Health

Want to Stop Superbugs? Clean up Hospitals: Study
October 31, 2007 01:20 AM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hospitals seeking to keep patients from picking up infections should focus as much on cleaning up invisible germs as on removing the visible dirt, a British doctor argued on Tuesday.

Clean hands can only go so far in protecting patients from infection if doorknobs, bed rails and even sheets are covered with bacteria and viruses, Dr. Stephanie Dancer of South General Hospital in Glasgow writes in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

But other infection experts differed on whether clean equipment and telephones affect a patient's biggest risk of acquiring a "superbug" such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Moderate earthquake hits Northern California
October 31, 2007 01:16 AM -

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck in a rural area about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, California, Silicon Valley's biggest city, on Tuesday night, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The earthquake was felt across the San Francisco Bay Area just before 8:05 p.m. (11:05 p.m. EDT). There were no immediate reports of major damage but the San Jose Mercury News Web site reported phone service failed in a part of Palo Alto, home to Hewlett-Packard computer company and Stanford University.

It said the quake caused minor damage and residents poured out of apartments in downtown San Jose to survey the damage.

Too many Halloween treats prompt health warnings
October 29, 2007 11:27 PM - Reuters

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - While adults may relish the gore of Halloween, most children enjoy the night for another reason -- the vast amount of candy they receive which is prompting warnings to parents.

With concern growing about rising childhood obesity rates, medical experts advised parents to limit how much candy they allow their children to eat.

"I don't think the indiscretion of a single day or a couple of days around Halloween would have any measurable impact on that child's health," said Dr Michael Kramer, a child health and development expert at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

UV light may offer "double whammy" for cancer
October 29, 2007 11:14 PM - Michael Kahn, reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Using ultraviolet light may one day offer a "double whammy" to kill cancer cells by better focusing antibody-based drugs and triggering the body's own defenses to eliminate tumors, researchers said on Tuesday.

In two studies with mice, a British team cloaked antibodies -- the immune system proteins that tag germs and cancer cells for elimination -- with an organic oil that blocked them from reacting until illuminated with ultraviolet light.

The researchers used engineered immune system proteins called monoclonal antibodies. They are made to home in on proteins known to be overactive in tumor cells.

Honduras finds radioactive material in container
October 29, 2007 11:11 PM -

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras authorities have found strong traces of radioactive material in a Hong Kong-bound shipping container carrying steel debris from an Atlantic coast port, officials said on Monday.

During a security scan on Sunday, officials detected high readings of radioactivity emanating from the container at the Puerto Cortes port, 115 miles north of Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We immediately declared an alert and have seized the container for inspection," Edwin Araque, the manager of Honduras' port authority, said on Monday.

AIDS virus invaded U.S. from Haiti: study
October 29, 2007 10:36 PM - Will Dunham, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The AIDS virus invaded the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic, scientists said on Monday.

Michael Worobey, a University of Arizona evolutionary biologist, said the 1969 U.S. entry date is earlier than some experts had believed.

The timeline laid out in the study led by Worobey indicates that HIV infections were occurring in the United States for roughly 12 years before AIDS was first recognized by scientists as a disease in 1981. Many people had died by that point.

U.S. consumer group flags more toys with lead
October 29, 2007 07:23 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dishes, toys, jewelry and backpacks that have not yet been recalled all carry "worrisome" levels of lead, the nonprofit Consumers Union said on Monday.

The group's Consumer Reports magazine staff recommended that people immediately stop using some of the products tested.

"Our lab tests detected lead at widely varying levels in samples of dishware, jewelry, glue stick caps, vinyl backpacks, children's ceramic tea sets and other toys and items not on any federal recall list," the group wrote in a magazine report.

Pollutants Implicated in Births of More Girls Than Boys
October 29, 2007 10:38 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

A recent study found that residents of Canadian communities who were exposed to emissions from polluting industries such as oil refineries, metal smelters, and pulp mills gave birth to more females than males, a reversal of the normal sex ratio. This is likely due to high levels of common air pollutants called dioxins and is not a surprising finding, according to James Argo, a medical geographer with the IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health, who conducted the study. “There is a very strong association [in the scientific literature] between chronic exposure to dioxins and an inverted sex ratio,” he said.

New study shows smoking increases risk of psoriasis
October 29, 2007 10:03 AM - Elsevier Health Sciences

Another disease can be added to the list of smoking-related disorders -- psoriasis. Researchers have found that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, heavier smoking increases the risk further, and the risk decreases only slowly after quitting. Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, all in Boston, USA, and Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada, have published the results in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

China birth defects soar due to pollution: report
October 29, 2007 07:44 AM - Reuters

Birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40 percent since 2001, a government report said, and officials linked the rise to China's worsening environmental degradation.

The rate of defects had risen from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001, to 145.5 in 2006, affecting nearly one in 10 families, China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said in a report on its Web site (www.chinapop.gov.cn).

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