Health Highlights: Aug. 17, 201008/17/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of
Possible Link Between Athletes' Head Injuries and Lou Gehrig's
There appears to be a connection between head injuries in
athletes and Lou Gehrig's disease, according to a new study.
Boston University neurology professor Dr. Ann McKee found toxic
proteins in the spinal cords of three athletes who suffered head
injuries during their careers and later died of Lou Gehrig's
disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the
Associated Press reported.
The same toxic proteins have been found in the brains of
athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This
condition is associated with head injuries and patients experience
abnormal behavior, cognitive decline and dementia.
McKee launched her study after noticing that ALS appears to
affect an unusually high number of football players. People with
ALS lose the ability to move and speak as the disease attacks nerve
cells in the brain and spinal cord.
She analyzed the brains and spinal cords of former Minnesota
Vikings linebacker Wally Hilgenberg, former Southern California
linebacker Eric Scoggins, and an unnamed boxer, the
AP reported. All of them died of ALS.
The spines of all three athletes contained the toxic proteins.
But these proteins were not present in the spines of athletes who
had CTE but not ALS, nor in non-athletes who died of ALS.
The study appears in the
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.
Lily Halts Development of Alzheimer's Drug
The development of an experimental Alzheimer's drug called
semagacestat has been halted because it actually worsened the
condition of patients in two late-stage studies, Eli Lilly and
Company said Tuesday.
The company said the drug did not slow the progression of
Alzheimer's and was associated with a decline in patients'
cognition and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks,
The New York Times reported.
In addition, patients taking the drug were at increased risk for
skin cancer, the newspaper said.
Semagacestat was designed to reduce the production of brain
plaques believed to be involved in Alzheimer's disease.
This failure and previous ones involving other experimental
Alzheimer's drugs could raise doubts about the leading theory that
Alzheimer's is caused by the accumulation of amyloid beta plaques
in the brain, the
Development of another experimental Alzheimer's drug called
solanezumab will continue, Lilly said. That drug, which is in
late-stage testing, also targets amyloid beta but does so through a
different mechanism than semagacestat.
Cancer a Major Economic Issue: Report
Cancer not only is the leading cause of death worldwide but it
has a huge economic impact, according to an American Cancer Society
The amount of life and productivity lost due to cancer is
greater than AIDS, malaria, the flu and other infectious diseases,
Associated Press reported.
In 2008, cancer's economic toll was $895 billion - which is
equal to 1.5 percent of the global gross domestic product. That
figure represents the cost of disability and years of life cost,
but doesn't include treatment costs, the American Cancer Society
The document was to be presented this week at a global cancer
conference in China, the
Being Youngest in Class May Lead to ADHD Misdiagnosis
A new study suggests that nearly one million American children
may have been misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) simply because they were the youngest ones in their
school class, not because they have behavioral problems.
The Michigan State University study found that children who are
the youngest in their school grades are 60 percent more likely to
be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children,
USA Today reported.
Another study by researchers at North Carolina State University
and elsewhere yielded similar findings. Both studies are scheduled
for publication in the
Journal of Health Economics.
Misdiagnosis of ADHD can have long-term effects, said Todd
Elder, an assistant professor of economics and author of the
Michigan study. It also found that the youngest children in the
fifth and eighth grade were more than twice as likely as older
classmates to use Ritalin, a stimulant drug commonly prescribed for
USA Today reported.
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