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Health news and comment from around the world.

December 21, 2004

Theory that could help to cure diseases including cancer
An Open University science student has astonished the world of medicine with a theory that could help to cure diseases including cancer. The 40-year-old project manager Gary Smith was learning about inflammation as part of an OU course Molecules in Medicine when he struck on a hypothesis so extraordinary that it could have implications for the treatment of almost every inflammatory disease – including Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis and even HIV and AIDS.
Read article at News-Medical.net

One in four die from cancer, England and Wales
A quarter of all deaths in England and Wales in 2003 were caused by cancer, according to detailed analysis of deaths occurring in England and Wales. The main causes of death in 2003 were circulatory diseases (38 per cent), which include coronary heart disease and strokes, followed by cancers (26 per cent) and respiratory diseases (14 per cent), which include pneumonia.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

December 17, 2004

European study highlights persistent three decade increase in childhood cancer
Research from 19 European countries documents how childhood cancer, while still rare, has been slowly increasing over the past 3 decades.
Read article at TheLancet.com

December 13, 2004

Gates research grant to fund malaria drug. Engineered version sought of effective Chinese herbal cure
A Berkeley scientist, an Albany biotechnology start-up and a unique San Francisco non-profit drug company will announce today they have received a $43 million grant to develop a cheaper version of a Chinese herbal drug that is considered the most effective cure for malaria. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle will provide the money to speed the development of a genetically engineered form of artemisinin, an herbal medicine derived from the dried leaves of the wormwood plant.
Read article at SanFransicoChronicle.com
The Institute for One World Health website can be found here

December 10, 2004

Childhood cancer rates rise in Europe
Cancer rates among children have been rising in the UK and Europe over the last 30 years, research has revealed. While childhood cancer is rare, the overall incidence has increased by 1% a year since the 1970s, and 1.5% a year for adolescents, scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, say in research published today in the medical journal Lancet.
Read article at NetDoctor.co.uk
The full study published in The Lancet can be found here

December 8, 2004

Fines loom in vitamin cartel case
A handful of chemical companies will be fined by the European Commission on Thursday for operating a cartel that fixed the price of a vitamin supplement, one of the companies said Tuesday.
Read article at InternationalHeraldTribune.com

December 6, 2004

Antimicrobial May Harm Developing Nervous System
Prolonged exposure to a germ killer widely used in industry and in household and personal care products, stunts the growth of developing nerves in the brains of rats, according to new research.
Read article at Reuters.com

December 2, 2004

"Fossil Record" of the Human Immune System Reveals Antibodies
that Block Cancer Metastasis

A team of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute has reconstructed the "fossil record" of the immune systems of a group of human cancer patients to investigate if they had ever produced antibodies against their disease.
Read article at Scripps.edu

December 1, 2004

Blair sets sights on Aids fight
Dealing with problems in Africa, including HIV and Aids, will be one of the priorities of Britain's G8 presidency, Tony Blair has said. In an interview to mark World Aids Day, Mr Blair said tackling the disease in the worst-affected parts of the world needs money and good leadership.
Read article at BBCNews.co.uk

November 30, 2004

Psychological stress and disease link
Increasing scientific evidence suggests that prolonged psychological stress takes its toll on the body, but the exact mechanisms by which stress influences disease processes have remained elusive. Now, scientists report that psychological stress may exact its toll, at least in part, by affecting molecules believed to play a key role in cellular aging and, possibly, disease development.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

November 28, 2004

Enzyme 'key' to stopping cancer
Blocking a specific enzyme could be enough to check the spread of cancer in the human body, researchers say. Researchers believe their work may lead to new life-saving cancer treatments and help cut the amount of chemotherapy required to treat cancer effectively.
Read article at BBCNews.co.uk

November 16, 2004

UK Government issues health White Paper
Health Secretary John Reid today published Choosing Health the Government's White Paper on improving public health in England.
Read article at NewsMedical.net
The full white paper can be downloaded in sections here

Financial impact of diabetes on the American economy
Sick days, disability, early retirement, and premature death of diabetic Americans born between 1931 and 1941 cost the country almost $133.5 billion by the year 2000, according to a new estimate by researchers with the University of Michigan and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This analysis is the first to identify the staggering financial impact of diabetes on the economy using a single, consistent source of data -- the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a national longitudinal study funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Read article at NewsMedical.net
The HRS website can be found here

