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Health Highlights: March 15, 2013

Marine Base Had Tainted Water for up to 60 Years: Report Quick Treatment Can 'Functionally Cure' Some HIV Patients: Study FDA Probing Reports of Pancreas Problems Caused by Diabetes Drugs

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

Marine Base Had Tainted Water for up to 60 Years: Report

Cancer-causing solvents were present in drinking water at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina for as long as 60 years, according to a federal government report.

It said some wells that supplied water to the base may have been tainted with trichloroethylene (TCE) from 1948 through 2008, and that some were contaminated with benzene from 1951 to 2008, NBC News reported.

Marines say they and their families have suffered cancers caused by the tainted water, which was contaminated by fuel leaks and probably from a dry-cleaning plant as well.

The new report indicates that base personnel and their families were exposed to the contaminated water for longer than previously believed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to the tainted water between 1953 and 1987, when the last of the contaminated wells were closed, NBC News reported.


Quick Treatment Can 'Functionally Cure' Some HIV Patients: Study

Immediate treatment may "functionally cure" about 10 percent of people with early-stage HIV infection, according to a new study.

Researchers in France looked at 14 people who started treatment within 10 weeks of being infected with HIV. They took antiretroviral drugs for an average of three years and then stopped taking the medications, but have since shown no signs of HIV resurgence, BBC News reported.

"They still have HIV, it is not eradication of HIV, it is a kind of remission of the infection," explained Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion, from the Institute Pasteur in Paris.

He said 5 to 15 percent of HIV patients who start treatment early may be functionally cured, which means they no longer require drugs, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Recently, U.S. doctors reported that an HIV-infected baby girl was effectively cured after very early treatment.


FDA Probing Reports of Pancreas Problems Caused by Diabetes Drugs

Reports that a group of new diabetes drugs may increase the risk of pancreas problems are being investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA says unpublished results from a group of researchers show that samples of pancreas tissue taken from a small number of patients taking the drugs showed signs of inflammation and of cellular changes that often precede cancer, the Associated Press reported.

The agency said it is seeking more information and has not reached any conclusions. Patients should continue taking the medications until they consult with their doctor, officials advised.

The medicines under review mimic a natural hormone that the body produces to break down sugar after a meal. The drugs include Amylin's Byetta, Merck's Januvia, Novo Nordisk's Victoza, among others, the AP reported.

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