Health

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).

Study Claims Smoking not linked to more advanced breast cancer
October 28, 2007 11:54 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a study that is sure to be questioned and criticized, one research group claims that women who develop breast cancer are no more likely to have aggressive or advanced tumors if they are cigarette smokers than if they do not smoke. The study's author, Dr MatthewAbramowitz said the study did not evaluate whether smokers were more likely than nonsmokers to have complications in treatment for breast cancer or die from the disease. However, the National Cancer Institute said cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus and bladder. The group emphasizes that tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.

Discovery may help treat drug addicts
October 28, 2007 11:43 PM - Reuters

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean scientists have made a discovery in the brains of rats that they say may help treat drug addiction and ease the side effects of some medications.

Researchers at the Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago say they identified a region of the brain, the insular cortex, that plays an important role in drug craving.

Tests on amphetamine-addicted laboratory rats showed that when the insular cortex was deactivated by injecting a drug that halted brain cell activity, the rats showed no signs of addiction.

Edwards unveils plan to control drug advertising
October 28, 2007 11:27 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Sunday unveiled a plan to put controls on drug advertising, which he said were misleading patients and driving up health care costs.

The former North Carolina senator, who has attacked lobbyists and championed the concerns of the poor in his campaign, proposes delays on consumer advertising of new drugs and tougher Food and Drug Administration oversight over drug marketing.

"The excessive costs of prescription drugs are straining family budgets and contributing to runaway health care costs," Edwards said at the start of a seven-day campaign tour of the early-voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

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