Health Highlights: July 21, 201107/21/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Evaluating Some Osteoporosis Drugs for Possible Cancer
Studies on oral bisphosphonate drugs used to treat osteoporosis
are being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which
is investigating whether there's a link between the bone-disease
medicines and an increased risk of esophageal cancer, the agency
The FDA, citing "conflicting findings" from past studies, said
it hasn't found proof of a link between the drugs and esophageal
cancer. But the agency said in a news release that it would
"continue to evaluate all available data supporting the safety and
effectiveness of bisphosphonate drugs and will update the public
when more information becomes available."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health says more than 40 million
women in the United States have osteoporosis "or are at high risk
due to low bone mass."
People taking a bisphosphonate who develop symptoms including
"swallowing difficulties, chest pain, new or worsening heartburn,
or have trouble or pain when swallowing" should contact a
physician, the FDA advised. Candidates for these drugs also should
speak with a doctor "about the benefits and risks of taking oral
bisphosphonates and how long they should expect to take them," the
Gay Men With HIV at Increased Risk of Hepatitis C
While it's considered rare to acquire the hepatitis C virus via
sexual intercourse, a new study finds that gay men infected with
HIV who have unprotected sex are at increased risk of transmitting
hepatitis C, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said Thursday, citing a new study.
In the agency's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC researchers working with scientists from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said they uncovered "substantial evidence" of hepatitis C transmission during unprotected gay sex. Hepatitis C primarily is transmitted through exposure to blood and by drug users who share needles.
The researchers said that between 2005 and 2010, they found 74
men infected with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- who had
documented new infection with hepatitis C. These men reported no
other risk factor for hepatitis C infection.
But when compared with other gay men who were HIV-positive but
hadn't contracted hepatitis C, the men with recent hepatitis C
infection were 23 times more likely than the other group to have
had unprotected anal sex, the study found.
"The good news," wrote the researchers, "is that the cure rate for new [hepatitis C] infection is very high with early treatment, but without regular testing of the men at risk, these largely asymptomatic infections may be missed."
Fewer Americans See Smoking as Risky: Survey
Fewer Americans perceived a serious risk from smoking a pack of
cigarettes a day in 2008-2009 than they did in 2007-2008, a
nationwide survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration released Thursday found.
The percentage of people who perceived a serious smoking risk
dropped from 73.7 percent to 72.3 percent among all survey
participants. Teens showed an even greater drop in perceived
smoking risk during the span, from 69.3 percent in 2007-2008 to
67.7 percent in 2008-2009, the survey found. No state posted in an
increase in the perceived risk of smoking, an agency news release
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health interviewed more than
137,000 people during 2008-2009. Among the report's additional
- No state reported an increase in illicit drug use between
2002-2003 and 2008-2009. Among people aged 12 to 17, illicit drug
use fell in 17 states during the period.
- The 10 states and the District of Columbia that had the highest
rates of illicit drug use during the prior month among people 12
and older also led the nation in marijuana use during the same
period. In alphabetical order, those locales were: Alaska,
Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
- Between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, 11 states showed declines in
cocaine use among people 12 and older.
- Rhode Island led the United States in terms of the number of
people age 18 and older with serious mental illness (7.2 percent),
while Hawaii and South Dakota shared the lowest rate (3.5
Heart Disease Tops Most Costly Conditions for Women
Heart disease leads the list of the costliest diseases and
medical conditions among women in the United States, with expenses
topping $43.6 billion, according to a report released Thursday by
the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Published in the agency's regular
News and Numbers report, the findings covered 2008, the most
recent year for which statistics were available.
Rounding out the list of the top 10 most-costly conditions among
- Mental disorders
- Trauma-related disorders
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asthma
- High blood pressure
- Back problems
- High cholesterol
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