Health Highlights: May 17, 2012
Cancer Claims Life of Disco Queen Donna Summer Woman With Flesh-Eating Disease Views Damaged Hands Healthy Food Cheaper than Unhealthy Food: Study More U.S. Doctors Use E-Prescribing California TB Patient Arrested for Not Taking Medication HDL 'Good' Cholesterol Not Protective Against Heart Disease: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Cancer Claims Life of Disco Queen Donna Summer
Disco diva Donna Summer has died of cancer at age 63, her publicist Brian Edwards announced Thursday.
Summer's career peaked in the mid- to late 1970s with a string of dance hits including "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls" and "Love to Love You Baby." Her career dipped somewhat during the anti-disco backlash of the early 1980s, but she had another huge hit in 1983 with "She Works Hard for the Money," CNN reported.
"I don't like to be categorized because I think that I am an instrument, and if you play me I'll make whatever particular sound is supposed to come out for that color," Summer told CNN in a 2008 interview.
Woman With Flesh-Eating Disease Views Damaged Hands
There have been no tears as the 24-year-old Georgia woman with a rare flesh-eating infection inspects her badly damaged hands and asks questions about them, according to her father.
Andy Copeland told the Associated Press that he and other family members told Aimee Copeland that "your hands have been damaged ... and we're trying to bring back as much of the life into the hands as possible."
"She was well accepting. No tears or anything," Andy Copeland said.
However, his daughter doesn't know that doctors plan to amputate all of her fingers and it's not clear if she's aware that her left leg was amputated, the AP reported.
Aimee Copeland remains in critical condition with the flesh-eating infection she contracted after she suffered a gash in her left leg in a zip-lining accident.
Healthy Food Cheaper than Unhealthy Food: Study
Most fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods cost less than foods laden with sugar, salt and fat, according to a U.S. Agriculture Department study that challenges the common perception that unhealthy food is cheaper than nutritious food.
It all depends on how price is measured, according to the study authors. Looking at price per calorie may make unhealthy foods appear cheaper, but healthy foods are cheaper if cost is compared by weight or portion size, the Associated Press reported.
Using the second method shows that foods such as bananas, carrots, lettuce and pinto beans are less expensive per portion than foods such as ground beef, french fries, soft drinks and ice cream.
"Using price per calorie doesn't tell you how much food you're going to get or how full you are going to feel," said Andrea Carlson, a study author and scientist at the USDA's Economic Research Service, the AP reported.
More U.S. Doctors Use E-Prescribing
The proportion of U.S. doctors using electronic prescriptions increased from 22 percent at the end of 2010 to 36 percent at the end of 2011, according to a new report from Surescripts, the largest network for paperless prescribing.
The analysis of 40 million written, phoned, faxed or electronic prescriptions also found a 10 percent increase in patients who fill a prescription when it's e-prescribed, the Associated Press reported.
The federal government has been pushing doctors to e-prescribe. This year, holdouts will begin seeing cuts in their Medicare payments.
E-prescriptions can be safer for patients. Pharmacists don't have to struggle with doctors' poor handwriting and computerized ordering systems make it easy for doctors to check that a newly-prescribed drug won't interact badly with one already being taken by a patient, the AP reported.
California TB Patient Arrested for Not Taking Medication
A California man with tuberculosis has been jailed for refusing to take medication to prevent his disease from becoming contagious.
Armando Rodriguez, 34, of Stockton has active pulmonary TB, which can include coughing up blood or phlegm that can spread through the air, according to health authorities, the Associated Press reported.
In a letter requesting a warrant for Rodriguez's arrest, San Joaquin County Nursing Director Ginger Wick said Rodriguez was not complying with his treatment and could become contagious as a result.
Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday. It's expected he will be arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor counts of refusing to comply with a TB order to be at home at certain times and make appointments to take his medication, the AP reported.
HDL 'Good' Cholesterol Not Protective Against Heart Disease: Study
So-called "good" HDL cholesterol may not be so good after all, a new study suggests.
It's been widely believed that increasing HDL levels in your blood could the lower your risk of heart disease. Currently, companies are developing and testing drugs that boost HDL levels, The New York Times reported.
But researchers who analyzed databases of genetic information found that raising HDL levels may not make any difference to heart disease risk. The study found that people with genes that give them naturally higher HDL levels had no less heart disease than those with genes that give them slightly lower HDL levels.
If HDL actually offered protection, people with genes that give them higher HDL levels should have less heart disease, said study leader Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, director of preventive cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and a geneticist at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, and colleagues.
The study was published online Wednesday in The Lancet.
"I'd say the HDL hypothesis is on the ropes right now," Dr. James A. de Lemos, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told The Times. He was not involved in the study.