Health Highlights: Nov. 9, 201111/09/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Drug Maker to Run New Clinical Trial on Cholesterol Med
A new clinical trial of the cholesterol medicine Trilipix will
be conducted by drug maker Abbott Laboratories after a U.S.
government-sponsored study found that the drug may not reduce heart
attack or stroke risk.
The Food and Drug Administration told the company to conduct the
new trial, which will compare high-risk patients taking Trilipix
and statin drugs to patients taking statins only,
Bloomberg News reported. Statins also target cholesterol.
In May, an FDA advisory panel recommended the new trial and also
said that Trilipix should remain on the market.
The FDA said patients should not stop taking Trilipix without
first talking to a doctor,
More U.S. Seniors Getting Pneumonia Vaccination
The number of elderly Americans who have ever been vaccinated
against pneumonia increased from 53 percent in 2000 to 60 percent
in 2008, a federal government report says.
But it also found that high-income seniors (65 percent) in 2008
were much more likely than those with low incomes (46 percent) to
have ever been vaccinated against pneumonia, which is a leading
cause of death among seniors in the United States.
Also in 2008, 64 percent of seniors who live in medium-size
cities had ever been vaccinated against pneumonia, compared with 52
percent of those in large inner city areas, where residents tend to
be low-income and minority, according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
There were also racial disparities. The proportion of seniors in
2008 who had ever been vaccinated against pneumonia was 65 percent
for whites, 46 percent for Asians, 45 percent for blacks and 37
percent for Hispanics.
New Skin Cancer Prevention Guidelines Focus on Counselling to
Doctors should appeal to young people's vanity in order to
convince them to reduce their sun exposure, the U.S. Preventive
Services Task Force says in draft recommendations released
For example, showing youth ages 10 to 24 how too much sun
exposure can affect their facial appearance now and later in life
can be much more effective than warning them about skin cancer.
"We now have a reasonable level of evidence that we are able to change behavior in teens and young adults with a variety of counseling approaches that were appearance-based," task force chair Virginia Moyer told the Wall Street Journal.
"When you tell a 14-year-old that he or she should avoid excessive sun so they won't get skin cancer when they are old, they don't worry because they don't think they are ever going to get old," noted Moyer, a professor of pediatrics and head of the Academic General Pediatrics Section at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. "But they are worried about their appearance now."
One intervention that's been shown to be effective involves
using a UV camera to show youth people how sun exposure is already
changing the skin on their face, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
Mississippi 'Personhood' Proposal Defeated
Mississippi voters have rejected a measure that would have
banned all abortions and many forms of birth control.
The so-called "personhood" amendment would have changed the
state's definition of life "to include every human being from the
moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent
The New York Times reported.
Evangelical Christians and other supporters said the amendment
would stop the murder of innocent life and its passage would have
increased support for similar laws in other states.
Opposition to the proposal was led by the American Civil
Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. They said the amendment
would have outlawed all abortions, including pregnancies that were
the result of rape or incest or those that put a mother's life in
Opponents also said the proposal would have barred morning-after
pills and certain types of birth control such as IUDs, and could
have put restrictions on in-vitro fertility procedures,
The Times reported.
"The message from Mississippi is clear," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. "An amendment that allows politicians to further interfere in our personal, private medical decisions, including a woman's right to choose safe, legal abortion, is unacceptable."
The Mississippi proposal sparked an intense national debate and
even divided the country's anti-abortion movement. It was opposed
by the National Right to Life and Roman Catholic bishops because
they were concerned it would be defeated in a U.S. Supreme Court
appeal and damage their efforts to chip away at abortion rights,
The Times reported.
Vatican Joins Venture to Boost Use of Adult Stem Cells
The Vatican and a small American biotech company have partnered
to host a conference this week to promote the use of adult stem
cells to treat disease, instead of using embryonic stem cells.
The conference, which will include patients, scientists, biotech
CEOs and cardinals, was organized by the Vatican's culture office
and New York-based NeoStem Inc., the
Associated Press reported.
The Vatican opposes embryonic stem cell research because embryos
are destroyed in the process.
The partnership with NeoStem is part of the Vatican's $1
million, five-year effort to promote adult stem cell research and
Safety of Electronic Health Records Requires Scrutiny: Panel
Patient safety is threatened by poorly designed, hard-to-use
computerized health records, a federal study warns.
The Institute of Medicine paper released Tuesday also said an
independent agency should be established to investigate injuries
and deaths associated with health information technology,
The New York Times reported.
The federal government is offering doctors and hospitals
billions of dollars in incentive payments in order to get them to
use electronic health records.
The study was requested by the Department of Health and Humans
Services after some public health experts and doctors warned that
the push for digital records might lead to a surge of
technology-induced medical errors,
The Times reported.
"There are real safety issues, but we believe that on average, health information technology improves patient safety," said study panel member Dr. Ashish K. Jha, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Genetic Test Improves Cancer Treatment
A genetic test for cancer cell mutations helps focus and improve
treatment for patients with lung cancer, according to a new
The test identifies mutations that enable cancer cells to divide
and multiple unchecked. These mutations can then be targeted with
drugs that block the enzyme that drives this cancer cell
Agence France-Presse reported.
Researchers analyzed tissue taken from 589 patients with
non-small cell lung cancer and identified one or more mutations in
just over half of the samples.
Of the 353 patients with advanced cancer, the researchers were
able to pinpoint one or more mutations in 170 patients. This led to
targeted therapy for 78 of the patients,
The research was published in the journal
Annals of Oncology.
The genetic test was so successful that it's now being used for
colorectal, breast and brain cancer patients, and is being
evaluated for use in leukemia patients,
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