November 15, 2004

Malnutrition fear over patients
About two million hospital patients across the UK are suffering from malnutrition, a Scottish dietician has warned.
Professor Rosemary Richardson, of South Glasgow University Hospitals, said nutritional management must be addressed to prevent an epidemic. The condition is said to affect six in every 10 patients and about half of those in care or residential homes.
Read article at BBC.co.uk

November 8, 2004

For Nation, a Mixed Review on Health
Scrape off the color on the red states and the blue states and underneath is a different way of looking at America's regional differences.
There are the smoking states and the obesity states; the high-infant-mortality states and the stay-in-high-school states; the heart attack states and the killed-on-the-job states.
Read article at WashingtonPost.com

November 4, 2004

Little Improvement Seen in Medical Errors
Five years after a major report about an epidemic of medical errors in the U.S. health care system, little progress has been made to make medical care safer, experts say. Observers site a lack of money and political will needed to fund safety research and implement safeguards in hospitals and doctors' offices throughout the nation. But they also point to a resistant medical culture in which doctors still balk at efforts to record medical errors and participate in systematic steps to prevent them.
Read article at WebMD.com

November 3, 2004

WHO 'buried' report to please food industry
The World Health Organisation was yesterday accused of burying a report recommending that curbs on junk food advertising be incorporated into global food standards. Activists say hiding the report, which also calls for tough limits on sugar, salt and fat, comes after pressure from the food industry and its US backers.
Read article at Netdoctor.co.uk

November 2, 2004

Academics urge British Government to consider wider options
in public health white paper

The UK government's forthcoming public health white paper should consider other options aside from imposing personal obligations on individual citizens to take responsibility for their own health, if it is to succeed in improving the health of the nation, according to a leading health think tank.
Read article at News-Medical.net

Bristol scientists find key to unlock body's own cancer defence
Scientists at Bristol University have found that a protein present in normal body tissues can prevent tumour growth. A team led by Dr Dave Bates, British Heart Foundation Lecturer, and Dr Steve Harper, Senior Research Fellow in the Microvascular Research Laboratories, in the Department of Physiology at Bristol University, have discovered that a type of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) found in normal tissue, including blood, can prevent cancers from growing.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

November 1, 2004

'Ethnic drug' raises fears over race and genetics
The development of the first "ethnic drug" could reignite the race debate and even cause harm without a deeper understanding of the genetic basis behind such medicines, a professor warned yesterday. Next month the American Heart Association will be given details of a major trial on black people of the heart failure drug BiDil, which was ended prematurely because the results were so encouraging.
Read article at Netdoctor.co.uk

October 31, 2004

World Unprepared for Asian Flu, Experts Warn
The current U.S. flu vaccine shortage shows perfectly how poorly the world is prepared to handle the next global epidemic of influenza, health experts said on Sunday. There are few vaccines or drugs to fight the flu and it takes months to make them, so when the pandemic comes it could wreak havoc for a long time, the experts told a conference.
Read article at Reuters.com

October 30, 2004

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
The Lancet conducts a survey to compare mortality during the period of 14·6 months before the invasion of Iraq with the 17·8 months after it and concludes “… that about 100000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.”
Read article at TheLancet.com

New Alliance to Address Global Problem of Patient Safety
The World Health Organization and other partners today announced a series of key actions to cut the number of illnesses, injuries and deaths suffered by patients during health care, with the launch of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. The new alliance, launched at the Pan American Health Organization headquarters today, includes WHO, senior health officials, academics and patients' groups, who agreed to work together to advance the patient safety goal of "First do no harm" and to reduce the adverse health and social consequences of health care.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

October 27, 2004

Nearly 60% of American adults may have elevated blood pressure
Nearly 60 percent of American adults may have hypertension, or may be on the verge of suffering the condition, as measured by recently revised high blood pressure classifications. The finding, reported in the Oct. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, comes from nationally representative health data analyzed by two University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

Asda cancer claim costs pounds 5,000 fine
Asda was fined £ 5,000 yesterday for making illegal claims about the anti-cancer properties of its mangoes.The supermarket chain, whose parent company is the American firm Wal-Mart, admitted contravening the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.Swindon council's trading standards department took Asda to court after one of its officers spotted a sign while shopping in the Wiltshire town in June last year. The sign, relating to mangoes, read: "Their antioxidant properties help to fight cancer." The regulations state that any labelling claiming that a food prevents, treats or cures a disease is prohibited.
Read article at Netdoctor.co.uk

