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Health Highlights: Aug.23, 2011

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

Male Bisexuality is Real: Study

Bisexual men are sexually aroused by both men and women, a new study confirms.

The findings by Northwestern University researchers aren't news to bisexual men but do counter a previous study by researchers at the same university who concluded that there's no proof that male bisexuality exists, The New York Times reported.

The new study found that bisexual men were aroused by videos of both male and female same-sex intimacy, while homosexual and heterosexual men were not. The study appears online in the journal Biological Psychology.

"Someone who is bisexual might say, 'Well, duh!'" lead author Allen Rosenthal, a doctoral student in psychology, told The Times. "But this will be validating to a lot of bisexual men who had heard about the earlier work and felt that scientists weren't getting them."

Another study published earlier this year also found that bisexual men have a distinctive pattern of sexual arousal.


Coverage Granted to Man With Breast Cancer

A South Carolina man with breast cancer who was denied Medicaid coverage for treatment of his disease because he's a man is going to get coverage after all.

Raymond Johnson, 30, received the good news late last week from the state's Department of Health and Human Services, reported.

Johnson, a tile layer who didn't have work coverage and couldn't afford private insurance, was not eligible for traditional Medicaid coverage. He was advised to apply for coverage under a special Medicaid program for breast and ovarian cancer patients, but earlier this month was told it only provides care for women.

But state health officials have now decided to deem Johnson eligible for the program and will submit claims to the federal government for reimbursement. However, federal officials' stance on the case isn't clear.

"If federal lawyers choose to deny those claims based on a discriminatory policy, that is their choice and our department will appeal the decision," South Carolina Health and Human Services Director Tony Keck said in a statement, reported.


Spider Silk Used to Create Bulletproof Skin

A Dutch artist used a lattice of human skin cells and genetically engineered spider silk to create "bulletproof skin" that's able to stop .22 caliber bullets fired at reduced speeds.

But the real value of this bio-art project is that it shows the potential of using this type of biotechnology to cover large wounds, treat people with severe burns and create artificial tendons and ligaments, according to Utah State University's Randy Lewis, the Associated Press reported.

Lewis and his colleagues recently developed a commercially viable method of manufacturing spider silk fibers using silkworms and goats implanted with spider genes. The genetically engineered spider silk was used in the bulletproof skin project.

The bulletproof skin shows a strength and elasticity that could prove especially helpful to surgeons trying to replace large amounts of human skin, Lewis told the AP.

He hopes to begin animal testing with spider silk materials within two years and noted that it's already been shown that spider silk is compatible with the human body.


Bacteria From Dog Feces Common in Air of Some Cities: Study

Dog feces may be the source of the most common type of bacteria found in the air of some U.S. cities during the winter, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined air samples collected in winter from Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Mayville, Wis., reported.

"To our surprise the airborne bacterial communities of Detroit and Cleveland most closely resembled those communities found in dog poop," lead author Robert Bowers, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.

"As best as we can tell, dog feces are the only explanation for these results," Noah Fierer, an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Colorado, told "But we do need to do more research."

The researchers want to sample cities across the U.S. to determine if airborne fecal bacteria is a widespread issue.

The study appears in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.


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Posted: August 2011