Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Celebrity bad science: Dried placenta pills and oxygen
LONDON (Reuters) - Pop guru Simon Cowell carries
pocket-sized inhalable oxygen shots, America's "Mad Men"
actress January Jones favors dried placenta pills, and British
soap star Patsy Palmer rubs coffee granules into her skin.
Celebrities rarely shy away from public peddling of dubious
ideas about health and science, and 2012 was no exception.
Silicosis class action motion filed against South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African lawyer has moved
to file a class action suit against over 30 gold firms on
behalf of 17,000 former miners who say they contracted
silicosis, a debilitating lung disease, due to negligence in
health and safety. The companies include third-largest global
bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti
assets in the past but no longer produces it.
Meningitis, West Nile occupy U.S. health officials in 2012
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The year started in the United States
with a mild flu season but ended up being marked by deadly
outbreaks of fungal meningitis, West Nile virus and Hantavirus.
Tainted steroid medication has been cited as the cause of the
meningitis outbreak that killed 39 people.
Study links milk-producing protein to aggressive breast
HONG KONG (Reuters) - The discovery that a protein which
triggers milk production in women may also be responsible for
making breast cancers aggressive could open up new
opportunities for treatment of the most common and deadliest
form of cancer among women. Found in all breast cells, the
protein ELF5 tries to activate milk production even in breast
cancer cells, which does not work and then makes the cancer
more aggressive, according to scientists in Australia and
No fewer side effects for prostate proton therapy
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An expensive prostate cancer
radiation treatment known as proton beam therapy has just as
many side effects as a more common and cheaper radiation
method, according to a new study. In terms of side effects, "In
the long term, there's really no difference in outcomes between
proton radiation and IMRT for men with prostate cancer," said
lead author Dr. James Yu, a radiation oncologist at Yale
University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
Poor reading skills tied to risk of teen pregnancy
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Seventh grade girls who have
trouble reading are more likely to get pregnant in high school
than average or above-average readers, according to a new study
from Philadelphia. Researchers found that pattern stuck even
after they took into account the girls' race and poverty in
their neighborhoods - both of which are tied to teen pregnancy
Justice Sotomayor refuses to block contraceptives mandate
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Shanghai to enact strict new food safety law - Xinhua
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai will introduce tough new laws
to blacklist firms that flout food safety laws, the official
Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China's
consumer hub to end the food scandals that in recent years have
killed children. Under the proposed law, firms caught using
banned substances in food, producing food from inedible
ingredients, or illegally making, selling or using banned food
additives, will be banned from operating in Shanghai, Xinhua
reported late on Wednesday quoting city officials.