Health Highlights: Dec. 7, 2010

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Elizabeth Edwards' Cancer Treatment Halted

Doctors have told Elizabeth Edwards that further treatment for her cancer will do no good and she may die within weeks. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2004.

The 61-year-old estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards is gravely ill and is at her North Carolina home with family and friends, the Associated Press reported.

A family friend said Edwards was briefly hospitalized last week and received treatment.

On her Facebook page Monday, Edwards thanked her supporters, the AP reported.

"The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered," Edwards wrote. "We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."

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Obesity Serious Problem in EU: Report

More than half of adults in European Union countries are overweight or obese and the obesity rate in EU member states has more than doubled over the past 20 years, says a new report.

The U.K., Ireland and Malta have the highest obesity rates, said the Health at a Glance Europe 2010 paper, BBC News reported.

The key to reversing this "worrying trend" is to encourage children to adopt healthy lifestyles, says the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who compiled the document.

Currently, one in seven children in the EU are overweight or obese and that rate is expected to rise, BBC News reported. Only 20 percent of children in EU member states get regular exercise and physical activity tends to decline between the ages of 11 and 15 in most EU nations.

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Obese Children Lag in Physical Activity: Study

Obese children in the United States do 16 minutes less physical activity per day than normal-weight youngsters, according to researchers at the University of Southern California and the National Institutes of Health.

Normal-weight children ages 6 to 17 get 59 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, compared with 43 minutes for obese children, USA Today reported.

The researchers' analysis of data collected from 3,106 children also found that boys ages 6 to 17 get about 64 minutes of physical activity per day, compared to 44 minutes for girls in the same age range.

The study appears in this month's issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

"This is a huge wake-up call to society," said senior author Donna Spruijt-Metz, an associate professor of medicine at USC, USA Today reported.

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Flu Vaccination Critical for People with Chronic Health Conditions: CDC

People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are strongly urged to get vaccinated against the flu, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is National Influenza Vaccination Week and the CDC has designated Tuesday as Chronic Conditions Vaccination Day to emphasize the importance of flu vaccination for people with certain chronic medical conditions.

"Diabetes (type 1 or 2), asthma (even well-controlled), and heart disease are among the most common health conditions that place people at higher risk for serious flu complications like hospitalization, pneumonia and even death. Vaccination of high risk persons and their close contacts is especially important to reduce their risk of severe flu illness," the agency said in a news release.

For more information, visit www.flu.gov/getvaccinated.

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Cholera Death Toll Over 2,000: Haiti Officials

Cholera has killed more than 2,000 people in Haiti since last October and more than 91,700 people have been sickened by the disease, according to Haitian officials.

But last week, the United Nations said the actual number of deaths and infections could be twice as high as officially reported, said the Associated Press.

Despite efforts to bring it under control, the cholera epidemic is still going strong, especially in rural regions.

The outbreak began along the rural Artibonite River and has spread to every part of the country due to poor sanitation and health care system problems, the AP reported.

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Posted: December 2010


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