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Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2008

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

Well-Funded State Programs Linked to Smoking Declines

States with well-funded tobacco control programs see a larger and more rapid decline in adult smoking than other states, a new study concludes.

"It appears that sustained, well-funded programs become increasingly effective over time," said the study's lead author, Matthew Farrelly, of the nonprofit research institute RTI International. The study was co-sponsored by RTI and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There was a direct link between states with the biggest declines in adult smoking and state per person investments in tobacco control programs, the researchers said in a statement. Results of the study appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The most successful programs combined educational, clinical, regulatory, economic, and social strategies to encourage smoke-free policies, to promote and assist tobacco users to quit, and to prevent would-be smokers from ever starting, the researchers said.

They estimated that had all 50 states begun this type of program in 1995 at funding levels recommended by the CDC, there would have been 2.2 million to 7.1 million fewer U.S. smokers by 2003.

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ADHD Linked to Bullying

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are almost four times as likely as other children to be bullies, and are almost 10 times more likely than others to be the regular victims of bullying before the onset of ADHD symptoms, says a Swedish study that followed 577 fourth graders for one year. The children studied represented the entire population of a municipality in Stockholm.

Researchers interviewed the children, along with their parents and teachers, in order to identify which children may have had ADHD. Those with signs of the disorder were then seen by a pediatric neurologist for a diagnosis. The children were also asked about bullying, MSNBC reported.

The study findings emphasize the importance of observing how children with ADHD symptoms interact with their peers, said study co-author Dr. Anders Hjern, a professor of pediatric epidemiology at the University of Uppsala in Stockholm.

This could help teachers and parents identify children at potential risk of bullying and being bullied, MSNBC reported. An estimated 4 percent to 12 percent of children have ADHD, the network said.

The study appears in the February issue of the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

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HIV Rate Among U.S. Households Is 0.47 Percent

About 0.47 percent of the U.S. household population between the ages of 18 and 49 is living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, a new federal report says. The figure is based on National Center for Health Statistics survey data from 1999-2006.

The rate is about the same as it was for the U.S. household population in 1988-94, according to the agency, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the report's key findings:

  • Men ages 18-49 are more likely to be infected (0.7 percent) than women (0.2 percent).
  • Two percent of non-Hispanic black adults ages 18-49 were infected, compared with 0.23 percent of white adults and 0.3 percent of Mexican-American adults.
  • Adults ages 18-49 who are infected with the herpes simplex type 2 virus (HSV-2) are more than 15 times as likely than others to also be infected with HIV. About 2 percent of HSV-2 positive adults also have HIV.

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Marijuana Increases Lung Cancer Risk: Study

Smoking one marijuana joint is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk, according to a New Zealand study of 79 lung cancer patients reported by Fox News.

Researchers concluded that smoking more than one joint a day for 10 years or smoking two joints a day for five years was associated with a 5.7 times increased risk of lung cancer, after adjusting for cigarette smoking and other variables.

People who smoke marijuana end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their blood than tobacco smokers, said study team leader Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. He and his colleagues also noted that marijuana smoke has twice the level of carcinogens as tobacco smoke, Fox News reported.

The study appears in the European Respiratory Journal.

Past research has show that marijuana can cause cancer, but few studies have established a strong connection between marijuana use and actual incidence of lung cancer, Fox News reported.

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Developing Countries Face Cancer Epidemic: U.N.

U.N. health officials warned Monday there's a growing cancer epidemic in developing nations, which are expected to account for about 70 percent of new cases worldwide over the next 10 years, Agence France-Presse reported.

The officials also noted that a lack of medical training, staff, resources and money means that millions of cancer patients in developing countries don't get the care they need. About $1 billion would be needed to provide radiotherapy and other forms of treatment to cancer patients in developing countries over the next decade, according to the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA's Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) division shares its knowledge of radiotherapy methods with other groups, the news service reported.

About 84 million people worldwide are at risk of dying from cancer over the next decade, said the IAEA and the World Health Organization. In 2005, cancer killed 7.6 million people worldwide, more than were killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, according to WHO statistics.

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Breast Size May Help Predict Diabetes Risk

A young woman's breast size may indicate her risk for type 2 diabetes later in life, suggests a Canadian-led study published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers looked at data on 92,000 women in the ongoing U.S. Nurse's Health Study II and found that those who wore a D-cup bra at age 20 were nearly 60 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who wore a smaller cup size, the Toronto Star reported. The diabetes risk appears to increase progressively with breast size.

The study also found that women with high body mass index plus large breasts at age 20 were about four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with low BMI and small breasts.

Obesity, especially excess fat in the abdomen, has long been regarded as an important factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. This new study suggests that fat storage in women's breasts may pose an additional and independent diabetes risk, the Star reported.

These are preliminary findings and more research is needed to examine the possible link between breast size and diabetes risk, said the study authors, from the University of Toronto and Harvard Medical School.

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Genes Determine Night/Day Preferences: Study

Genes play a major role in determining whether someone is a night owl or a morning person, says a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

German and Swiss researchers found that each cell of the body has an internal clock that can be affected by various genes. They also found that skin cells can be used to measure the speed of a person's body clock, BBC News reported.

These findings could help improve diagnosis of sleep disorders and conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of winter depression.

In this study, the researchers took skin biopsies from 28 volunteers and grew the skin cells in a lab. They measured the speed of the "clocks" in the cells and found that, in most cases, the results matched up with the behavior of the cell donors, BBC News reported.

Posted: January 2008


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