Health Highlights: Nov. 2, 2011

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

Melanoma-Detecting Device Approved by FDA

A device designed to help doctors decide if a mole should be removed and tested for melanoma was approved Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The MelaFind takes detailed images of suspicious-looking skin growths and analyzes them for signs of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, the Associated Press reported.

The device, made by Mela Sciences Inc. of Irvington, N.Y., compares images from patients to a database of 10,000 images and then recommends whether a biopsy should be done.

Finding melanoma at an early stage can save lives. While 85 percent of patients diagnosed with late-stage melanoma die within five years, nearly all patients diagnosed with early-stage melanoma can be treated and cured, the AP reported.

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Obama in Excellent Health

President Barack Obama is physically active, eats a healthy diet, maintains a healthy weight, occasionally consumes alcohol in moderation, has quit smoking and is fit for his age, according to a new medical report.

"The President is in excellent health and 'fit for duty,'" Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman, the physician who supervised the physical performed last week at the White House, wrote in the two-page report, USA Today said. "All clinical data indicate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency."

"The President is current on all age-appropriate screening tests," Kuhlman noted. "He is 'fit at 50' and 'staying healthy at 50+.'"

Obama's next physical should be held in December 2012, Kuhlman recommended. That's a month after the presidential election, USA Today said.

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Scientists Rejuvenate Cells From Elderly

Age-worn cells in people over 90 were rejuvenated into stem cells that were identical to those found in embryos, a new study says.

The achievement could lead to new opportunities in regenerative medicine, especially for seniors, according to scientists, Agence France-Presse reported.

The research is reported in the journal Genes & Development.

"This is a new paradigm for cell rejuvenation," Jean-Marc Lemaitre, a researcher at the Institute of Functional Genomics at the University of Montpellier in France, told AFP. "The age of cells is definitely not a barrier to reprogramming."

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Group Challenges J&J on Chemicals in Baby Shampoo

Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo sold in the United States contains trace amounts of two chemicals considered harmful to babies, but the company sells versions of the shampoo without the chemicals in other countries, according to a group called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The coalition of environmental and health groups has spent 2 1/2 years trying to convince Johnson & Johnson to remove the potential cancer-causing chemicals -- dioxane and a substance called quaternium-15 that release formaldehyde -- from the shampoo, the Associated Press reported.

The company says it is reducing or gradually phasing out the chemicals but has not responded directly to the demand of the group, which is now calling for a consumer boycott of Johnson & Johnson baby products.

"Johnson & Johnson clearly can make safer baby shampoo in all the markets around the world, but it's not doing it," said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the AP reported. "It's clearly a double standard, something they can easily fix."

The group's new report on the issue will be released Tuesday, the same day that it will launch the boycott on its website.

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Posted: November 2011


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