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Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2013

Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2013

01/10/13

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

NFL Star Player Junior Seau Had Head Injury-Related Brain Disease

Former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau had a debilitating brain disease likely caused by the many hits to the head he suffered while playing football, according to scientists who analyzed his brain tissue after he committed suicide last year.

Seau was 43 when he shot himself in the chest in May 2012 at his home in Oceanside, Calif. His family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes for Health who are studying brain injuries in football players, ABC Newsreported.

The examination of Seau's brain showed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple blows to the head.

"What was found in Junior Seau's brain was cellular changes consistent with CTE," Dr. Russell Lonser, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State University, told ABC News.

Lonser, who led the study of Seau's brain while he was at the NIH, said that patients with CTE experience symptoms "such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, (and) sometimes suicidal ideation."

CTE can only be diagnosed after death.

Seau's ex-wife, Gina Seau, told ABC Newsthat Junior Seau had difficulty sleeping and became withdrawn and "detached emotionally" from his children.

In recent years, more than 30 former National Football League players have been found to have CTE. Last year, more than 4,000 retired players joined a class-action lawsuit against the NFL over its alleged failure to protect players from brain injuries. The league has said that it never intentionally hid the dangers of concussion from players and is now doing everything it can to protect them.

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Sisters' Breast Cancer Lawsuit Settled by Drug Company Eli Lilly

A lawsuit by four sisters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by a drug taken by their mother when she was pregnant has been settled by Eli Lilly and Co.

The Melnick sisters are among a total of 51 women who filed lawsuits against more than a dozen companies that made or marketed a synthetic estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES), the Associated Pressreported.

DES was prescribed to millions of pregnant women over three decades to prevent problems such as miscarriages and premature births. It was taken off the market in the early 1970s after being linked to rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers had taken the drug.

Studies later showed that DES did not prevent miscarriages.

The settlement in the Melnick sisters' case, which was the first of the lawsuits to go to trial, was announced Wednesday on the second day of testimony, the APreported.

The Melnick sisters all developed breast cancer in their 40s. Their lawyer told the jury that the sister's mother did not take DES while pregnant with a fifth daugther and that she has not developed breast cancer.

The four Melnick sisters have also suffered miscarriages, fertility problems and other reproductive troubles long believed to be caused by exposure to DES while in the womb, the APreported.

The settlement in this case could lead to settlements in other cases, according to Andrew Meyer, a Boston lawyer who's handled numerous medical malpractice cases.

"When one settles a case, they recognize they can lose it," he told the AP. "The reason they can lose it is because there's enough evidence for the plaintiffs to be able to win it."

There have been thousands of lawsuits alleging a connection between DES and vaginal cancer, cervical cancer and fertility problems. Many of those lawsuits were settled, the APreported.

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Chicken Jerky Dog Treats Recalled

Several popular brands of chicken jerky dog treats are being recalled because they may be contaminated with unapproved antibiotics.

Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats have been recalled by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats have been recalled by Milo's Kitchen, which is owned by Del Monte Corp. NBC Newsreported.

The voluntary recalls were announced after New York state agriculture officials said they detected trace amounts of residual poultry antibiotics in several lots of each of the brands of the jerky treat products.

Four of the antibiotics detected in the treats are not approved for use in poultry in the U.S., and one is approved for use in poultry in the U.S., but is limited to nearly undetectable levels in the finished product, an official told NBC News.

The antibiotics are approved in China, where most of the treats are made, and in other countries, according to statements released by the companies.

The detection of the antibiotics in the chicken jerky dog treats does "not raise health concerns" and the issue is "highly unlikely" to be related to reports of pet illnesses and deaths linked to jerky treats dating back to 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Device Sucks Food From Stomach, Helps People Lose Weight

A new device that sucks food out of the stomach can help obese people lose weight, according to the inventors of the appliance.

People wait 20 minutes after eating, then use the AspireAssist to empty 30 percent of their stomach contents into the toilet through a tube attached to a port implanted on the outside of the abdomen, ABC Newsreported.

Removing the food prevents absorption of calories, which leads to weight loss, according to the inventors. A one-year trial of 24 obese people found that they lost an average of 49 percent of their excess weight (about 45 pounds) when using the device.

AspireAssist has been available in some parts of Europe since 2011. It's currently undergoing trials in the United States but has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ABC Newsreported.

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Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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