Health Highlights: Feb. 7, 201202/07/12
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Komen Official Resigns After Controversy
An official at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer
charity has resigned after the controversy over the group's funding
of Planned Parenthood.
The charity announced last week that it would stop providing
Planned Parenthood with grants for breast-cancer screenings, but
reversed the decision after a storm of protest.
Karen Handel, the charity's vice president for public policy,
resigned Tuesday. In a letter obtained by the
Associated Press, Handel said she supported the decision to halt funding for Planned Parenthood.
Discussion about the issue began before she arrived at the
organization and was approved at the highest levels of the charity,
according to Handel.
"I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it," Handel said in her letter, the AP reported. "I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and
continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen's
future and the women we serve."
University Vending Machine Dispenses Emergency Contraceptive
In response to student demand, the Plan B emergency
contraceptive will be available in a vending machine inside
Shippensburg University's Etter Health Center.
The vending machine will also dispense condoms, pregnancy tests
and decongestants, the
Associated Press reported.
The decision to install the machine was made after a Student
Association request and a survey showing 85 percent of student
respondents supported it, said Roger Serr, vice president for
In the U.S., Plan B is available without a prescription to
anyone 17 or older, the
Shippensburg University is about 125 miles west of
U.S. Funding for Alzheimer's Research Increased
The U.S. National Institutes of Health will spend an extra $50
million on Alzheimer's research this year under a plan announced
Tuesday, and the Obama administration plans to ask Congress for $80
million in new Alzheimer's research money for next year.
Currently, the NIH spends $450 million a year on Alzheimer's
research in an effort to gain the upper hand in a fight against
what may be the defining disease of the aging baby-boom generation,
Associated Press reported.
The increased funding is part of the Obama administration's
development of the first National Alzheimer's Plan meant to develop
better treatments and help people who look after loved ones with
"We can't wait to act," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement, the AP reported. "Reducing the burden of Alzheimer's disease on
patients and their families is an urgent national priority."
Fructose Boosts Visceral Fat: Study
A new study finds that consumption of the sweetener fructose can
lead to higher amounts of visceral fat, which increases the risk of
cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat is the kind that accumulates
around internal organs.
The study of 559 teens, ages 14-18, found that higher fructose
consumption was associated with increased systolic (top number)
blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and
visceral fat, and reduced levels of "good" HDL cholesterol,
The New York Times reported.
These are all known risks for cardiovascular disease and type 2
Further investigation revealed that is was not fructose itself,
but its tendency to increase visceral fat that led to the rise in
these risk factors,
The Times reported.
"To just say 'fructose is bad' is incorrect," said lead author Norman K. Pollock, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Georgia Health Sciences University. "But when calorie intake from fructose is greater than 16 percent of total intake, we're seeing these risk factors appear."
The study was published in the February issue of
The Journal of Nutrition.
Diabetes Increases Risk of Birth Defects
Women with diabetes have a four-fold increased risk of having
babies with birth defects, a new study says.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 400,000 pregnancies in
the U.K. and found that the risk of birth defects was 72 per 1,000
births among women with diabetes, compared with 19 per 1,000 births
for women without pre-existing diabetes,
BBC News reported.
The study was published in the journal
Blood sugar levels in the time just before conception were the
"most important" risk factor that could be controlled, according to
the Newcastle University researchers,
BBC News reported.
Beam Radiation Most Toxic, Costly Prostate Treatment: Study
External beam radiation causes the most toxic side effects and
is the most expensive type of prostate cancer treatment, according
to a new study that compared the three most common treatments.
The Cleveland Clinic researchers found that external beam
radiation costs an average of $6,412 per patient per year, compared
with $3,205 for prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate
gland) and $2,557 for brachytherapy (placement of a radioactive
source near the tumor),
The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported.
Toxicity rates among patients were nearly 8.8 percent for
external beam treatment, 6.9 percent for prostatectomy and 3.7
percent for brachytherapy.
The findings, based on an analysis of data from more than
137,000 patients, were presented recently at the Genitourinary
Cancer Symposium in San Francisco,
The Plain Dealer reported.
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