Health Highlights: Dec. 21, 201112/21/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
HPV Vaccination Efforts Should Focus on Girls: Study
Girls should be the focus of vaccinations to protect against
human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study says.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical
cancer in females, anal and penile cancer in males, and
oropharyngeal cancers in both sexes. In the U.S., HPV vaccination
is recommended for adolescent girls and for boys ages 11 and
But researchers in the Netherlands say that concentrating
vaccination efforts on girls is the best way to reduce heterosexual
transmission of HPV, the
Los Angeles Times reported.
Females have the highest prevalence of HPV and immunizing them
would achieve the largest population-wide reduction of infection,
according to the researchers.
The study appears online in the journal
U.S. Population Growth Slowest Since Before Baby Boomers
Population growth in the United States is the slowest its been
since the 1940s, according to new Census estimates.
The population grew 0.7 percent to 311.6 million in the year
that ended July 1. That's even slower than the 0.9 percent rate
recorded at the height of the recent recession,
USA Today reported.
But even though the recession is officially over, it is still
having an effect on population growth.
"The pain is being felt, and it's actually expanding to more parts," William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told USA Today. "The latest Census numbers tell us more of the same."
ShoulderFlex Massager Poses Strangulation Risk: FDA
Reports of one death and one near death associated with the use
of a personal massage device called the ShoulderFlex Massager have
prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to warn consumers
not to use the product.
Hair, clothing or jewelry can become entangled in the device and
result in strangulation, the FDA said.
"The ShoulderFlex Massager poses serious risks. Consumers should stop using this device, health care providers should not recommend it to their patients and businesses should stop distributing and selling the device," Steve Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a news release.
The device was imported by King International and sold in retail
stores, catalogs and over the Internet. A recall was announced on
Aug. 31, 2011 but King International has since gone out of business
and many companies that sell the device and consumers don't know
about the recall, the FDA said.
HIV Vaccine Receives FDA Approval for Human Safety Tests
Canadian scientists who created an experimental HIV vaccine that
triggers a strong immune response in lab animals have received U.S.
Food and Drug Administration approval to begin clinical trials to
test the safety of the vaccine in humans.
The Phase I trial will begin in January and will include 40
volunteers who already have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If the
initial trial is successful, it will be followed by further
clinical trials to determine whether the SAV001 vaccine is
effective against HIV,
CTV News reported.
Previous attempts to create HIV vaccines have used certain genes
or proteins from the virus. But this new vaccine uses the whole HIV
virus, which has been genetically engineered to prevent it from
The researchers at the University of Western Ontario in London
said the vaccine is designed to prime the body's T-cells to destroy
any cells that might become infected with HIV,
CTV News reported.
French Officials Consider Recommending Breast Implant
Doctors' warnings about possible rupture and cancer risks
associated with a certain type of breast implant have pushed health
officials in France to consider whether to recommend that an
estimated 30,000 women in the country have their implants
Experts from the French Health Ministry were to meet Friday to
decide what to recommend for women with the pre-filled silicone gel
implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese, the
Associated Press reported.
More than 1,000 of the implants have ruptured and eight women
with the implants have developed cancer, according to French
officials. Sales of the implants were halted last year after it was
learned that the manufacturer misreported what type of silicone was
in the implants.
The decision by French officials could have an effect outside of
France because tens of thousands of women in Britain and other
countries also have the implants, the
U.S. Government Asks Scientists to Withhold Data on New 'Bird
U.S. officials on Tuesday asked scientists behind a new
laboratory-grown strain of "bird flu" to not disclose details of
its composition, due to security concerns.
According to the
Associated Press, the virus seems to spread more easily among mammals, and government officials worry that publication of its makeup might help terrorists create a biological weapon.
However, experts at the U.S. National Institutes of Health,
which funded the research, say publication in scientific journals
of the virus' blueprint is important because it suggests the H5N1
strain may mutate more easily than was previously believed.
"It's very important research," NIH science policy director Dr. Amy Patterson told the AP. "As this virus evolves in nature, we want to be able to rapidly detect . . . mutations that may indicate that the virus is getting closer to a form that could cross species lines more readily."
Avian flu strains have, in rare cases, been transmitted from
birds to humans. The fear is that a strain of H5N1 might mutate to
spread easily person-to-person, sparking a worldwide epidemic. The
newly engineered strain appears to do so between ferrets, which
have immune system responses to flu that are similar to those seen
in people, the
Based on that result, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board
for Biosecurity, which advises the U.S. government, looked over the
research as it was being submitted to the journals
Nature. The board's recommendation prompted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to request that the virus' full genetic blueprint not be published, the AP said.
According to Patterson, the government will allow scientists in
the field to be given access to unpublished detail on the genetic
makeup of the virus.
The editors-in-chief of
Nature have each voiced concerns over the move. "It is
essential for public health that the full details of any scientific
analysis of flu viruses be available to researchers,"
Nature editor-in-chief Dr. Philip Campbell said in a
statement, adding that the journal is mulling how "appropriate
access to the scientific methods and data could be enabled."
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