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Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2007

China Bans Crude Population Control Slogans No Condom Talk Please, We're British Pakistan Destroyed Expired Flu Vaccine Donated by Illinois New Gene Targeting Aggressive Lung Cancer Tumors IdentifiedUK Bans Livestock Exports After Foot-and-Mouth Disease Found on Farm Green Beans Recalled for Botulism Risk

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

China Bans Crude Population Control Slogans

Crude and insensitive slogans used by rural Chinese officials to support the country's strict population control laws have been banned by China's top family planning bureau, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

Examples of outlawed slogans include: "One more baby means one more tomb," "Raise fewer babies and more piggies," and "Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected."

To replace these and other similar messages, Xinhua said the National Population and Family Planning Commission issued a list of 190 acceptable sayings, the Associated Press reported.

Among the kinder, gentler new slogans: "Mother earth is too tired to sustain more children" and "Both boys and girls are parents' hearts."

Under Chinese law, most urban couples are limited to one child, while some rural couples are allowed to have a second child if their firstborn is a girl, the AP reported.


No Condom Talk Please, We're British

A new survey suggests that about a third of Britons are so embarrassed about discussing condoms with a new sex partner that they don't use a condom at all.

But the Family Planning Association (FPA) poll of 2,169 adults also found that about a third of respondents also said they regretted not using a condom with a new sex partner in the past, BBC News reported.

"We have to ask why in the 21st Century when sex is so widely portrayed in British culture, talking about condoms is still embarrassing," said FPA chief executive Anne Weyman.

She noted that adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s seem to have an especially difficult time talking about condoms and need special targeting with safe sex campaigns, BBC News reported.

"Thirty-somethings are a forgotten generation. They received little sex and relationships education at school but grew up in an increasingly sexualized society," Weyman said. "They've had to find the confidence themselves to talk about condoms and learn the hard way."

Sexually transmitted disease rates are on the rise in England. For example, in 2006, cases of genital herpes increased by 9 percent and chlamydia cases increased by 4 percent, BBC News reported.


Pakistan Destroyed Expired Flu Vaccine Donated by Illinois

Pakistan destroyed $2.6 million worth of outdated flu vaccine donated to the country by the state of Illinois, according to a story published Sunday in the The Chicago Tribune.

"After all, human beings are equal. They are not guinea pigs. And vaccines, if they are not good in one country, they should not be used in another country," said retired Lt. Gen. Farooq Ahmad Khan of Pakistan.

The newspaper said that Illinois ordered the vaccine from European suppliers in 2004, the Associated Press reported. But federal officials said the vaccine was not approved and refused to allow it into the United States. The vaccine was then offered to Pakistan, which destroyed it in November 2006.

Pakistani officials said they didn't know the vaccine was past its expiry date when they accepted it.


New Gene That Targeting Aggressive Lung Cancer Tumors Identified

There are relatively few genes in the body that can spot growths leading to cancer. Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School announced Sunday that they have discovered a powerful, tumor-suppressing gene, which they call LKB1.

The research, published Aug. 5 in the online edition of the journal Nature, found that LKB1 is a mutation in almost one quarter of all lung cancers. And experiments with laboratory mice indicate that this type of lung cancer causes tumors that are more aggressive and more likely to spread throughout the body.

"Defects in this gene appear to result in a much nastier form of lung cancer, a disease that is bad to begin with," said senior author Dr. Norman Sharpless, assistant professor of medicine and genetics at the UNC School of Medicine, in a university news release.

Identifying the gene can now give physicians a better chance of giving a better prognosis and targeting a more precise therapy for lung cancer patients.

"Based on this study and ones like it, we should be able to sort patients into groups based on exactly what genetic lesion is causing their cancer," said UNC assistant professor of medicine Dr. Neil Hayes, co-author of the study, in the news release. "Then we can make better treatment decisions depending on which therapy is most likely to target that defect."


U.K. Bans Livestock Exports After Foot-and-Mouth Disease Found on Farm

As it did in 2001, Great Britain banned the export of all livestock Saturday after discovering an outbreak of highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease on a farm southwest of London.

But by Sunday, the Associated Press reports, U.K. health officials were hopeful that the strain of the disease they found may not have spread beyond the farm, because it was identical to one at a nearby research laboratory.

Because that strain hadn't been found in live animals recently, officials were investigating that it was confined to the farm. "This is a promising lead, but we do not know for sure," the wire service quotes Environment Secretary Hilary Benn as saying during a BBC interview.

The United States immediately ordered a halt to imports of British pork, the AP reports. British beef is already banned in the U.S. because of the possibility of mad cow disease.

Foot-and-mouth disease spreads quickly among cloven-hoofed animals and is usually fatal, but is not dangerous to humans. It is spread either by contact between animals or through the wind.


Green Beans Recalled for Botulism Risk

Because of the possibility of botulism contamination, consumers should not eat certain brands of French cut green beans in 14.5-ounce cans made by Lakeside Foods Inc., of Manitowoc, Wis., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

The agency said the canned beans may have not been processed adequately to eliminate the potential for botulism toxin, which can cause life-threatening illness. Symptoms of botulism -- such as double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness -- can begin from six hours to two weeks after eating food that contains botulism toxin.

There have been no reported cases of illness linked to the green beans, the FDA said. The beans were sold under a number of labels, including: Albertson's, Happy Harvest, Best Choice, Food Club, Bogopa, Valu Time, Hill Country Fare, HEB, Laura Lynn, Kroger, No Name, North Pride, Shop N Save, Shoppers Valu, Schnucks, Cub Foods, Dierbergs, Flavorite, IGA, Best Choice, and Thrifty Maid.

The products were distributed in portions of Canada and in the following 20 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Specific codes involved in the recall are: EAA5247, EAA5257, EAA5267, EAA5277, EAB5247, EAB5257, ECA5207, ECA5217, ECA5227, ECA5297, ECB5207, ECB5217, ECB5227, and ECB5307.

These products or any foods made with these products should be thrown out immediately, the FDA said. For more information, contact Lakeside Foods at 1-800-466-3834, ext. 4090.

This recall is not related to an earlier botulism-related recall of more than 90 products including canned chili, stew, hash, and pet food products made by Castleberry's Food Co.


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