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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Public Health


Test shows no health risk to food from oil spill

Public HealthOct 30 10

Testing has helped confirm that chemicals used to disperse oil from the BP spill have not made their way into fish, crabs, shrimp or oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. officials said on Friday.

Tests of more than 1,700 samples show that fewer than 1 percent had any trace of chemicals at all, and the ones that did had extremely low levels, the officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“This additional round of testing has confirmed ... that Gulf seafood brought to market is safe,” Dr. Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, FDA’s senior adviser for science and innovation, told a telephone briefing.

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Anna Nicole Smith boyfriend convicted in drug trial

Public HealthOct 30 10

Anna Nicole Smith’s former boyfriend and a doctor were convicted on Thursday of helping to keep the former Playboy model supplied with painkillers and other prescription drugs before her death.

But after a two-month trial, a Los Angeles jury acquitted a second doctor on all charges in what was seen by the defense as a victory for physicians who treat patients with chronic pain.

Smith’s companion and lawyer Howard K. Stern was convicted on two counts of conspiracy for using false names to obtain prescription drugs for his lover, but was acquitted on seven more serious charges.

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Studies examine costs, prospects of ending malaria

InfectionsOct 30 10

Eliminating malaria can be achieved only with repeated investment over the long term and will require a major shift in policy and funding now focused on control of the disease, experts said on Friday.

In a series of studies in the Lancet medical journal about the prospect of trying to eradicate the often deadly infectious disease, scientists said that for many countries, wiping it out would take many decades rather than be a quick victory.

Like routine immunizations against diseases such as smallpox or measles, it would require long-term investment to make sure the disease does not come back, even after the intensive elimination activity is over, they said.

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Burning straw, dung tied to kids’ anemia

Children's Health • • AnemiaOct 30 10

Households in developing countries that regularly burn wood, straw, dung and other natural materials are more likely to also contain children with anemia, a new report finds.

Families in 29 countries who burned so-called “biofuels” for cooking or heating were 7 percent more likely to include a child with mild anemia.

When the researchers from McMaster University in Canada compared national-level data, they found that the countries with more residents burning biofuels were also home to more children with moderate or severe anemia.

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Programs Help Blacks Get Needed Colorectal Cancer Screening

African-Americans are less likely than whites to be screened for colorectal cancer, and the disparity almost certainly contributes to higher mortality. A new review of studies identifies effective strategies for improving the situation, but suggests that work remains to be done.

“We have seen some success in interventions, and shown that it’s important to tailor approaches to African American individuals and to use multiple approaches, strategies, and communication media,” said review author Barbara Powe, Ph.D.

The studies’ lack of long term follow-up represents “a gap in research,” however. “We need to learn to design interventions to create patterns of screening that could enhance screening for other cancers as well,” said Powe, a registered nurse and director of Cancer Communication Science for the American Cancer Society.

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Scientists call for tighter regulations on food adverts during children’s TV viewing

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthOct 29 10

The researchers, in partnership with the Cancer Council, Australia, studied 12,618 food advertisements from 11 countries and found that 67 per cent endorsed unhealthy food. The research builds on a previous study at Liverpool which revealed that children would consume twice as many calories from snacks after watching food adverts compared to after viewing advertising for toys and games.

The research reveals that Germany, Spain and Greece have the highest frequency of adverts promoting unhealthy foods during children’s peak viewing time, compared to other European countries and parts of the US, Canada and Australia. These adverts tend to feature child-orientated persuasive techniques, such as the use of popular animated characters and celebrities.

Although the US, Canada and Australia have a lower rate of unhealthy food advertising overall, broadcasters still air the adverts more frequently during a time when children are watching.

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Most prefer touching toilet to handshake

Public HealthOct 28 10

Most U.S. adults would rather touch a public toilet seat than shake someone’s hand after they’ve coughed or sneezed into it, a survey indicates.

The survey, commissioned by Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, says two in five U.S. adults say they have hesitated to shake hands with someone because of their fear of germs.

Four in five Americans say they think people are shaking hands less frequently than they did 25 years ago. However, 56 percent say cold and flu germs are the worst part of a winter handshake, and 49 would prefer using a fist bump over a handshake—15 percent due to the fear of germs, 13 percent because of sweaty palms and 6 percent because of dry hands.

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Canada needs to improve end-of-life care

Public HealthOct 27 10

Better psychological and spiritual support, improved planning of care and stronger relationships with physicians are necessary to improve end-of-life care in Canada, according to a study by a Queen’s University professor.

“High quality end-of-life care should be the right of every Canadian,” says professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Daren Heyland, who is also a researcher at Kingston General Hospital. “But it’s not always happening. We know from international studies that Canada ranks ninth in the world in terms of quality of care provided at the end of life.”

The study, a questionnaire that aimed to measure satisfaction with end-of-life care for patients with advanced diseases and their families, involved 363 patients over 55 years of age and 193 family caregivers.

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Small particles show big promise in beating unpleasant odors

Public HealthOct 27 10

Scientists are reporting development of a new approach for dealing with offensive household and other odors — one that doesn’t simply mask odors like today’s room fresheners, but eliminates them at the source. Their research found that a deodorant made from nanoparticles — hundreds of times smaller than peach fuzz — eliminates odors up to twice as effectively as today’s gold standard. A report on these next-generation odor-fighters appears in ACS’ Langmuir, a bi-weekly journal.

Brij Moudgil and colleagues note that consumers use a wide range of materials to battle undesirable odors in clothing, on pets, in rooms, and elsewhere. Most common household air fresheners, for instance, mask odors with pleasing fragrances but do not eliminate the odors from the environment. People also apply deodorizing substances that absorb smells. These materials include activated carbon and baking soda. However, these substances tend to have only a weak ability to absorb the chemicals responsible for the odor.

