By HealthDay News HealthDay Reporter

Updated on June 12, 2022

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

1.1 Million U.S. Youth Get High on Inhalants: Report

In 2005, about 1.1 million American adolescents (ages 12 to 17) used common household inhalants to get high -- a dangerous and potentially deadly activity, according to a report released Thursday by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The inhalants used to get high include glue, aerosol air fresheners, hair sprays, nail polish, paint solvents, shoe polish, degreasers, gasoline and lighter fluids.

Almost five percent of adolescent girls used inhalants to get high in 2005, an increase from 4.1 percent in 2002, the report found. About 4.2 percent of adolescent males used inhalants in 2005, about the same percentage as in 2002.

About 605,000 young people (337,000 girls and 268,000 boys) started using inhalants in 2005. That's an increase from 2002, when 591,000 adolescents (285,000 girls and 306,000 boys) started using inhalants to get high.

"We are urging parents to talk to their children about inhalants and take notice when suddenly their children have bad breath, face rash, and stained clothing," Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said in a prepared statement.

Misuse of inhalants can cause numerous health problems -- such as brain damage, organ failure, cardiac arrest, convulsions, deafness, impaired vision -- and death.

The report was released at a press conference to mark the 15th National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, March 18 to 25.

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Sense of Humor May Mean Longer Life

Adults who can laugh at life's ups and downs may live longer than those who have trouble cracking a smile, concludes a Norwegian study of about 54,000 people tracked for seven years.

At the start of the study, participants filled out questionnaires on how easily they found humor in everyday life and how important they felt it was to have a humorous perspective, USA Today reported.

People who scored in the highest 25 percent of humor appreciation were 35 percent more likely to be alive at the end of seven years than those in the bottom quarter, the study found.

The survival advantage of having a humorous outlook was especially noticeable in a subgroup of 2,015 cancer patients. Those with a healthy sense of humor were about 70 percent less likely to die than those with a weak sense of humor, USA Today reported.

The study was presented at a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

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Frequent Binge Drinking Increasing Among U.S. College Students

Rates of frequent binge drinking and prescription drug abuse among U.S. college students are on the rise, along with consequences such as risky sexual behavior and arrests, a new report says.

The report, based largely on previously released research, found that the number of college students who drink (68 percent) or binge drink (40 percent) hasn't changed much since 1993, the Associated Press reported.

However, there have been major increases in the number of students who binge drink frequently (five drinks at a sitting, three or more times in two weeks); drink 10 or more times a month; and who get drunk three or more times a month, the report said.

It also found that since the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands more college students are abusing prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Ritalin and Adderall, and rates of daily marijuana use have more than doubled, to about four percent, the AP reported.

Based on an analysis of data, the report authors calculated that 23 percent of college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence. That's about triple the rate in the general population.

The report was released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

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Hormone Shrinks Lung Tumors

A hormone called angiotensin-(1-7) -- which regulates blood pressure -- shrinks lung tumors in mice, says a U.S. study in the journal Cancer Research.

Scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine injected mice with human cancer cells and found that those treated with angiotensin-(1-7) had their tumors shrink by about 30 percent during the 28-day experiment. In mice that received a saline solution, tumors more than doubled in size, Agence France Presse reported.

It's believed that the hormone reduces levels of an enzyme called COX-2, which is found at elevated levels in 70 percent to 90 percent of malignant lung tumors, the researchers said. COX-2 stimulates cell growth.

A small trial to test angiotensin-(1-7) in people with lung cancer is scheduled to begin next month at the university's Comprehensive Cancer Center, AFP reported.

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Poor Sex Lives Linked to Decline in Japan's Birth Rate

Stress from busy working lives may be one reason why many people in Japan have dismal sex lives, which is causing the country's birth rate to plunge, says a survey released this week by the Japan Family Planning Association.

The November 2006 survey of 636 men and 773 women, ages 16 to 49, found that 39.7 percent had not had sex for more than a month. That's an increase of five percentage points from a similar survey done two years ago, the Associated Press reported.

Among married couples, 34.6 percent said they hadn't had sex in more than a month.

The survey findings come at a time when there's great worry over Japan's birthrate, which hit a record low in 2005 of 1.26 births in an average woman's lifetime, the AP reported.

"The situation is dismal. My research shows that if you don't have sex for a month, you probably won't for a year," said Dr. Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association.

Busy working lives may be one reason for the lack of sex, he said. Another factor may be a loss of physical communication skills in a society that's increasingly Web-based, the AP reported.

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About a Third of U.S. Children Live With Smokers

About a third of American children age 18 or younger live with an adult smoker and are at increased risk for respiratory and other health problems, says the latest News and Numbers report released Wednesday by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The report, which looked at 2004 data, found that:

  • White children (34 percent) and black children (31 percent) were more likely than Hispanic children (24 percent) to live with an adult smoker.
  • Children in lower-income homes were nearly twice as likely to live with an adult who smokes than children in higher-income homes -- 40 percent vs. 22 percent.
  • Adult education levels affected children's risk of living with a smoker. About 40 percent of children in homes in which no adult had 13 or more years of education were exposed to secondhand smoke, compared with 25 percent of children in homes with an adult who had 13 or more years of education.
  • About 36 percent of children in the Midwest and 33 percent of children in the South lived with at least one adult smoker, compared with 28 percent of children in the Northeast and 25 percent of children in the West.
  • Children with asthma were as likely as children without asthma to live in homes with smokers.

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