Health Highlights: Nov. 15, 2008
Medical Panel Recommends $60 Million for Gulf War Illness Research Gardasil Protects Men Against Genital Warts: Study 10% of U.S. Hispanics Have Type 2 Diabetes Unhappy People Watch More TV: Study U.S. to Detain Milk Products From China
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Medical Panel Recommends $60 Million for Gulf War Illness Research
While the U.S. government is trying to handle the injuries and ailments suffered by thousands of Armed Services veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, an advisory panel is recommending millions of dollars for research into the illnesses suffered by as many as 210,000 soldiers who served in the 1991 Gulf War.
According to the Associated Press, Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake will get a report Monday from a medical advisory panel recommending an increase of funds for research into what has become known as Gulf War illness, from $5 million to $60 million.
Symptoms, which researchers say were recorded in much higher percentages among soldiers deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 than in those who did not go, include fatigue, loss of memory, unexplained pain throughout the body, headaches, and difficulty sleeping, the A.P. reports.
Possible reasons for these ailments include exposure to pesticides used for insect control and pyridostigmine bromide pills, which were protection against nerve agents. But more research is needed to substantiate the cause of Gulf war illness, the panel concluded.
Calling the need to find the cause and provide treatment to Gulf War veterans a "national obligation," the panel wrote: ""Substantial federal Gulf War research funding has been used for studies that have little or no relevance to the health of Gulf War veterans," the panel concluded, and stressed that the money had to be used for research into Gulf war Illness, the A.P. reports.
Gardasil Protects Men Against Genital Warts: Study
A new study says the anti-cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil also reduces men's risk of genital warts, which can lead to cancer of the penis and anus. Gardasil protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).
The 30-month study of 4,065 males, ages 16 to 26, found that those who received the vaccine were 90 percent less likely to develop genital warts. The findings were presented Friday at a meeting of the European Research Organization on Genital Infection and Neoplasia, Bloomberg news reported.
The study was funded by Merck & Co., which plans to use the results to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell Gardasil as a vaccine for males. Currently, it's only approved in the United States to protect women against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. Gardasil is approved for males in 40 countries.
HPV may be associated with about 1,500 cases of penile cancer and about 1,900 cases of anal cancer in men a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency also said men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer from HPV, Bloomberg reported.
10% of U.S. Hispanics Have Type 2 Diabetes
One in 10 Hispanics in the United States has type 2 diabetes. And one in three of those with diabetes doesn't know he or she has the disease, according to report released Friday by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.
The report, released on World Diabetes Day, also said Hispanics are nearly two times as likely as whites to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
"It is unacceptable that in today's health system we have the tools to help people prevent and treat diabetes yet complications like blindness and lower extremity amputations still occur," Jane L. Delgado, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, said in a news release.
"The Hispanic population is aging and without a renewed national commitment to prevention and treatment, the number of diabetes cases can be expected to increase," she added.
The group called for implementation of concerted long-term efforts to support the management and prevention of diabetes. It's also introducing new resources, including referrals to local health providers for diabetes screening and treatment, and a new Spanish and English brochure about diabetes.
Unhappy People Watch More TV: Study
Unhappy people watch much more television than happy people, say University of Maryland researchers. They analyzed data from nearly 30,000 American adults who took part in the General Social Survey from 1975 to 2006.
While unhappy people spent more time in front of the TV, happy people were more socially active, voted more, read more newspapers, and attended more religious services, United Press International reported.
The researchers also found that 51 percent of unhappy people were more likely to have unwanted extra time, compared with 19 percent of happy people. Unhappy people were also more likely (35 percent) than happy people (23 percent) to feel rushed for time.
The study was published in the journal Social Indicators Research.
TV watching consumes more than half of Americans' free time, likely because it requires little effort, the researchers said.
U.S. to Detain Milk Products From China
U.S. health officials said Thursday that any food products imported from China that contain milk will be detained at the border until tests prove they aren't contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
The Food and Drug Administration said it was taking the action because of concerns about Chinese food products contaminated with the toxic chemical. Since September, melamine-tainted milk has killed at least four babies in China and sickened tens of thousands of others.
Melamine has also been found in a range of products coming to the United States from China since September, including milk, eggs and fish feed. U.S. companies have recalled several imported products, including non-dairy creamers and a type of candy, which are primarily sold in Asian markets, The New York Times reported.
"We're taking this action because it's the right thing to do for the public health," Dr. Steven Solomon, an FDA deputy associate commissioner, said Thursday.
That means that Chinese products that contain milk or milk powder will be detained until the manufacturer or its customer has had the product tested and found it to be free of contamination, or they show documentation indicating that the product does not contain milk or milk-derived ingredients, the Times reported.
"The burden shifts to the importer," Solomon said, adding that the alert would primarily apply to specialty products sold in Asian markets.
It's believed that dairy suppliers in China add melamine to watered-down milk to make it appear rich in protein. The chemical can cause kidney stones and potentially fatal kidney failure.
While the FDA often halts the importation of individual food products, it rarely blocks an entire category of foods from one country. Last year, the FDA stopped the importation of five types of farm-raised seafood as well as vegetable protein from China because of contamination from unapproved animal drugs and food additives, the newspaper said.
Earlier this month, Chinese officials said they had uncovered more evidence that melamine was widespread in the nation's animal feed supplies. BBC News reported that the addition of melamine to animal feed in China was likely routine and an "open secret," according to reports published in several state-run newspapers in China.