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Today's Health Highlights: Sep. 24, 2001

3 West Nile Cases in Pennsylvania

Three Pennsylvania residents are the first in the state to come down with West Nile virus, health officials report. Final confirmation of the diagnoses isn't due until this week, but preliminary tests are almost always accurate, according to a wire service report.

None of the cases is life-threatening, state health officials say.

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Drowning in 'Stuff'

Old women who are poor, live alone and have never married tend to pile their houses so deep in clutter that some can't even get to their bathtubs, a new study says.

The researchers aren't sure whether the same holds true for men, says study co-author Gail Steketee, a psychologist with Boston University's School of Social Work. Women live longer, meaning there are fewer older men to study; nearly 75 percent of the people available for the study were women. The findings appear in the August issue of Health and Social Work, HealthDay reports.

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Dengue Fever Reported in Hawaii

The first cases of Dengue fever in 50 years have been confirmed in Hawaii, in a remote, rainforest area on the island of Maui, according to news service reports.

Twenty other suspected cases on the island have yet to be confirmed. They are the latest of more than 400 cases this year on Pacific islands, including Tahiti and American Samoa, the reports say.

Though rarely fatal, Dengue fever produces fever, headache and rashes on the palms and feet.

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HRT Doesn't Cause Breast Cancer Deaths

While hormone replacement therapy increases women's chances of developing breast cancer, it doesn't increase their chances of dying from the disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from University Hospital South Manchester in Great Britain reported the results of their 1991-97 study of 589 women at a recent international breast cancer conference in London, according to a news service report.

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Few Private Docs Dispensing 'Abortion Pill'

One year after the controversial "abortion pill" known as RU-486 won U.S. government approval, only 6 percent of gynecologists in private practice have dispensed it to patients, according to a just-released survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Of the 595 gynecologists surveyed, 40 percent said they didn't offer the pill because they are opposed to abortion. And many of the other physicians said their patients hadn't asked for it, according to a news service report.

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Lifestyle Changes Can Thwart Diabetes

New research says a healthful diet and some moderate exercise can head off many cases of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the potentially devastating disease, according to news service reports.

"There is no question that diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and can be prevented by lifestyle modifications,'' says Dr. Frank B. Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health. He is lead author of a study that appears in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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