disease & medicine

Study finds BPA may harm developing brains

Study finds BPA may harm developing brains

ABC – A US study has prompted calls for the chemical bisphenol-A to be banned in Australia after it raised questions about its impact on embryo brains. Researchers at the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina found that bisphenol-A [BPA] may suppress a gene vital to the development of the central nervous system. Read article

Could An Antibiotic From Human Sweat Fight Hospital Superbugs And TB?

MNT – An antibiotic created from human sweat might fight off hospital superbugs and deadly strains of tuberculosis, scientists reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers, from Scotland, Germany, France and Spain explained that a protein found on human skin – Dermcidin – is activated in sweat (slightly acidic and salty environments) and kills harmful microbes by perforating their cell membranes. Read article

Affymax, Takeda recall anemia drug Omontys after deaths

Reuters – U.S.-based Affymax Inc and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said they are voluntarily recalling all lots of anemia treatment Omontys (peginesatide) in the United States due to reports of serious hypersensitivity reactions, including some deaths. As of Sunday, fatal reactions to the injection have been reported in about 0.02 percent of 25,000 patients after receiving their initial injection of the treatment, Affymax said in a statement. Read article

A Kenyan eye clinic with a long vision

BBC – In the last six years the firm, which opened with just a few patients, has become East Africa’s leading eye clinic and offers a wide range of services, from eye tests to laser surgery. “Right from the onset our dream was to work in a centre that can be able to provide all types of eye care as a one-stop shop,” one of the founders, Dr Kahaki Kimani, told the BBC’s series African Dream. Read article

Vitamin D may help women recover grip strength after wrist fracture

healio – In a study of 70 women with distal radius fractures, investigators found post-injury vitamin D supplementation, young age and increased wrist range of motion 6 months after injury were associated with recovery of grip strength. “This study demonstrated that in women with a distal radius fracture, baseline vitamin D level is not associated with grip strength recovery in the injured hand,” Hui Jong Lee, MD, and colleagues wrote in their abstract. “However, baseline vitamin D level correlated with grip strength in the uninjured hand.” Read article

In U.S., flu vaccine worked in just over half of those who got it

Reuters – A U.S. government analysis of this season’s flu vaccine suggests it was effective in only 56 percent of people who got the shot, and it largely failed to protect the elderly against an especially deadly strain circulating during flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings underscore the need for more effective weapons in the fight against influenza, which kills between 3,000 and 50,000 people in the United States each year depending on the severity of the flu season. “We simply need a better vaccine against influenza, one that works better and lasts longer,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a statement on Thursday. Read Article

Australia: Biologists find key to new anti-malarial drug

DW – Australian researchers say they have found the key to a new anti-malarial drug, which kills the parasite responsible with a salt overdose. It’s the first new discovery in the fight against malaria in 20 years. Professor Kiaran Kirk and his team at the Australian National University worked with researchers from the United States and Singapore to discover the mechanism which makes the new drug work. He told DW that understanding this will enable researchers to track its long-term effectiveness and to detect whether the malaria parasite is able to develop resistance. Read article

Serbia: Suspected Toxic Milk Taken Off Shelves

AP — Serbian officials ordered some brands of milk taken off store shelves Wednesday, despite earlier claims that they were safe and not dangerously contaminated with a potentially cancer-causing toxin. The order came after widespread public outrage over allegations that health authorities have for weeks been hiding the results of lab tests which reportedly show that much of the milk sold in Serbia contains high levels of aflatoxins, a fungus linked to mildewed cattle feed that can cause cancer if consumed in high doses. Read article

Feds Set New Rules for Controversial Bird Flu Research

NPR – Government-funded scientists here in the U.S. are a step closer to being able to resume some controversial experiments with lab-altered bird flu viruses. Researchers in the Netherlands restarted their experiments a week ago, after scientists around the world declared an end in January to a year-long voluntary moratorium. But labs that depend on funding from the National Institutes of Health to do this work have had to wait for the agency to tell them what kind of studies can go proceed. Read article

Stress and anxiety linked to sperm quality

Reuters – A man’s ability to produce sperm may depend on his ability to handle stress, according to a new study from Italy. Researchers found that men with higher levels of both short- and long-term stress and anxiety ejaculated less semen and had lower sperm concentration and counts. Men with the highest anxiety levels were also more likely to have sperm that were deformed or less mobile. Read article

