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

Vegas Trauma Center Closes Amid Liability Insurance Protest

The mass resignation of doctors to protest the rising cost of malpractice insurance rates and lawsuits has forced the closure of Las Vegas' only trauma center, The Washington Post reports.

The closing of the University of Nevada Medical Center's trauma unit leaves millions of residents in the Las Vegas area without access to the only Level 1 trauma center just as rumored Fourth of July terrorism threats rattle the region.

The closure comes as emergency rooms around the nation are being forced to close because doctors cannot afford the insurance to protect them from lawsuits in high-risk, front-line practice, the article says.

The trauma center surgeons are calling for the Nevada legislature to pass reforms similar to laws in California that limit attorney fees and jury awards to patients for pain and suffering.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said patients will still be able to receive care in other emergency rooms around the city, where surgeons will be present or on call.


Free Prozac Sample Mailings Prompt Lawsuit, Questions

The unsolicited mailing of free samples of a once-a-week form of the antidepressant drug Prozac to patients who had sought treatment for depression has some recipients up in arms and Prozac's maker looking for an explanation.

The Florida mailings were brought to light when one recipient filed an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against her doctors, her pharmacy and Eli Lilly & Co., which makes the drug, reports the Associated Press.

The free sample was reportedly mailed with a form letter signed by doctors at Broward County's Holy Cross Medical Group, where the woman receives treatment. The woman was not taking Prozac. Eli Lilly apologized for the incident and says it is investigating the mailing.

Medical experts say the mailings set a dangerous precedent, both in terms of safety and privacy. The Food and Drug Administration says it is monitoring the incident.


Fishermen Should Let 'The Big One' Go

If your fishing fortune leads you to catch "the big one," you'll be doing the species a favor by throwing it back.

That's the conclusion of a new study indicating that when bigger fish are allowed to live, the species may eventually double in size and number, reports the Associated Press.

The study, published in the journal Science, counters traditional thinking, which dictates keeping the big fish and throwing back the little ones.

But researchers with Stony Brook University in New York say their experiments suggest that if only small fish are allowed to survive, their genetics will evolve to favor small sizes, and the species will get smaller in succeeding generations.


Possible Genetic Ties to Schizophrenia Uncovered

Two groups of researchers, working independently, say they may be getting closer to identifying genes linked to schizophrenia, the nightmarish mental illness that afflicts two million Americans.

The first group, consisting of scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University and two institutes in Ireland, says it has uncovered evidence that a gene dubbed dysbindin, located on the sixth of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes, may be a possible cause of the disease, The New York Times reports today.

The second team -- scientists with Iceland-based Decode Genetics -- says it has discovered a gene called neuregulin-1, located on chromosome eight. Genetic mutations in that gene are "highly correlated" with schizophrenia in approximately 15 percent of Icelanders with the disease, the newspaper says.

The discovery of genes tied to schizophrenia could lead to new treatments for the disabling condition.

The two groups' reports are to be published in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The journal placed the Virginia Commonwealth University findings online yesterday, according to The Times.


Conceiving Can Take At Least One Year: Study

For couples who are frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant, researchers offer the following advice: give it at least a year.

In research presented at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria, doctors say that unless there are obvious health problems that may be preventing conception, couples should wait at least a year before seeing a fertility specialist because the chances are good they'll be successful the following year, reports the Associated Press.

The researchers say too many couples are rushing to fertility clinics looking for treatments after just a few months of trying.

In looking at 782 couples from seven European cities, the researchers say they found that regardless of age, the majority of healthy couples do achieve pregnancy by the end of their second year of trying.


U.N. Warns of Growing Global AIDS Epidemic

Potent and effective drugs have managed to bring the urgency of AIDS down a notch in the United States, but the United Nations warns that the global epidemic has exceeded all expectations and could be on the brink of a massive expansion.

In a report released Tuesday, the U.N. cautions that even though the AIDS virus has infected up to a third of young adults in many African cities, the disease continues to increase there.

And unless actions are taken, the AIDS epidemic in places like China, India and Indonesia could far exceed current proportions, reports The Washington Post.

The report reflects findings from dozens of studies conducted in various countries on AIDS issues. It estimates that 68 million people around the world will die of AIDS in the next 20 years if action isn't taken.

The disease claimed the lives of about 3 million people last year and the total death toll since the disease was discovered in 1981 is more than 20 million.


DEET Deemed Best at Repelling Pests

Want to keep mosquitoes away this holiday weekend? Then there really is no substitute: Despite its infamously offensive odor, DEET works best, and it's perfectly safe when used judiciously, reports HealthDay.

A new comparison of 16 products that boast bug-banishing properties, from citronella oil to a soy-based brand, finds those with DEET typically last longest and give the most protection against bites.

Only the soy oil formulation came close to the synthetic chemical, which the researchers say has an undeserved reputation for being harmful to people. Citronella, spiked cosmetics and wrist bands fail to fend off mosquitoes for very long, if at all. The findings appear in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"For complete protection for any significant duration of time, only the DEET-based products give you that benefit," said Dr. Mark Fradin, a dermatologist and lead author of the study.

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