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

Alzheimer's Rates May Triple By 2050

With more people expected to live beyond age 85 than ever, experts are predicting that the numbers of Americans with Alzheimer's disease could triple to 16 million by the year 2050, reports the Associated Press.

In a report presented today at an international Alzheimer's conference in Stockholm, Sweden, researchers said the estimates have increased over previous projections due to greater increases in the elderly population than anticipated.

The new estimate, offered by researchers in Chicago and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on information from the 2000 Census. The figure of 16 million is a high-end estimate -- the researchers also gave a low-end estimate of about 11 million.

About 4.6 million Americans currently suffer from the memory-deteriorating disease.


Bad News on HRT Already Has Lawyers in Motion

The ink has hardly dried on the recent media stories about potential health problems from hormone replacement therapy and lawsuits over the drug in question -- Prempro -- are already in motion.

At least two law firms have started the class action suits' wheels turning by filing complaints seeking a judge's certification for suits against Prempro maker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, reports USA Today.

In addition, the firms have reportedly revised their web sites to attract women who believe Prempro may have caused them health problems.

Researchers had announced that a government study of Prempro was being halted three years early due to links found between the combination estrogen-progestin drug and problems ranging from breast cancer and heart attacks to stroke and blood clots.


WHO Drafts Global Anti-Tobacco Advertising Proposal

After two years of trying to come to agreement, World Health Organization negotiators have drawn up a draft of an international treaty that would phase in bans on cigarette advertising and sports sponsorships by tobacco companies, reports the Washington Post.

Among the proposals in the 22-page treaty are that advertising and sponsorship promotions in the sports world -- especially soccer and auto racing -- be gradually eliminated, and that eventual bans on the sale of duty-free tobacco be put in place.

The United Nations agency is working on a May 2003 deadline to come up with a global policy on tobacco control. The next meeting of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is scheduled for October. Once the treaty is adopted, it will go into effect upon being ratified by 30 governments.


Brain Region Linked to Dyslexia

The reading problem dyslexia is linked to a part of the brain called the occipito-temporal region located just behind the left ear, Yale University scientists say.

Researcher Sally Shaywitz and colleagues analyzed brain scans of 70 dyslexic and 74 non-dyslexic children ages 7 to 18. By including children that young, Shaywitz reports in the July 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry, it demonstrates that dyslexia could be present as early as a child begins to read.

Although magnetic resonance imaging can't be used to diagnose dyslexia, the researchers used the scanning technique to measure brain activity during specific tasks. Children with dyslexia showed less-than-normal activity in the occipito-temporal region.

Older dyslexc children showed more activity than normal in a different brain region, suggesting that over time, the brain was working hard to compensate for the deficient region, reports the Associated Press.


U.S. Reverses Gears on Family Planning Funding

The Bush Administration has reversed gears, saying it will not pay $34 million it had earmarked for United Nations' family planning programs, reports the Associated Press. Conservative groups -- many of which strongly supported President Bush in his run for the presidency -- say the U.N. programs promote abortion and, in some cases, forced sterilization.

An announcement on the decision, which sources tell the AP is final, is expected this week.

The money had been destined for the U.N. Population Fund, which helps developing nations with issues of reproductive and sexual health and family planning.

Last year, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate committee that the agency does "invaluable work" and "provides critical population assistance to developing countries," according to the AP.


Child Cooler/Seats Recalled

Hilton Hotels Corp. is recalling 27,000 "Vacation Station" child cooler/chairs, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. The product, a combination food/beverage cooler and child seat, can collapse unexpectedly.

Hilton is aware of one report in which part of a 2-year-old boy's fingertip was severed after the chair collapsed. The product was given to hotel guests as a welcoming gift at participating hotels including Hilton, Doubletree and Hilton Garden Inns. The chairs have either a purple aluminum frame with a purple fabric seat and green cooler bag, or a green aluminum frame with a green fabric seat and a blue cooler bag. "Vacation Station" is printed on the front of the bag.

The hotels and resorts nationwide distributed the cooler/chairs between May 2002 and June 2002 for free to hotel guests with children.

Consumers should stop using the recalled cooler/chairs immediately and contact Hilton Hotels for information on returning the product and receiving a free replacement item. Call Hilton toll-free at 1-877-221-2424 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday. Or visit its Web site at

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