October 26, 2004

Big rise in child mortality rate in South Africa
In South Africa, there has been a rapid increase in child mortality - more than 106 000 children under the age of five die each year. A study released in 2003 by the Burden of Disease Research Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC), has shown that the below-five mortality rate in 2000 was estimated at 95 per 1 000 children.
Read article at IOL.co.za

Website on tobacco giant launched
A website has been launched detailing the inner workings of leading tobacco firm British American Tobacco. The site includes 1m pages of memos, research and reports, which BAT was forced to make public by a US court. The researchers compiled the site by scanning documents from BAT's depository in Guildford, Surrey.
Read article at News.BBC.co.uk

October 25, 2004

Biological weapons threat is real, we have to act now, say medical experts
Medical experts in the UK are saying that the threat of biological weapons is a real one. They insist action must take place now. According to the British Medical Association, the chances of preparing against the threat are closing as time goes by.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

October 24, 2004

S. Africa AIDS Group Drops Legal Case on Drug Delays
South Africa's main AIDS treatment lobby group has dropped a court case against the government demanding it reveal target dates for the rollout of life-prolonging drugs, activists and officials said Sunday. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said it withdrew the case after health officials informed them last month there was no officially adopted document on the timetable for the rollout of anti-retroviral drugs in public hospitals.
Read article at Reuters.com

October 22, 2004

Diseases of Western lifestyle linked to single genetic defect
A single genetic defect inherited solely from mothers may play a key role in a range of disorders linked to a Western lifestyle, such as high blood pressure and obesity. The discovery comes from a study of an extended family in the United States, which has given scientists an insight into the root cause of potentially lethal diseases of middle age.
Read article at Independent.co.uk

October 20, 2004

UK ups focus on disease prevention
The UK is increasing its focus on disease prevention under a new £12 million (€17.25m) initiative launched today. It aims to tackle some of the major health problems in the UK, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, by investing in research into disease prevention through the new National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI).
Read article at NutraIngredients.com

October 18, 2004

The secret epidemic
Heart disease kills nearly ten times more women a year than breast cancer, doctors warned yesterday. Cardiovascular illness - traditionally seen as a male problem - kills around 124,000 women annually while breast cancer claims 13,000 lives. But although one in six women in Britain will die from heart disease, few are aware of the risks compared to other more high-profile illnesses.
Read article at Netdoctor.co.uk

FDA clears RFID chip for humans
The US Food and Drug Administration this week approved the first implantable radiofrequency identification microchip for human use, elevating RFID from a tool for supply chain management into an enabling technology for improving healthcare delivery to patients.
Read article at InPharma.com

October 15, 2004

Epidemiological studies may mislead
Analysis and reporting of epidemiological data may be inadequate and misleading. Reviewing 73 studies published in January 2001, Pocock and colleagues found that some made exaggerated claims; statistical analysis was not always used appropriately; adjustment for confounders was often poorly explained; and subgroup analyses and multiple associations were overinterpreted. The choice of groupings and analysis for quantitative exposure variables was highly variable, and publication bias occurred. Overall, there is a serious risk that some epidemiological publications reach misleading conclusions, say the authors.
Read article at BMJ.com

October 11, 2004

New World Medical Association Secretary General Appointed
Dr Otmar Kloiber, deputy Secretary General of the German Medical Association, has been unanimously appointed as the new Secretary General of the World Medical Association. He succeeds Dr Delon Human, a former family physician from Pretoria, South Africa, who is standing down as Secretary General early next year after seven years in the position.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

Mental health fears in China
A new survey indicates that more than 30m Chinese children are suffering from mental health or behavioural problems. The figures also show that the number of children with such difficulties has risen sharply over the last 10 years. The Beijing University survey found up to 22% of children suffered emotional problems like depression and showed problematic behaviour like lying.
Read article at BBCNews.com

Coronary artery disease far more common in people with impaired kidney function
Kidney disease can be a cause and a consequence of heart disease, elevating the risk of heart disease even before it causes symptoms, according to a 2003 scientific statement by the American Heart Association. However, the extent to which impaired kidney function contributes to the prevalence of coronary artery disease in the U.S. population has not been quantified. Researchers analyzed the relationship between kidney function, other heart disease risk factors, and the prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) among 15,639 adults participating in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

