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Health Headlines - February 24

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:25pm
Vietnam Appeals for Help in Bird Flu Fight

Vietnam, the country hit worst by bird flu, has appealed for technical and financial help to fight the virus now endemic in the region, its chief of animal health said on Thursday.

Abstinence Programs Failing in Uganda AIDS Study

Programs that promote abstinence and monogamy to combat AIDS are failing in a landmark Ugandan study, and only condom use has kept the deadly virus in check, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Pregnant Women Risk Murder in U.S., Report Finds

Murder is a surprisingly common cause of death among pregnant women in the United States, U.S. government researchers reported on Wednesday.

Drug Cuts Damage, Death from Brain Bleeding

A single dose of a drug already used to treat hemophilia can help limit brain damage caused by the deadliest and most debilitating form of stroke, according to results of an international study released on Wednesday.

Government Paying Ever More Health Costs

Within a decade, the public sector will be paying nearly half the cost of U.S. health care, which is also swallowing an ever-larger chunk of the nation's resources, government economists reported on Wednesday.

Once-A-Day Morphine Helps with Cancer Pain

A new once-a-day morphine formulation appears to provide better control of cancer pain than an earlier twice-daily version of the agent, according to Canadian researchers.

Too Much Red Meat Bad for Long-Term Health

When it comes to high protein diets and health, the source of the protein really does matter, new research suggests.

Think Secrecy Makes Love Sweeter? Think Again

Contrary to popular opinion, having a secret relationship doesn't fuel love's flames -- in fact, secrecy may do exactly the opposite, new research suggests.

Study Shows How Green Tea May Fight Bladder Cancer

Green tea extract may interfere with a process that helps early bladder cancer to spread throughout the body, new laboratory research suggests.

The findings, say researchers, bolster ongoing studies into green tea extract as a cancer treatment -- and may give green tea drinkers more reason to savor every cup.

The investigators found that when they exposed human bladder cells to both a cancer-causing chemical and green tea extract, the extract interfered with a particular process by which early cancer cells become invasive and spread throughout body tissue.

This process involves the "remodeling" of actin, a structural protein in cells that is essential for cell movement. Actin remodeling allows cancer cells to move and invade nearby healthy tissue.

Based on the new findings, green tea extract may get in the way of this process by activating a protein known as Rho, which helps regulate actin's organization in cells and has been implicated in tumor development and progression.

Dr. JianYu Rao and his colleagues at the University of California Los Angeles report the findings in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

A number of studies have suggested that green tea and extracts of the beverage may have cancer-preventing abilities, possibly due to the tea's concentration of certain antioxidants -- compounds that help ward off cell damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease and other ills.

But exactly how green tea may act in the body to fight cancer is not clear. Lab research has suggested it can act in several ways -- from hindering tumors from forming their own blood supply to forcing abnormal cells to commit suicide.

The current study points to an entirely new mechanism, Rao told Reuters Health in an interview.

Green tea extract, he explained, appears to diminish cancer cells' invasiveness -- suggesting that it could be used in the early stages of cancer treatment.

One recent study found that green tea extract brought no benefit to men with advanced prostate cancer. But Rao said that any effects of the extract on cancer would probably occur in the early stages.

He and his colleagues are now conducting a clinical trial to see whether green tea extract can reduce the risk of bladder cancer recurrence in patients with a history of smoking, which is a risk factor for the disease.

Uncovering the details of how green tea may stymie cancer could help doctors figure out which patients are likely to benefit from treatment with extracts, Rao said. It may be possible to look for specific markers of actin remodeling and Rho activation in patients' urine to determine who is best suited for such therapy.

It's also possible, Rao said, that drinking green tea could reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer in the first place -- though no one knows how many cups a person would have to sip over a lifetime.

Judge Extends Stay in Right-To-Die Case

A judge Wednesday extended an order keeping brain-damaged Terri Schiavo's feeding tube in place, saying he needed time to decide whether her parents should be allowed to pursue further efforts to keep her husband from removing her life support.

U.S. Prepares to Test Bird Flu Vaccine

Amid dire warnings of an Asian pandemic, the government is preparing to test an experimental bird flu vaccine and is increasing disease surveillance in hopes of reducing the toll from any eventual American outbreak.

