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Health Highlights: Mar. 1, 2002 (HealthSCOUT) ... that swim through the body and collect in certain organs, especially those with tumors....... it can move through the bloodstream and later attack the kidneys, spine and brain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.... - Mar 01 11:54 PM ET

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 03/05/2002

Fri Mar 1,11:54 PM ET

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

Snoring a Risk Factor for Type II Diabetes

Women who snore regularly are twice as likely to develop Type II diabetes as those who have a quiet night's slumber, HealthScout News reports.

Snoring has been tied to obesity, but the authors of a new study say their findings about diabetes apply regardless of waistline.

"To our surprise, the association didn't disappear after adjusting for weight," says Dr. Wael K. Al-Delaimy, a Harvard nutrition expert and lead author of the study. "It seems that regular snoring is an independent risk factor" for developing diabetes.

Snoring often accompanies sleep apnea, too, though many of those in the study didn't have the latter, a sleep-disrupting condition. Some scientists have found insulin resistance increases in patients with sleep apnea who snore heavily, Al-Delaimy says. He adds that giving oxygen during slumber can improve the problem.

A report on the findings appears in today's issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.


Researchers Closer To ID on Pancreatic Cancer Gene

Researchers say they have come one step closer to getting at the genetic core of inherited pancreatic cancer. They say they've discovered the chromosome region in which the gene responsible for the cancer can be found.

According to the electronic edition of the April issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, the gene has been identified in a region on chromosome four.

That narrows down the possible culprits to just about 100 genes, say wire reports.

The researchers, with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington in Seattle, say they expect to pinpoint the specific gene within about a year.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease.


Britain Accelerates Stem Cell Research

While controversy over embryonic stem cell research continues in this country, Britain took a major step in accelerating such research today. The government granted the first licenses allowing scientists to experiment with cells from donated extra embryos from In Vitro fertilization (IVF), the Associated Press reports.

Some countries are already conducting studies on stem cells from IVF embryos, but Britain has the world's most liberal laws regarding the research and is expected to take the lead in the field.

Stem cells offer scientists a look at the earliest stages of cells that go on to form every specialized cell in the human body.

Some conservatives and right-to-life groups have protested their use in this country, and President Bush last year restricted the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research to the 64 known cell lines in existence.


Sleep Apnea May Contribute to Depression

People who suffer a condition in which their breathing briefly stops several times an hour during sleep suffer chronic fatigue and are prone to mental disorders including depression, Canadian researchers say.

Sleep apnea, characterized by at least five "events" per hour, causes sufferers to briefly awaken in order to resume breathing. More than two-thirds of sufferers said they are usually impatient, 59 percent felt anxious and 53 percent often felt depressed, a Laval University study finds. About 77 percent said they are constantly tired.

A more severe form of the condition, in which people awaken 10 or more times per hour, is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It affects about 4 percent of the population, and has been shown to increase a person's risk of heart attack and stroke.

Some 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, the National Institutes of Health says. Risk factors include being male, over age 40 and obese.


Medicare to Fund PET Scans for Breast Cancer Patients

Medicare will finance a sophisticated test to help diagnose and determine the extent of breast cancer in some recipients, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson says.

People who have PET scans, short for positron emission tomography, are injected with radioactive "tracers" that swim through the body and collect in certain organs, especially those with tumors. The substances light up when viewed on a special computer, allowing doctors to see the organs more clearly.

Medicare traditionally has paid for PET scans in certain cases of lung, colon, and skin cancer. Last year, HHS approved the test for use in several other types of the disease, notably lymphoma and esophageal cancer, the Associated Press reports. However, breast cancer -- which affects some 90,000 Medicare recipients annually -- had not been included.


Seattle Mariners Players, Coaches Test Positive for TB

Five members of the Seattle Mariners baseball club have tested positive for exposure to tuberculosis, but none has contracted the full-blown disease, according to a local newspaper.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that two players, two coaches and one clubhouse attendant have tested positive for "latent" TB, although the team cited privacy issues and wouldn't name those involved. People who carry the latent form don't usually feel sick and can prevent the full-blown disease with antibiotics.

About 60 players and club employees were tested after shortstop Carlos Guillen contracted a full-blown case of TB last September. The newspaper report does not mention the current status of Guillen's health.

TB, once the leading cause of death in the U.S., is a highly infectious bacterial disease that usually begins in the lungs. Left untreated, it can move through the bloodstream and later attack the kidneys, spine and brain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. It is spread by coughing and sneezing.


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