their prescription drugs are safe and effective are contained in a new guide released by the Partnership for Safe Medicine.

New Breast Cancer Drugs Offer Alternative to Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen's long reign as the queen of breast-cancer treatments is being challenged by three heiress presumptives -- drugs known as aromatase inhibitors.

Health teams race to track new Marburg cases in Angola

Epidemiologists in the northern Angolan town of Uige are working overtime to trace new cases of the deadly Marburg virus, which has claimed nearly 200 lives and sparked panic in the war-devastated southern African nation.

Iran parliament mulls easing abortion law

Iran's conservative-dominated parliament started examining a draft bill that would allow abortion in the first four months of pregnancy if the woman's life is in danger or the fetus is deformed.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Health Headlines - April 10

Attacks Briefly Halt WHO Campaign in Angola

World Health Organization (WHO) teams fighting an outbreak of Marburg virus in Angola were forced to temporarily suspend work in one area after scared residents stoned their vehicles, officials said on Saturday.

High Carb Diets May Raise Breast Cancer Risk

Diets that have a high "glycemic index" -- that is, they produce high blood sugar levels -- may increase the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women who've used hormone replacement therapy (HRT), study results suggest.

Diabetes Ups Urinary Infection Risk in Older Women

Rates of urinary tract infection (UTI) are higher among postmenopausal women with diabetes than among those without diabetes, researchers report.

Peanut Allergy Linked to Lupin Flour Allergy

People with peanut allergy may also be allergic to lupin flour, which is increasingly being added to human food products, British investigators report in The Lancet medical journal.

Project Shows Indoor Asthma Triggers Can Be Curbed

The Seattle-King County Healthy Homes Project, designed to decrease exposure of children to asthma triggers in the home through in-home visits by healthcare workers, has proven successful.

'Good' Bacteria Help with Eczema in Infants

Mixing a type of beneficial or "probiotic" bacteria, Lactobacillus GG (LGG), into food helps reduce symptoms in allergic infants with the skin condition eczema, according to a report in the medical journal Allergy.

Active Teen Girls Run Risk of Stress Fracture

While physical activity strengthens bones, high-impact activity can markedly increase the risk of stress fracture among adolescent girls, recent findings suggest.

Poor Blood Pressure Control Ups Stroke Risk

About half of all first-time strokes in patients being treated for high blood pressure result from the pressure not being adequately controlled, Swedish researchers report.

N.Korea Seeks International Help to Fight Bird Flu

North Korea has asked the international community for help in combating a strain of the bird flu virus that has recently killed 50 people in Asia, the world animal health body OIE said Friday.

Depression Therapy May Help HIV Treatment

Antidepressants may do more than improve the mental health of people with both HIV and depression. New study findings suggest the treatment may also bolster patients' compliance with their HIV medications.

Scientists to Study Berries, Oral Cancer

University of Kentucky and Ohio State researchers are conducting a test to see if a common fruit is useful in slowing or preventing oral cancer. Scientists believe the black raspberry carries two acids that can inhibit tumor growth.

Scientists Create Remote-Controlled Flies

Yale University researchers say their study that used lasers to create remote-controlled fruit flies could lead to a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans.

Virginia's Flu Activity Decreasing

Flu season isn't over yet in Virginia but it's waning, state health officials said. Virginia's influenza activity has dropped from "widespread" status, which started in February, according to statistics compiled for the week that ended April 2.

U.N.: Angola Virus Epidemic Not Controlled

Medical experts are having some success countering an outbreak of a deadly Ebola-like virus in Angola, but it has yet to be brought fully under control, the U.N. health agency said Friday.

Woman Says ME Took Her Brother's Brain

A North Carolina woman filed a $500,000 claim against King County on Friday, alleging that its medical examiner's office harvested her dead brother's brain for research without permission seven years ago.

Puerto Ricans Top Survey on Satisfaction

Puerto Ricans have ranked highest in the world in one survey of how satisfied people are with their lives, but the result is drawing head-shaking on the Caribbean island, where some say islanders have plenty of personal problems and psychologists...

EPA Cancels Controversial Pesticide Study

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday canceled a controversial study using children to measure the effect of pesticides after Democrats said they would block Senate confirmation of the agency's new head.

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Persist in Chicken

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria continued to be found in chickens bought at area supermarkets a year after two large poultry producers stopped using an antibiotic blamed for creating the resistant strains, Johns Hopkins researchers report.

Pfizer Halts Bextra Sales at FDA Request

The blockbuster painkiller Bextra was yanked off the market Thursday, and the government ordered that 19 other popular prescription competitors — from Celebrex to Mobic to high-dose naproxen — carry tough new warnings that they, too, may...

Food Banks in Appalachia Try Diet Fare

A surplus of diet food for the overweight has been a boon for the hungry in Appalachia. Once hot and trendy, low-carb Atkins diet foods that never got sold are being shipped to food banks.

Black Women Need to Guard Against Colon Cancer

Black women should consult with their doctors about new colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the American College of Gastroenterology.

Fear stalks Angolan town worst hit by killer Marburg virus

Fear stalked the streets in this squalid northern Angolan town devastated by years of civil war, now the epicentre of an outbreak of the killer Marburg virus which has claimed 180 lives so far.

Japan urges blood donations after mad cow scare

Japanese youths were urged to donate blood as the mad cow scare threatened to cause serious shortages.

Agencies promise to aid NKorea on bird flu outbreak

The world's paramount agencies for food and animal health praised North Korea for its "transparency" in disclosing an outbreak of bird flu and pledged to help its appeal to fight the disease.

Pharma major pledges new treatment in fight against malaria

The pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis has pledged to launch a new combination therapy against malaria that would be patent-free and may cost less than a dollar per person, under a deal announced.

Japan finds 17th case of madcow disease amid US pressure to buy beef

Japan said it has confirmed its 17th case of mad cow disease in an animal, amid pressure from the United States to resume imports of its beef suspended over health fears.

Religion coming between US pharmacists, women seeking birth-control pills

Some US pharmacists with strong religious beliefs are refusing to fill prescriptions for female clients requesting birth-control pills, causing alarm among women's rights organizations.

Abortion trial in Portugal suspended

The trial of three women accused of violating the staunchly Roman Catholic nation's strict rules against abortion was suspended again after a defense lawyer complained the judge was biased.

Canadian obesity a growing problem: health ministry

One-third of Canadians in a 1995-2003 study became overweight, said Canada's health ministry.

Mediterranean diet boosts longevity among elderly: study

A large-scale study published adds statistical evidence to the perceived benefits of the Mediterranean diet, a regimen rich in fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables and cereals and supplemented by a modest intake of red wine.