Health

Team Of 100 Scientists Unlock Secrets Of Amazing Green Algae
October 16, 2007 03:02 PM - Stuart Wolpert

Los Angeles - Culminating a three-year research project, 115 scientists from around the world report in the Oct. 12 issue of the journal Science a "gold mine" of data on a tiny green alga called Chlamydomonas, with implications for human diseases.

The single-celled Chlamydomonas, a slimy organism that grows in soil and ponds, has approximately 15,000 genes, and scientists now know 95 percent of the sequence of its genome. Several years ago, they knew less than 2 percent.

Study: Big Tobacco's War On Linking Secondhand Smoke And Heart Disease
October 16, 2007 12:46 PM -

San Francisco, California - After combing through nearly 50 million pages of previously secret, internal tobacco-industry documents, UC Davis and UC San Francisco researchers say they have documented for the first time how the industry funded and used scientific studies to undermine evidence linking secondhand smoke to cardiovascular disease.

In a special report published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Circulation, authors Elisa K. Tong and Stanton A. Glantz say that the tobacco-related documents they reviewed show how the industry initially worked to question scientific evidence about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke as a way to fight smoke-free regulations. More recently, they suggest, tobacco-company-funded studies have been conducted to support the development of so-called "reduced-harm" cigarettes.

Obesity genetics
October 16, 2007 08:10 AM - Inderscience Publishers

New evidence that genetics plays a key role in obesity is published today in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications. The findings relate to the genetics of modern Pima Indians who have an unusually high rate of obesity but could be extrapolated to all people. Their obesity is thought to be linked to a thrifty metabolism that allowed them to metabolize food more efficiently in times when little was available but causes problems when food is in abundance.

Fruit compound fights head, neck cancer
October 16, 2007 08:03 AM - Tan Ee Lyn -Reuters

Lupeol, a compound in fruits like mangoes, grapes and strawberries, appears to be effective in killing and curbing the spread of cancer cells in the head and neck, a study in Hong Kong has found.

An experiment with mice showed lupeol worked most effectively with chemotherapy drugs and had almost no side effects, scientists at the University of Hong Kong said in a report published in the September issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Heart deaths, suicides up after weightloss surgery
October 15, 2007 11:15 PM -

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among people who have undergone so-called bariatric surgery for obesity, death rates are higher than seen among other people of the same age, new research shows. In particular, deaths due to suicide and coronary heart disease are higher than might be expected normally.

The study looked at data for all Pennsylvania residents who underwent a bariatric operation such as stomach stapling or gastric bypass between 1995 and 2004. Deaths in these patients were compared with those seen in the general population.

A total of 440 deaths were noted after 16,683 weightloss procedures during the study period, Dr. Lewis H. Kuller, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues report.

Wyeth Jury Awards $99 Million: HRT Drugs Blamed For Cancers
October 15, 2007 11:11 PM -

RENO, Nevada (Reuters) - A Nevada jury on Monday awarded $99 million in punitive damages to three women who blamed their breast cancer on Wyeth hormone replacement drugs.

Judge Robert Perry, presiding over the case in the Washoe County District Court, slashed the compensatory damages to $35 million from $134.5 million on Friday, after the jury said the original sum included some punitive damages.

The new total is about the same as the original figure.

Cancer death rates continue to fall
October 15, 2007 11:06 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Death rates from cancer continue to fall in the United States, dropping more than 2 percent per year from 2002 through 2004, cancer experts reported on Monday.

They found important declines in deaths from lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in men, as well as in breast and colon cancer among women. Lung cancer deaths were still on the rise among women but this increase slowed, according to the report.

"The significant decline in cancer death rates demonstrates important progress in the fight against cancer that has been achieved through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said in a statement.

Researchers Genetically Alter Plants Hoping They'll Vacuum Up Toxins
October 15, 2007 10:41 PM - Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists hope they've figured out a way to trick plants into doing the dirty work of environmental cleanup, U.S. and British researchers said on Monday.

"Our work is in the beginning stages, but it holds great promise," said Sharon Doty, an assistant professor of forest resources at the University of Washington, whose study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In work they describe as preliminary, researchers at the University of Washington say they've genetically altered poplar trees to pull toxins out of contaminated ground water, perhaps offering a cost-effective way of cleaning up environmental pollutants.

U.S. agencies stick to pregnancy fish-eating limits
October 15, 2007 10:29 PM - Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Monday it was holding firm to its recommendations that pregnant and breast-feeding women limit how much fish and other seafood they eat and avoid certain types with high levels of mercury.

The two agencies that have set government policy on the subject -- the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency -- have declined to alter their recommendations that these women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish weekly.

Their stance comes a week after a health advocacy coalition that received funding from the fish industry and 14 experts on October 4 urged these women to eat more fish.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies that are members of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition have actively distanced themselves from the coalition's new advice.

Air Pollution Linked To Bronchitis In Preschoolers
October 15, 2007 10:04 AM -

Davis, California - In one of the first studies to examine air pollution in relation to infant and early childhood health, a UC Davis researcher has discovered a strong link between exposure to components of air pollution and acute bronchitis diagnoses in preschool-aged children. Those components - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs - contribute to air pollution from a variety of sources, including coal burning, vehicle exhaust, wood-burning stoves, tobacco smoke and grilling food.

Led by UC Davis environmental epidemiologist Irva Hertz-Picciotto, the Czech Early Childhood Health Study involved 1,133 children from birth to 4.5 years of age born in two districts of the Czech Republic between 1994 and 1998. One of those districts, Teplice (pronounced Tuh-PLEET-zuh), is known for its high levels of air pollution. The other, Prachatice (pronounced prah-kuh-TEET-zuh), has much lower levels of air pollution.

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