October 10, 2004

Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research 2003
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces the release of the fifth issue of the Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research. This publication presents significant research in the dietary supplement field for the year 2003.
Read article at MedicalNewsToday.com

Antibiotic can 'turn off cancer'
Scientists have shown that a common antibiotic can turn off cancer cells in mice, offering hope of new treatments for cancer patients. The antibiotic worked by turning off a gene called Myc, which is known to trigger cancer.
Read article at BBCNews.com

October 7, 2004

Chronic Kidney Disease Soars in United States
The number of Americans suffering from chronic kidney failure more than doubled in the 1990s due to rising rates of diabetes and hypertension, an aging population and improved survival of kidney patients, a federal study said on Thursday. Kidney disease kills more than 50,000 people in the United States each year, making it the ninth leading cause of death. An estimated 19 million U.S. adults are living with the disease.
Read article at Reuters.com

August 7 , 2004

More proof of vitamin-cancer link
It may not only be the lack of vitamin D that increases a woman's breast cancer risk but also the way in which the body utilizes it, say researchers.
Read article at BBCNews.com

July 31, 2004

Cloning Experiment Shows Cancer Reversible - Report
A cloning experiment may show that the body itself has the ability to reverse cancer, U.S.-based researchers say.
Read article at Reuters.com

June 16, 2004

Joint initiative to tackle cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke
Three of the nation’s leading not-for-profit health agencies today announced a joint initiative to empower Americans to help lower their risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke by following a single set of recommendations. Combined, the four chronic diseases account for nearly two out of every three deaths in the United States.
Read article at News-Medical.net

May 29, 2004

The Copenhagen Consensus
Combating HIV/AIDS should be at the top of the world’s priority list. That is the recommendation from the Copenhagen Consensus 2004 expert panel of world-leading economists. About 28 million cases could be prevented by 2010. The cost would be $27 billion, with benefits almost forty times as high. Hunger is number two on the expert’s list. Diseases caused by iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A deficiency can be resolved by providing micro-nutrients. This would have an exceptionally high ratio of benefits to cost. The experts recommend investing $12 billion to resolve this problem. “Today 3.5 billion people lack iron. It is extremely important to do something about malnourishment, especially among children. I give that proposal a very high priority,” said Nobel Laureate Professor Douglass North, Washington University in Saint Louis.
Read article at CopenhagenConsensus.com

May 14, 2004

Survey: Arthritis grips 25 percent of Americans
Approximately one-quarter of American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis and another 17 percent may be suffering from the crippling disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Read article at CNN.com

February 17, 2004

Britain Faces Epidemic of Heart Rhythm Problem
Britain is facing an epidemic of chronic heart arrhythmia that will worsen as the population ages and stretch healthcare budgets, researchers said on Tuesday.
Read article at Reuters.com

February 13, 2004

Diabetes can cause liver cancer - new threat
In the largest study of its kind, researchers have shown that diabetes can cause chronic liver disease and cancer of the liver, increasing the threat posed by growing incidence of the disease around the world
Read article at Nutraingredients.com

January 24, 2004

Is folic acid the ultimate functional food component for disease prevention?
Mark Lucock, a lecturer in Human Nutrition at the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Newcastle in Australia , suggests that the world is entering a new era in preventive medicine in which the close relationship between diet and health is recognised, and that folic acid and related B-group vitamins could possibly have key roles. He also expresses some concerns at the use of synthetic folate to fortify foods mandatorily
Read article at BMJ.com

January 15, 2004

Academy of Sciences Calls for Universal Health Care by 2010
The president and Congress should immediately begin work to achieve health insurance coverage for all Americans by 2010, the National Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday. "It is time for our nation to extend coverage to everyone," the academy's Institute of Medicine said, in a report intended to put the issue back atop the national agenda. The report, summarizing three years of work by a panel of 15 experts, concluded, "Universal insurance coverage is an important and achievable goal for the country."
Read article at NYTimes.com

January 5, 2004

Immune boost 'widens cancer fight'
Scientists may have found a way to harness the immune system and strike at hidden tumours throughout the body. Animal tests suggest that a treatment given to just one tumour produces an immune response that targets secondary growths in other places
Read article at BBCNews.com

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