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Health Highlights: April 18, 2011

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

Remarks Deemed Offensive Cause Head of Surgeons Group to Resign

After weeks of controversy over an editorial that outraged many women in the medical field, the president-elect of the American College of Surgeons resigned his position Sunday.

Dr. Lazar Greenfield was editor in chief of Surgery News when he wrote a Valentine's Day editorial that touted the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women during unprotected sex, The New York Times reported.

His editorial referred to a study that suggested compounds in semen may have antidepressant effects on women. "So there's a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there's a better gift for that day than chocolates," Greenfield concluded in the editorial.

Many women in the medical field were angered by the editorial, saying it reflected a macho culture in surgery. As a result, the entire issue of Surgery News was withdrawn and Greenfield resigned as editor in chief.

But the controversy continued to follow him and Greenfield said he decided to resign as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons "rather than have this remain a disruptive issue," he said in a statement sent by e-mail, The Times reported.

Greenfiled is an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.


New Anti-Fatigue Rules for Air Traffic Controllers

Longer breaks between shifts for air traffic controllers are among the new anti-fatigue rules announced by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration following a series of incidents in which air traffic controllers fell asleep on the job.

Air traffic controllers will now have at least nine hours off between shifts instead of the current eight-hour minimum, under the new rules. In addition, controllers will not be allowed to switch shifts with another controller unless they have had at least nine hours off, and FAA managers will be working more late-night and early-morning shifts to better monitor controllers, USA Today reported.

But allowing controllers to have naps during a shift doesn't appear to be under consideration, even though some experts believe it's a good idea.

"On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Fox News Sunday, according to USA Today. "We want to make sure they're well rested. We want to make (sure) that in the workplace there's the ability for them to do their job, but we're not going to pay controllers to be napping. We're not going to do that."


FDA Approves Electricity Treatment for Brain Cancer

A first-of-a-kind treatment that uses electrical energy fields to fight brain cancer has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The NovoTTF device was approved for patients with aggressive brain cancer that has returned after treatment with chemotherapy, the Associated Press reported.

The device, made by Novocure, disrupts the division of cancer cells that allows tumors to grow. The electrical signals are delivered through four electrodes attached to the patient's head.

The FDA approval was based on a study of 237 patients that found those treated with the device lived as long as those receiving chemotherapy and had far fewer side effects, the AP reported.


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Posted: April 2011