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Dental rinse could lead to painless gum checkups

Dental HealthJan 26 06

A new analytical technique could allow dentists to detect gum disease just by having patients rinse their mouth with salt or baking soda, Canadian researchers said on Wednesday.

The analysis is done by measuring the level of white blood cells in a person’s mouth, according to an upcoming study in the Journal of Periodontal Research. The study found that people with gum problems show a higher count of white blood cells, which are produced by the body to fight disease.

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St. Jude Conducts First Large-Scale Bird Flu Genome Study

FluJan 26 06

Investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have completed the first large-scale study of bird flu virus genomes, thereby doubling the amount of genetic information available on the genes and proteins of these viruses. The results of the project could lead to major insights into the bird flu virus known as H5N1, the researchers said. H5N1 is the bird flu virus currently infecting humans in Asia and Eastern Europe, and flu experts fear it could mutate in a way that would allow it to cause a worldwide pandemic in humans.

“These studies provide the first fundamental insight into the evolution of influenza viruses in nature-the source of all influenza viruses that affect humans, domestic animals and birds,” said Robert G. Webster, Ph.D., a member of the Infectious Diseases department and holder of the Rose Marie Thomas Chair at St. Jude. “This information is a true gold mine, and we are inviting all of the miners to help us unlock the secrets of influenza.” Webster is an internationally renowned expert on bird flu viruses and a co-author of the report that appears in the January 27 issue of Science.

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HIV/AIDS in China a major cause for concern

AIDS/HIVJan 26 06

Despite the announcement by China that it has dropped its estimate of the number of HIV/AIDS victims in the country by nearly 30 percent, world health experts are warning against complacency, and are saying the HIV/AIDS numbers are in fact still rising and many people are unaware of the dangers.

In China last year health experts say as many as 200 people a day became infected with HIV, and the disease was now moving from high-risk groups like sex workers and intravenous drug users into the general population.

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British workers not eligible for asbestos awards

Public HealthJan 26 06

Thousands of Britons who have been exposed to asbestos at work have no right to compensation, a court ruled on Thursday in a landmark judgment that may save insurers more than 1 billion pounds ($1.79 billion).

The Court of Appeal ruled that people suffering from pleural plaques, a thickening of the lining of the lungs caused by being exposed to the cancer-causing, fireproof fibre asbestos, are not eligible for compensation.

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Cancer plan progresses but problems remain -MPs

CancerJan 26 06

A 10-year plan to cut deaths from cancer in England has made significant progress but a clear gap between rich and poor areas of the country remains, a report by an influential committee of MPs said on Thursday.

The government’s NHS Cancer Plan, set up in 2000, aimed to provide a comprehensive strategy for tackling the disease with the creation of 34 networks to improve prevention and diagnosis, and ensure patients received the best treatment.

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Japan top court rejects appeal by former smokers

Tobacco & MarijuanaJan 26 06

Former smokers seeking damages from the government and a cigarette maker for illnesses they said were caused by their habit had their appeal rejected by Japan’s top court on Thursday.

The Supreme Court finalised decisions by lower courts rejecting claims in a suit that was originally filed in 1998 by six men, three of whom have since died, Kyodo news agency said.

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Korean cloning scandal shows system works

Public HealthJan 26 06

South Korea’s cloning scandal shows that the current research system can police itself and that governments don’t need to crack down on scientific fraud, a stem cell expert said on Wednesday.

Scientist Hwang Woo-suk has been stripped of his titles at Seoul National University, and South Korean prosecutors have said Hwang’s team did not produce any human embryonic stem cells in 2004 and 2005, as it had claimed in landmark papers.

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Blood-thinner linked to osteoporotic fractures

Drug AbuseJan 25 06

The long-term use of warfarin, a drug commonly prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots, appears to increase the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis, a bone-thinning condition that usually increased with age, according to a report.

As the study authors note, warfarin prevents coagulation by blocking vitamin K, which is needed to activate certain clotting factors. Because vitamin K is also used to activate proteins involved in bone formation, drugs like warfarin may increase the risk of fractures, the researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Researchers use new approach to ‘break the code’ for liver cancer test

CancerJan 25 06

Scientists at Birmingham University are using cutting edge technologies to move closer to a blood test that will improve early diagnosis of liver cancer in high risk groups, according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Cancer which first arises in the liver, or hepatocellular carcinoma, is the sixth most common cancer in the world, being especially widespread in East Asia. Treatment works better the earlier it is administered, so finding a way to pick up small tumours in the liver is crucial. High-risk groups, such as people with cirrhosis of the liver, can be monitored currently, but tests are not sensitive enough to detect the disease early.

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Continuous positive airways pressure for obstructive sleep apnoea in adults

Respiratory ProblemsJan 25 06

A machine that delivers air through a nasal mask worn during sleep can reduce daytime sleepiness and other symptoms associated with sleep apnea, but apnea patients are not always happy with the treatment, according to two new reviews of recent studies.

In apnea patients, the airway in the nose and throat periodically narrows or closes off during sleep, stopping breathing for seconds at a time. People with apnea usually snore and feel sleepy and less alert in the daytime. Some studies suggest apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke and may be a factor in traffic accidents.

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Echinacea Does Not Prevent Colds, More Evidence Shows

Alternative MedicineJan 25 06

The herbal supplement echinacea, when taken in certain forms, may help shorten the duration and severity of cold symptoms but is not effective for preventing the common cold, according to a systematic review of current evidence.

“Frankly, I would not actively recommend that consumers take echinacea preparations at the moment,” said lead study author Dr. Klaus Linde of the Center for Complementary Medicine Research, Technical University of Munich.

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Contraceptive pills do not lead to major weight gain

Gender: FemaleJan 25 06

Many women and clinicians worry that taking combination hormonal contraceptives will result in weight gain.

This anxiety deters some women from using this highly effective form of contraception. A systematic review of available data could however find no evidence of this effect. The results of this research are published in the latest update of The Cochrane Library.

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Foot pain should not prevent obese from exercising

PainJan 25 06

Obese people should seek immediate treatment for chronic foot and ankle problems that limit physical activity, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) urge.

“As our body weight increases, more load and stress are put on the feet,” foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Sean Wilson of Aspen Ortho & Rehab Specialists in West Allis, Wisconsin, and ACFAS spokesman, told Reuters Health.

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Study confirms location of potential autism gene

GeneticsJan 25 06

In another step toward unraveling the origins of autism, a new study confirms that a region of chromosome number 3 seems to be involved in the development of the disorder.

There was no evidence, however, that mutations in one suspect gene increase the risk of autism.

Analyzing DNA from 31 members of a family of Northern European ancestry in which 7 individuals had autism or an autism-related disorder, researchers found that a portion of chromosome 3 appeared to be linked with the disorder.

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Belgian military takes aim at obesity

ObesityJan 25 06

The Belgian military has launched a slimming campaign for its forces whose obesity rate has swollen to 14 percent.

Incentives to practise sport and an awareness campaign were among elements of the plan to trim an obesity rate above the overall national average of 12 percent.

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