Study: Drug Helps Bleeding Stroke Patients

A drug that keeps hemophiliacs from bleeding to death could also prove to be the first treatment for the most lethal and crippling type of stroke, the kind caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain.

Study Finds Cholera Vaccine Effective

A small study from the world's first mass immunization campaign against cholera suggests that the vaccine may work in people with the AIDS virus — a finding that could prove useful in Africa, where HIV is rampant, researchers say.

Soy Industry Looks for the Next Big Thing

Soy milk, once a staple found only in natural and health food stores, is now sold side-by-side with regular milk in chain supermarkets. Soy's move into the mainstream has led to vigorous sales of such products in recent years.

Scientists Examines Workplace Germs

You probably clean vigorously at home, at least occasionally. But how often does this happen at work, the valiant efforts of the janitorial staff notwithstanding?

Expert: Baby Swings Can Trigger Dog Attack

Rocking your baby to sleep in a mechanical swing can trigger a deadly attack on the child by the family dog, a coroner warns.

Study: Anti-Smoking Campaign Is Helping

A nationwide ad campaign funded largely by the tobacco industry has helped cut youth smoking rates, a study by a health journal estimates. But anti-smoking advocates say money for such campaigns is drying up.

Health Depts. Said Unprepared for Crisis

More than three years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many state health departments are not prepared for a crisis, a government official said Wednesday.

Study: Drinking Triples Injury Risk

There's more evidence that overindulging in drink can have very serious consequences: A new study finds drinkers are three times more likely to die from injury as non-drinkers or former drinkers.

New Clues to Protecting Diabetic Kidneys

Drugs that block the renin-angiotensin system (RAS blockers) may help protect people with diabetes from kidney damage by improving blood flow to the kidneys, according to two new studies.

Health Tip: Preventing Falls Among the Elderly

Of all fall-related deaths, more than 60 percent involve people who are 75 years old or older. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among the elderly.

Overnight Test Best at Spotting Sleep Apnea

A high-tech overnight sleep test may be the only reliable way for doctors to differentiate plain old snoring from more dangerous sleep apnea, claims a new study.

Tea Might Protect Transplanted Livers

An antioxidant found in green tea may help protect patients recovering from liver transplant, suggests a study in mice.

Marijuana-like Ingredient Could Slow Alzheimer's

By suppressing inflammation in the brain, a synthetic marijuana compound could potentially offer some protection against Alzheimer's disease, Spanish scientists report.

Second Gene Mutation Explains Lung Cancer Drug Resistance

A second gene mutation explains why some lung cancer tumors become resistant to treatment with new cancer drugs meant to disrupt a molecular target that helps tumors grow, two separate research teams report.

Drug Benefit Will Boost Government's Financial Burden

With a new Medicare drug benefit taking effect in 2006, the government will be picking up the tab for nearly half of all health-care costs within the next decade, a new report predicts.

Scientists discover a key to how AIDS virus attacks the body

U.S. scientists announced the discovery of a key element in the workings of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, which could eventually lead to the creation of effective vaccines against the virus.

Asia facing real risk of bird flu pandemic: experts

The deadly bird flu virus will take years to eradicate and Asia now faces the serious risk of a pandemic that would cause far greater loss of life than the SARS outbreak, experts told a landmark conference.

Nigeria to dramatically increase drugs cover for HIV/AIDS patients

Nigerian plans to dramatically increase the number of AIDS/HIV sufferers covered by its subsidized anti-retroviral drugs program but will still fall far short of meeting demand, officials said.

Deadly snake venom a potential heart-starter, say Australian researchers

A venom extract from one of the world's deadliest snakes offers a potential treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF), Australian researchers said.

Sweden and ADB set up multi-donor trust fund to fight HIV/AIDS

Sweden and the Asian Development Bank signed an agreement to set up a multi-donor trust fund to help developing countries in the Asia Pacific region fight HIV/AIDS.

Leading Sydney surgeon quits hospital in protest at deadly delays

A leading Australian surgeon has resigned from a Sydney hospital in protest at lengthy surgery waiting lists that he said had resulted in patient deaths.

Bill Clinton on low-key visit to China to promote AIDS awareness

Former US president Bill Clinton was in Beijing to promote AIDS awareness on a low-key visit which will also focus on aid to tsunami-hit countries around the Indian Ocean.
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