Health Highlights: June 23, 2008

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

FDA Approves 5-in-1 Children's Vaccine

The 5-in-1 pediatric combination vaccine Pentacel has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in infants and children ages 6 weeks through 4 years, maker Sanofi Pasteur announced.

Pentacel -- which includes immunization against influenza type B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis) and poliomyelitis -- was approved for administration as a four-dose series at 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months of age, United Press International reported. The first dose can be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

Currently, children in the United States receive up to 23 injections by the time they're 18 months old, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The use of Pentacel could reduce that number of shots by as many as seven, said Wayne Pisano, president and chief executive officer of Sanofi Pasteur, UPI reported.

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Expert Panel Presents New Definition of Premature Ejaculation

A new definition of premature ejaculation was presented at the American Urological Association's annual meeting by an International Society for Sexual Medicine panel of experts, United Press International reported.

The panel said premature ejaculation should be defined as "a male dysfunction characterized by ejaculation which always or nearly always occurs prior to or within about one minute of vaginal penetration; and, inability to delay ejaculation on all or nearly all vaginal penetrations; and, negative personal consequences, such as distress, bother, frustration and or the avoidance of sexual intimacy."

The panel had been asked to create a new definition of premature ejaculation, based on available clinical evidence.

It's believed about 20 percent to 30 percent of men are affected by premature ejaculation, UPI reported. While it's less commonly reported than erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation may coexist in one-third of men who complain of ED.

There are no FDA-approved drugs for premature ejaculation, the wire service said. Behavioral and sexual exercises are among commonly prescribed treatments.

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Chicken Molecule May Improve Understanding of Allergic Reactions in Humans

Chickens may help scientists better understand severe allergic reactions in people and develop new ways to prevent or treat these potentially deadly attacks.

Researchers at King's College London in the U.K. found that chickens have a "fossilized" version of the main molecule responsible for severe allergic reactions in people, BBC News reported.

The IgY molecule in chickens may be an ancient predecessor of a similar human molecule called IgE, which plays a major role in asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock.

By studying IgY, it's possible to track the evolution of allergic reactions back at least 160 million years, said researcher Dr. Alex Taylor, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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NSAID Creams May Top Pills For Knee Pain

Anti-inflammatory creams are better than pills for treating chronic knee pain, say British researchers.

The team at the Queen Mary University of London studied 585 people over age 50 and found the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) topical treatments worked as well as NSAID pills and caused fewer side effects such as indigestion, increasing blood pressure, or worsening asthma, BBC News reported.

The study appears on the U.K. National Institute for Health Research Web site.

In the past, doctors have likely under-prescribed topical creams because they didn't believe they were as effective as pills, an Arthritis Research Campaign spokeswoman told BBC News.

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Turmeric May Help Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk

The curry spice turmeric may help reverse obesity-related inflammation and reduce type 2 diabetes risk, according to Columbia University Medical Center researchers.

In obese mice, turmeric significantly reduced inflammation in fat tissue and the liver and reduced the rodents' susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. The researchers believe curcumin -- an ingredient in turmeric -- may be responsible, United Press International reported.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society and will be published in the journal Endocrinology.

"It's too early to tell whether increasing dietary curcumin -- via turmeric -- intake in obese people with diabetes will show a similar benefit," researcher Dr. Drew Tortoriello said in a prepared statement, UPI reported.

"Although the daily intake of curcumin one might have to consume as a primary diabetes treatment is likely impractical, it is entirely possible that lower dosages of curcumin could nicely complement our traditional therapies as a natural and safe treatment," Tortoriello said.

Posted: June 2008


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