Health Highlights: Jan. 3, 2012
France Promises Breast Implant Investigation Chinese Man Dies of H5N1 Bird Flu Genetic Changes Occurred in Early African-Americans: Study Questions Raised About Anorexia Nervosa Treatment ADHD Pill Shortages May Continue
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
France Promises Breast Implant Investigation
A French official has promised an investigation into the failure to detect the use of substandard silicone gel in French-made breast implants believed to be in 300,000 to 400,000 women in 65 countries.
"All the elements now suggest that the gel was truly contaminated," French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand told France 2 television, Agence France-Presse reported.
"How was this not detected by checks?" he said. "I have asked for investigations at the Directorate General of Health and (health safety agency) AFSSAPS to know what happened, how these checks were done."
The breast implants were made by Poly Implante Prothese PIP. A supplier has confirmed that it supplied PIP with non-standard, industrial-grade silicone believed to have been used in the implants in effort to cut costs, AFP reported.
France and several other countries have advised women to have the implants removed.
Chinese Man Dies of H5N1 Bird Flu
Chinese health officials are telling people to remain calm after a man infected with H5N1 bird flu died on the weekend.
It's the first reported human case of the disease in China in 18 months, Agence France-Presse reported.
The 39-year-old bus driver became ill in late December. He contracted H5N1 from poultry but it hasn't been determined where he acquired the virus, said health officials in Shenzhen.
The city is close to Hong Kong, where thousands of chickens have been culled after three birds tested positive for the H5N1 virus in mid-December, AFP reported.
Genetic Changes Occurred in Early African-Americans: Study
Scientists studying the genomes of black Americans say they've found evidence that genetic changes occurred after African slaves were brought to the United States.
It's believed that these changes occurred as black Americans' ancestors adapted to the new environment, The New York Times reported.
Certain gene variants became more common while others became less common, according to the study in the journal Genome Research. The researchers said these genetic changes are associated with a higher risk of hypertension, prostate cancer, sclerosis and bladder cancer among black Americans.
"Most of the genes associated with African-American ethnic diseases may have played an important role in African-Americans' adaptation to local environment," wrote Li Jin, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and colleagues.
The researchers are still trying to determine what benefits these genetic changes may have provided, the Times reported.
Questions Raised About Anorexia Nervosa Treatment
Some health providers and researchers are voicing concerns about a widely-used strategy for treating teens hospitalized with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.
The "start low, advance slow" strategy advocates providing fewer calories than needed at first because patients may be so weak that major changes in diet could be dangerous, The New York Times reported.
When this approach is used, patients often experience further weight or fluid loss during the first day or two that they're hospitalized. Critics of this strategy say patients could be fed more aggressively as long as they're closely monitored for medical complications.
"There is a body of evidence that our older, more cautious feeding strategies are older and more cautious than they need to be," Dr. David S. Rosen, a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, who leads the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence, told the Times.
However, he and other doctors say further research is needed and urge caution before making any major changes in the treatment of teens with anorexia nervosa.
ADHD Pill Shortages May Continue
Shortages of drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may continue, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The agency receives hundreds of complaints each day from patients who say they can't find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions, The New York Times reported.
The pills have now been included on the FDA's official shortages list. Cheaper generic versions of brand name drugs are in particularly short supply.
The FDA blames the shortages on overly strict manufacturing quotas established by the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to minimize cases of abuse, many involving college students who use the ADHD medications to get high or stay up all night, the Times reported.
The DEA questions whether there really are shortages or whether drug companies simply decide to make more of the expensive brand name pills than the generics, resulting in supply and demand imbalances.