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Tobacco and its evil cousin, nicotine? They’re good—as a pesticide!

Tobacco & MarijuanaOct 27 10

Tobacco, used on a small scale as a natural organic pesticide for hundreds of years, is getting new scientific attention as a potential mass-produced alternative to traditional commercial pesticides. That’s the topic of a report in ACS’ bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Cedric Briens and colleagues note that concerns about the health risks of tobacco have reduced demand and hurt tobacco farmers in some parts of the world. Scientists are looking for new uses for tobacco. One potential use is as a natural pesticide, due to tobacco’s content of toxic nicotine. For centuries, gardeners have used home-made mixtures of tobacco and water as a natural pesticide to kill insect pests. A “green” pesticide industry based on tobacco could provide additional income for farmers, and as well as a new eco-friendly pest-control agent, the scientists say.

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Scientists meet in Ethiopia to broaden market opportunities for Africa’s livestock farmers

Public HealthOct 27 10

As agricultural leaders across the globe look for ways to increase investments in agriculture to boost world food production, experts in African livestock farming are meeting in Addis Ababa this week to deliberate on ways to get commercialized farm production, access to markets, innovations, gender issues and pro-poor policies right for Africa’s millions of small-scale livestock farmers and herders.

More than 70 percent of Africa’s rural poor are livestock farmers. Each farm animal raised is a rare source of high-quality food, particularly of dietary protein, minerals, vitamins and micronutrients, for these households. Pastoralists, who rely on herding their animal stock to survive in the continent’s dry and otherwise marginalized environments, also make up a significant number of Africa’s population.

‘There is a growing recognition by governments and donors that expanding investment in the agricultural sector is a cornerstone for alleviating poverty and building assets in Africa and other developing regions,’ said Carlos Seré, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

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Better transparency needed on medical journals’ competing interests

Public HealthOct 27 10

Journals need to develop policies to handle the inevitable competing interests that arise when they publish papers that may bring them reprint revenue or increase their impact factors. This is the conclusion of a research article by Andreas Lundh and colleagues from the Nordic Cochrane Centre published in this weeks PLoS Medicine. An accompanying perspective by Harvey Marcovitch, ex-chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and an editorial from the PLoS Medicine Editors discusses this issue further, concluding that journals should apply the same degree of transparency that they require from authors, to themselves.

The article examined randomized clinical trials published in six general medical journals (not including PLoS Medicine but including New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, and JAMA,) over two time periods, 1996� and 2005�, and assessed which of the trials were supported wholly, partly, or not at all by industry. They then used the online academic citation index Web of Science to calculate an approximate impact factor for each journal for 1998 and 2007 and calculated the effect of the published RCTs on the impact factor.

The proportion of RCTs with sole industry support varied between journals. 32% of the RCTs published in the NEJM during both two-year periods had industry support whereas only 7% of the RCTs published in the BMJ in 2005� had industry support. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than RCTs with other types of support; omitting industry-supported RCTs from impact factor calculations decreased all the approximate journal impact factors. For example, omitting all RCTs with industry or mixed support decreased the 2007 BMJ and NEJM impact factors by 1% and 15%, respectively.

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Study Looks at Suspected Link Between Corn Mycotoxin and Birth Defects

ChildbirthOct 26 10

A Creighton University School of Medicine researcher has been awarded a $2.7 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate a possible link between the ingestion of tortillas and corn-based food products contaminated with a fungal toxin and increased risk for birth defects.

The three-year award is a collaborative effort among investigators at Creighton, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in Athens, Georgia; Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and Centro de Investigaciones en Nutricion y Salud (CIENSA) in Guatemala.

Janee Gelineau-van Waes, D.V.M., Ph.D., principal investigator and associate professor in Creighton’s Department of Pharmacology, will use the grant to continue her research studying a potential connection between exposure to fumonisin during early pregnancy and an increased risk for having a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD).

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Pregnancy outcome affected by immune system genes

Immunology • • PregnancyOct 26 10

A team of researchers, led by Ashley Moffett, at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, has shed new light on genetic factors that increase susceptibility to and provide protection from common disorders of pregnancy, specifically recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia, and fetal growth restriction.

A key step in the initiation of a successful pregnancy is the invasion of the lining of the uterus by fetal cells known as trophoblasts, which become the main cell type of the placenta. Recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia, and fetal growth restriction are thought to result from inadequate trophoblast invasion of the uterus lining. Interactions between maternal cells known as uterine NK cells and fetal trophoblasts — specifically interactions between HLA-C molecules on the fetal trophoblasts and KIRs on the maternal uterine NK cells — are key to determining the extent of trophoblast invasion. Previous data from Moffett’s lab indicated that a particular combination of fetal HLA-C and maternal KIR was associated with increased risk of preeclampsia. In this study, the team has extended this correlation to recurrent miscarriage and fetal growth restriction. Furthermore, they have determined that the presence of other maternal KIRs that combine with the same HLA-C molecule provides protection against the same common disorders of pregnancy.

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The bonus of the fitness buddy

Public HealthOct 26 10

Fitness loves company, whether it’s a running buddy, a spotter in the weight room, or a pal to bolster your courage as you tackle that first yoga class.

Experts say buddying up can make your workout easier to stick with and harder to miss.

“People don’t necessarily work out for social reasons, but that social factor can keep them working out,” said Kerri O’Brien of Life Fitness, the equipment manufacturer.

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