US: Just say don’t: Doctors question routine tests and treatments

Reuters – That’s how many medical tests, treatments and other procedures – many used for decades – physicians have now identified as almost always unnecessary and often harmful, and which doctors and patients should therefore avoid or at least seriously question. The lists of procedures, released on Thursday by the professional societies of 17 medical specialties ranging from neurology and ophthalmology to thoracic surgery, are part of a campaign called Choosing Wisely. Organized by the American Board of Internal Medicine’s foundation, it aims to get doctors to stop performing useless procedures and spread the word to patients that some don’t help and might hurt. Read article

Adults cut back fast food, but U.S. kids still eat too much fat: CDC

Reuters – American adults have made a little progress in recent years in cutting back on calories from fast food, but children are still consuming too much fat, U.S. health researchers say. French fries, pizza and similar items accounted for about 11 percent of U.S. adults’ caloric intake from 2007 to 2010, on average, down from about 13 percent between 2003 and 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in one of two reports released on Thursday. Read article

UK: One in ten school-starters is obese, a figure that doubles by senior school

Daily Mail – One in 10 children is obese when they start school, say shocking new figures. By the time they are ready to go to senior school, the proportion has doubled to almost 20 per cent. Overall, three in 10 boys and girls aged two to 15 are overweight or clinically obese – so fat it threatens their health. Read article

Anti-anxiety drug found in rivers makes fish more aggressive

Nature – Tiny amounts of a common anti-anxiety medication — which ends up in wastewater after patients pass it into their urine — significantly alters fish behaviour, according to a new study. The drug makes timid fish bold, antisocial and voracious, researchers have found. Oxazepam belongs to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines, the most widely prescribed anxiety drugs, and is thought to be highly stable in aquatic environments. It acts by enhancing neuron signals that damp down the brain’s activity, helping patients to relax. Read article

Proteins behind mad-cow disease also help brain to develop

Nature – Prions are best known as the infectious agents that cause ‘mad cow’ disease and the human versions of it, such as variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. But the proteins also have at least one known useful function, in the cells that insulate nerves, and are suspected to have more. Now researchers have provided the first direct evidence that the proteins play an important role in neurons themselves. The team reports in the Journal of Neuroscience1 that prions are involved in developmental plasticity, the process by which the structure and function of neurons in the growing brain is shaped by experience. Read article

Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria: WHO

Reuters – Typhoid has broken out in an opposition-held region of Syria due to people drinking contaminated water from the Euphrates River, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. An estimated 2,500 people in northeastern Deir al-Zor province are infected with the contagious disease, which causes diarrhea and can be fatal, the United Nations agency said. Read article

Man-made chemicals cited in health scourges: UN report

Reuters – Man-made chemicals in everyday products are likely to be at least the partial cause of a global surge in birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, a U.N.-sponsored research team reported on Tuesday. These substances, dubbed EDCs, could also be linked to a decline in the human male sperm count and female fertility, to an increase in once-rare childhood cancers and to the disappearance of some animal species, they said. Read article

Topeka, Kansas, Urged To Remove Fluoride From Drinking Water To Protect Legislators’ IQs

Huffington Post – A Republican group in Kansas wants Topeka city officials to remove fluoride from the city’s drinking water in order to preserve the intelligence of legislators in the state’s capital. Citing concerns about the chemical’s impact on IQ, the Kansas Republican Assembly, a conservative group that has campaigned against fluoridation, is sending a letter to Topeka’s top leaders urging that the city’s fluoride pipe be shut off during the annual legislative session. A draft of the letter and the minutes of the group’s January meeting where the proposal was made surfaced on the KRA’s website in recent days. Read article

Britain: Obesity crisis: doctors demand soft drinks tax and healthier hospital food

Guardian – Britain’s 220,000 doctors are demanding a 20% increase in the cost of sugary drinks, fewer fast food outlets near schools and a ban on unhealthy food in hospitals to prevent the country’s spiralling obesity crisis becoming unresolvable. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is calling for action by ministers, the NHS, councils and food firms, as well as changes in parental behaviour, to break the cycle of “generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death”. Read article

Study links smoking bans to fewer pre-term births

Reuters – Banning smoking in enclosed public places can lead to lower rates of preterm birth, according to Belgian researchers who say the findings point to health benefits of smoke-free laws even in very early life. It is well known that smoking during pregnancy can stunt the growth of unborn babies and shorten gestation, and that second-hand smoke exposure can also effect births, but little was known about the impact of smoking bans on preterm birth rates. Read article