Health Highlights: Feb. 7, 201402/07/14
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Merck to Offer $100 Million Settlement in NuvaRing Lawsuits:
Merck will pay $100 million to settle thousands of lawsuits over
the company's NuvaRing birth control device, according to
The settlement will be announced Friday and provide an average
payout of more than $58,000 per case, two people familiar with the
Bloomberg News. They did not want to be identified because
they hadn't been authorized to talk publicly about the accord.
The deal will resolve several thousand cases in federal and
state courts in Missouri and New Jersey. Women accused Merck of
selling NuvaRing even though the company knew that the device put
them at higher risk for blood clots than products from other
companies. Blood clots can cause heart attack and stroke.
A Merck spokeswoman declined to comment on the settlement,
Stress of Birth May Cause Some Cases of Autism: Study
Some cases of autism may be caused by the stress infants
experience at birth, according to a new study.
Yehezkel Ben-Ari, of the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology
in France, and colleagues, said their findings from experiments
with rats and mice may lead to new ways to treat the condition
earlier in life,
The authors of the study in the journal
Scienceare currently testing a simple drug for treating
children with autism.
"This is exciting stuff to people in the field, because it's getting at a basic mechanism," Andrew Zimmerman of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who reviewed the study, told NBC News.
'Star Trek' Actor Leonard Nimoy has COPD
Leonard Nimoy says he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), a progressive lung condition that makes breathing
The 82-year-old actor who is best known for his role as Mr.
Spock on "Star Trek" revealed that he has COPD in series of tweets,
Wall Street Journalreported.
In one of the messages, Nimoy said: "I quit smoking 30 yrs ago.
Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP [live
long and prosper]."
In another tweet, the actor said he's "doing OK. Just can't walk
distances. Love my life, family, friends and followers,"
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States,
according to the National Institute of Health.
Concerns Raised About Surgical Method to Remove Uterine Fibroid
There is increasing concern about a surgical procedure widely
used to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to take out the
entire uterus, experts say.
The technique, called morcellation, is performed on tens of
thousands of women in the United States each year. During the
minimally invasive procedure, doctors cut tissue into pieces and
remove them through tiny incisions,
The New York Timesreported.
The operation can be performed with a knife or with an
electrical device with a high-speed blade. Two articles published
Thursday in the
Journal of the American Medical Associationoutline problems
linked with the procedure, mostly associated with the electrical
The articles explain that the technique can spray bits of benign
fibroid tumors around the inside of the abdomen, and these tissue
fragments can grow on organs and cause pain, infection or bowel
In some cases, morcellation has spread cells from an undetected
cancerous tumor through a patient's abdomen, resulting in advanced
cancer. Damage to blood vessels and abdominal organs have also been
caused by power morcellators.
Newer Norovirus Strain Caused Cruise Ship Outbreak: CDC
Stomach illness that swept through nearly 700 passengers and
crew members on a cruise ship was caused by a newer strain of
norovirus, U.S. health officials say.
The Sydney strain of norovirus was responsible for the outbreak
on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas during a recent Caribbean
cruise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
By the time the ship docked in New Jersey last week, 630
passengers and 54 crew members had been affected, making it one of
largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years,
The Sydney strain of norovirus, which appeared in recent years,
isn't especially dangerous. However, it has become a common cause
of symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting that can last for days,
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