Health Highlights: May 6, 2003

Runners Shouldn't Drink Too Much Water S. African Children Get HIV From Dirty Medical Needles Florida Doctors Protest Malpractice Costs U.K. Researchers Identify Colon Cancer Gene Abused Children More Likely to Become Adult Criminals Chicken Salad Recalled for Listeria Contamination

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

Runners Shouldn't Drink Too Much Water

It's the fitness world equivalent of Niagara Falls reversing its flow.

In a major revision of its guidelines, USA Track & Field says endurance athletes who drink too much water during long events may risk respiratory failure, seizures or even death, The New York Times reports.

For years, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have been bombarded with the message that they must drink, drink, drink in order to excel and prevent possible serious health consequences caused by dehydration.

Athletes were told not to wait until they were thirsty to drink. By then, it could be too late to regain proper body hydration.

But the new USA Track & Field guidelines recommend that runners shouldn't drink as much as they can during a race. They should drink only when they're thirsty.

Water gorging can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, where blood is so diluted by water that sodium levels plummet, the Times reports.

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S. African Children Get HIV From Dirty Medical Needles

Hundreds of thousands of South African children have been infected with HIV through dirty medical needles, German researchers say.

In a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the researchers said that the rapid rates of HIV infection in South Africa are being fueled by non-sterile injections during medical visits, BBC News Online reports.

They said urgent action is required to enhance standards in South African clinics, and patients have to be educated about the dangers of non-sterile injections.

This is the latest research that identifies contaminated needles as a major cause of HIV infection in Africa. Some studies suggest that injections are linked to as many as 40 percent of HIV infections in Africa, BBC News Online says.

But United Nations agencies don't agree, and say most HIV infections in Africa result from unsafe sex.

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Florida Doctors Protest Malpractice Costs

About 100 of Jacksonville, Fla.'s 1,500 doctors refused to work Tuesday, as a protest against the state's refusal to cap jury awards in medical malpractice cases.

The walkout by the doctors, many of them specialists and surgeons, forced some hospitals to delay elective surgeries and to tell some people walking into emergency rooms to get medical help elsewhere, the Associated Press reports.

The doctors are upset that the state Legislature refused to approve a $250,000 cap on punitive damages in malpractice cases. The doctors say a cap would help control skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates.

The Florida protest is the latest by doctors in a number of states. The American Medical Association says Florida and 17 other states are facing a medical liability crisis.

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U.K. Researchers Identify Colon Cancer Gene

British scientists say they've discovered a gene that's a primary contributor to colorectal cancer but whose destruction wouldn't harm healthy cells, reports BBC News Online.

Researchers at Edinburgh and Cardiff universities identified the connection between the disease and the gene, MBD2, after a five-year study on mice. They say the finding could lead to treatments that attack cancer cells without destroying healthy tissue. Existing methods of fighting the aggressive cells that form tumors wind up destroying essential blood and skin cells.

Such a treatment to destroy or counteract the gene without harming healthy cells could be at least 10 years away, they caution.

Each year, about 155,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 50,000 die. Behind lung cancer, it's the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

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Abused Children More Likely to Become Criminals

Abused or neglected kids are 29 percent more likely to become adult criminals than are average children, new research finds.

The report by an organization called "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" recommends that the U.S. Congress provide more money for pre-kindergarten programs and parenting classes. According to the affiliation of police chiefs, prosecutors and crime victims, the money would be wisely spent, since more well-adjusted kids would turn into upstanding citizens as adults.

Citing statistics from a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the group says that 36,000 of 900,000 abused and neglected children analyzed in the report are likely to become violent criminals when they reach adulthood, including 250 who will become murderers, reports the Associated Press.

At highest risk are children from families on welfare or those whose parents are high school dropouts, the report concludes.

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Chicken Salad Recalled for Listeria Contamination

Blue Ridge Farms is recalling 400 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says. There have been no reports of illness.

The 5-pound tubs of "Blue Ridge Farms Made Fresh Daily Cajun Chicken Salad," include bar codes of "38419096130" and are marked "USE BY 05/28/03." Each tub also bears the establishment code "P-21279" inside the USDA seal of inspection.

The chicken salad was produced April 29 and distributed to retail stores in Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas. The product should be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions can contact David Monk, Blue Ridge Farms' vice president of sales, at 1-708-748-4405.

Scott RobertsRobert Preidt

Scott RobertsRobert Preidt

Published on May 06, 2003

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