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Health Highlights: Oct. 29, 2010

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

Weight-Loss Drug Qnexa Rejected By FDA

A highly-anticipated experimental diet pill called Qnexa has been rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The agency wants additional study results and information on the drug's potential health threats, California-based drug maker Vivus Inc. said in a news release Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The company said it plans to respond to the FDA in about six weeks.

Some experts had considered Qnexa to be the most promising weight-loss drug in more than a decade.

But in July, an FDA expert panel recommended that the agency not approve Qnexa because it was associated with a number of dangerous side effects, including heart palpitations, birth defects, suicidal thoughts and memory lapses, the AP reported.

Last Saturday, the FDA rejected another experimental weight-loss drug called lorcaserin due the development of tumors in rats during early stage testing.

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McDonld's Fined For Manager's Weight Gain

McDonald's has been ordered to pay a former franchise manager in Brazil $17,500 because he gained 65 pounds while working at the outlet for 12 years.

The unnamed 32-year-old man said he gained the weight because he had to sample food products every day in order to check the quality. He did this because McDonald's employed "mystery clients" who made random visits to restaurants and assessed the food, service and cleanliness, reported The Guardian in the U.K.

In addition, McDonald's offered free lunches to employees, the man said.

The Brazilian court ruling can be appealed by McDonald's, The Guardian reported.

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Experts Debate Increased HPV Vaccination For Males

The pros and cons of more widespread use of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in boys and young men are being debated by U.S. government vaccine advisers.

They must also decide whether a program for boys would drain meager resources from a vaccination campaign for girls that's had poor success, The New York Times reported.

Two vaccines -- Gardasil and Cervarix -- are approved for use in both sexes to protect them against HPV, which can cause genital warts and cervical, anal and some head and throat cancers. HPV can be passed through vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Each year in the United States, about 800 men get HPV-related penile cancer, 1,100 men get HPV-related anal cancer, and 5,700 men get HPV-related head and neck cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government advisory committee must decide if the cost of vaccinating all boys is worth preventing those numbes of cases. But they also have to consider the fact that vaccinating males against HPV also helps prevent cervical cancer in their female sex partners, The Times reported.

The committee heard study findings that suggest when HPV vaccination rates are low in females (the current situation in the U.S.), vaccinating males isn't as cost-effective as efforts to boost vaccination rates in females. The study also said that when HPV vaccination rates in females are high, vaccination of males is not cost-effective.

Currently, the HPV vaccination rate for boys ages 11 to 17 is less than one percent, but the rate for male college students is closer to 15 percent, according to Dr. James C. Turner, a liaison to the committee from the American College Health Association, The Times reported.

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Gene Linked To Liberalism: Study

People with a certain gene variation are more likely to be liberal, but only if they had lots of friends in high school, according to a new study.

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, analyzed data from almost 2,600 teens who took part in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which gathered details about participants' genes, friends and their political beliefs later in life, the Washington Post reported.

The results showed that teens with the "7R" version of the DRD4 gene were more likely to liberal when they became adults.

The DRD4 gene is associated with the brain chemical dopamine, which helps control emotional responses and the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Previous research has linked the gene to risk-taking behavior, the Post reported.

The study appears in The Journal of Politics.

The DRD4 gene may make people more open to new experiences, including learning about other people's points of views. This would expose them to a "wider diversity of viewpoints" and lead to their liberalism, the researchers suggested, the Post reported.

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Chances Of IVF Success Level Off After Third Try: Study

Repeated attempts at getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) don't necessarily improve the chances of having a baby, finds a new study.

U.S. researchers looked at about 300,000 women who had more than half a million IVF cycles over five years and found that the live birth rate was 36 percent on the first IVF, 48 percent on the second attempt and 53 percent on the third try, the Associated Press reported.

However, the rate among women who tried seven or more times was 56 percent, justly slightly better than 53 percent success rate after three tries.

"Don't quit if the first cycle isn't successful. Your chances go up with the second cycle," said lead researcher Barbara Luke of Michigan State University, the AP reported. But she added that "if you haven't gotten pregnant by the third, the chances are slim to continue."

The study was presented Wednesday at a reproductive medicine meeting in Denver.

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Posted: October 2010


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