Today's Health Highlights: Nov. 11, 2001
More Anthrax Found in Legislators' Offices Report: Ex-Beatle Treated for Brain Cancer Love is the Drug Baby Teeth From Cold War Study Turn Up
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of The HealthDay Service:
Anthrax Traces Found in 4 More Lawmakers' Offices
Investigators have found traces of anthrax in four more federal lawmakers' offices in Washington, D.C., but the amounts are so small they don't pose a health threat, officials said.
The anthrax was detected in the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in the Hart Senate Office Building, and the office of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., in the Longworth House Office Building, officials said today. However, both buildings had previous cases of anthrax contamination, and officials believe the source of the newly detected anthrax was probably cross-contamination from the germ-laden letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., last month,, according to ABC News.
"By all indications, this is a cross-contamination issue" in which other mail likely came in contact with the original Daschle letter, Capitol Hill Police Lt. Dan Nichols said in a news conference yesterday.
"The new discoveries are not unexpected," said the Capitol's attending physician, Dr. John Eisold. "We have always been concerned about mail that has been contaminated by other mail."
Meanwhile, the FBI has released a psychological profile of the terrorist who mailed anthrax-laced letters. He's probably somewhat of a loner with scientific ability who "lacks the personal skills necessary to confront others" face to face, the FBI said, according to the Associated Press.
The culprit "did not select his victims randomly," the FBI said in a three-page, carefully worded assessment issued more than one month after the disease first surfaced. He "may hold grudges for a long time, vowing that he will get even with 'them,' one day," the AP reported.
The FBI issued the profile after Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge expressed hope that the anthrax attacks were on the wane. But he acknowledged that investigators were "still no closer to identifying specifically the origin of the anthrax or the perpetrators."
The anthrax-by-mail bioterrorism attacks have killed four people and sickened 13, the AP said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
Three tainted letters have been found so far, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Daschle, NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and The New York Post. The FBI said that a fourth letter may have been addressed to a Florida tabloid publishing company where two men became ill from anthrax and one died. Officials acknowledge there may be other deadly letters that have not been discovered, or are buried in mountains of mail set aside since the outbreak of the disease, the AP said.
No new anthrax cases have been reported for more than a week, and Ridge, asked at a White House news conference whether the initial threat had been shut down, expressed hope that that was the case. "We're prayerful, we're hopeful. We hope this is the last we ever'' have to deal with the issue, he said.
George Harrison Treated for Brain Cancer
Ex-Beatle George Harrison is undergoing radiation treatments for a brain tumor. But, experts say it won't stop the spread of cancer from his lungs, according to ABC News.
Harrison is receiving a treatment known as "fractionated radiation therapy" at New York City's Staten Island University Hospital. It's to treat the metastatic tumor in his brain that spread from his lung, ABC News said.
The therapy focuses high-dose beams of radiation directly at the tumor, to avoid as much healthy brain tissue as possible. The beam is also rotated around the body so it can attack the tumor from all directions, the network said.
The technique used at Staten Island is completely non-invasive, and in almost all cases is an outpatient procedure.
Tumor experts say the treatment isn't a cure for cancer, but can improve quality of life.
Earlier in the year, Harrison had a tumor removed from his lung in the United States, and more recently received radiation therapy in Switzerland for a brain tumor, ABC said.
Love is the Drug
The sight of a beautiful woman triggers a pleasure response in a man's brain similar to what a hungry person gets from eating or an addict gets from a drug, scientists say, the Associated Press reported yesterday.
Researchers said the study, published in the journal Neuron, shows that feminine beauty affects a man's brain at a very primal level, not on some higher, more intellectual plane.
"Beauty is working similar to a drug," said Dan Ariely of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, and a co-author of the study.
Researchers showed a group of heterosexual men in their mid-20s pictures of women of varying attractiveness, while measuring the brain's responses through computer imaging. The beautiful women were found to activate the same "reward circuits" as food and cocaine do, the AP said.
Baby Teeth From Cold War Study Turn Up
About 85,000 recently discovered baby teeth that were collected from 1959 to 1970 could help pinpoint whether fallout from Cold War nuclear bomb tests caused cancer and other health problems years later, researchers say, according to an Associated Press story.
The teeth from the St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey determined that children were absorbing radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests by the United States and the Soviet Union. The study received international attention and helped persuade the nation to adopt a 1963 treaty banning atmospheric bomb tests.
The teeth were found in May in hundreds of boxes in a school bunker where they'd been stored since the 1970s. They were in small envelopes fastened by rusty paper clips to cards that detailed each child who gave a tooth to science instead of the tooth fairy.
"We flipped out when we heard about the 85,000 teeth," Joseph Mangano, national coordinator with the independent, nonprofit Radiation and Public Health Project research group, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It was like an early Christmas present."
Researchers in New York are now hoping to find the owners of the teeth and determine whether they've experienced health problems, such as thyroid cancer, in the decades since.