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Health Highlights: June 2, 2008

Bottling Up Feelings May Help Some in Trauma Recovery Abbott Recalls Infant Formula Paralyzed Man Makes Virtual Character Walk Fetal Screening Tests Have Major Limitations: Study Millions of HIV/AIDS Patients Lack Access to Drugs Laparoscopic Prostate Surgery Not Always Best Choice: Report

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

Bottling Up Feelings May Help Some in Trauma Recovery

For some people, bottling up feelings about traumatic events may be better than letting it all out, suggests a University at Buffalo study that compared the progress of 3,000 people who used different approaches in the two years after the 9/11 attacks.

The participants -- none of whom lost a loved one or friend in the terrorist attacks -- completed online surveys in the days immediately after 9/11 and over the next two years. After that time, those who kept their feelings to themselves appeared to be in better psychological condition than those who talked about their feelings, BBC News reported.

"We should be telling people there is likely nothing wrong if they do not want to express their thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma. In fact, they can cope quite successfully and, according to our results, are likely to be better off than someone who does want to express his or her feelings," said study leader Dr. Mark Seery.

The study appears in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

It's important not to generalize about the "right" approach for all patients, Professor Stephen Joseph, a U.K. specialist in post-disaster trauma, told BBC News. He noted that other studies have found that talking about traumatic experiences in combination with counseling was the correct path to recovery for many people.


Abbott Recalls Infant Formula

Abbott has announced an international recall of certain lots of infant formula because air may have entered the cans, resulting in oxidation. Consumption of highly oxidized foods can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The recall covers two lots of Calcilo XD Low-Calcium/Vitamin D-Free Infant Formula with Iron powder in 14.1-ounce (400g) cans. The cans have stock number 00378 and lot numbers 39973RB or 47239RB6 printed on the bottom.

The lots were distributed in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Korea and Bahrain between June 6, 2006 and April 17, 2008. No other Calcilo XD powdered infant formulas are affected, the FDA said.

Consumers who bough the recalled formula should contact Abbott Nutrition at 1-800-638-6493.


Paralyzed Man Makes Virtual Character Walk

Using only his brain waves, a paralyzed man was able to manipulate a virtual Internet character to walk on the popular Second Life Web site.

Researchers at Keio University in Japan called it a world first and said this kind of activity could help motivate patients with severe paralysis, who are often too depressed to undergo rehabilitation therapy, Agence France-Presse reported.

The 41-year-old man has suffered paralysis for more than 30 years and can barely bend his fingers, making it impossible for him to use a mouse or keyboard.

For this study, he wore a head device with three electrodes that monitored brain waves related to his hands and legs. Using his thoughts, he was able to make his virtual character walk and had a conversation with another character using an attached microphone, AFP reported.


Fetal Screenings Have Major Limitations: Study

Current fetal screening tests detect only about half of potential chromosomal abnormalities, and women need to be given more information about test limitations and risks such as miscarriage, say Italian researchers.

They analyzed the findings of more than 100,000 prenatal diagnoses that involved invasive tests such as amniocentesis (in which a needle is used to take a sample of fluid from the womb) and found the tests identified only half of chromosomal abnormalities, BBC News reported.

The study was presented at a European Society of Human Genetics conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Researcher Dr. Francesca Grati, of the TOMA Laboratory in Busto Arsizio, said it's "fundamental" that doctors inform patients about the limitations of current fetal screening methods and potential risks so that patients can make an informed choice. For example, about one in 100 women who have amniocentesis will suffer a miscarriage.


Millions of HIV/AIDS Patients Don't Have Access to Drugs

Only 31 percent of people with HIV/AIDs in low- and middle-income countries had access to antiretroviral drugs in 2007, which means that millions aren't receiving the potentially lifesaving treatment, says a new report from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and UNICEF.

In 2007, about 950,000 more people received antiretroviral therapy (ART) than in 2006, but the agencies said they're two years behind their target. They aimed to have three million people on ART by the end of 2005, but, by the end of 2007, they were just short of that goal. That means that about 6.7 million people aren't receiving ART, BBC News reported.

There was significant progress made in certain areas. For example, the number of HIV-infected pregnant women who received ART increased from 350,000 in 2006 to 500,000 in 2007. The treatment prevents the women from passing HIV to their children.

There also were significant improvements in the availability of HIV testing and counseling services, and male circumcision (which reduces the risk of HIV transmission during sex) is now more effectively promoted in regions of sub-Saharan Africa heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, BBC News reported.

At the end of 2007, about 33.2 million people worldwide were living with HIV, including 2.5 million who were newly infected that year, said the WHO document.


Laparoscopic Prostate Surgery Not Always Best Choice: Report

Minimally invasive surgery on prostate cancer patients has mixed results, a new study suggests.

The New York Times reports that a study examining the results of laparoscopic prostate cancer surgery on a sample of 2,702 patients who had undergone the procedure to remove a malignant prostate gland found that there was a 27 percent lower risk of complications immediately after surgery and a shorter hospital stay by an average of almost three days.

But the Times adds, the study also found that laparoscopy patients had a 40 percent greater chance of scarring, which could require additional surgery. And more than 25 percent of the patients also needed hormonal drug treatment within six months, more than double those who had conventional surgery.

The study was published in the May 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology,

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