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Health Highlights: Jan. 8, 2013

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

George H.W. Bush's Recovery Continuing: Spokesman

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is continuing his recovery from a bronchitis-related cough and there's no timetable for his release from hospital, according to a statement released Monday.

Bush, 88, has been in Methodist Hospital in Houston since Nov. 23, the Associated Press reported.

Monday's statement by the former president's spokesman Jim McGrath is the first information about Bush's condition since Dec. 30., when it was announced that he had been moved out of intensive care.


Microwaves Extend Bread Life

Bombarding bread with microwaves for about 10 seconds will keep the bread mold-free for 60 days, according to a Texas company that developed the new technology.

The microwaves kill mold spores, Don Stull, chief executive officer of MicroZap Inc., told the Associated Press. He said the process could eliminate the need for bakers to use preservatives and ingredients to mask the preservatives' flavor.

The technology could also increase bread's shelf life and reduce food waste, according to Stull.

Mold develops on unrefrigerated bread in plastic packaging after 10 days, so the new technology may prove useful in bread storage and transportation. But it may not do much to protect your bread once you get it home, an expert said.

There are thousands of airborne mold spores everywhere and once "you open (the bag of bread), all bets are off," Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, told the AP.


DASH, Weight Watchers Best Diets Overall: Report

The DASH diet is the best overall diet, beating out 28 others, including Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast and Atkins, according to the Best Diets 2013 ranking released by U.S. News & World Report.

Weight Watchers was rated the best of 12 commercial diet programs marketed to the public, and the Mediterranean diet was judged to be the best plant-based diet.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) wasn't created to help people lose weight, but rather to fight high blood pressure, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The diets were scored by a panel of experts based on short- and long-term weight loss, how easy they are to follow, potential health risks, how well they conform to current nutrition standards, and their ability to prevent and control diabetes and heart disease.


U.S. Supreme Court Refuses Case Challenging Stem Cell Funding

A challenge to the Obama administration's funding for research using human embryonic stem cells will not be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a one-line written order released Monday, the court backed an appeals-court ruling supporting National Institutes of Health funding guidelines for research involving the stem cells, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In 2010, a federal trial judge ruled against funding for the research. But an appeals court later reinstated the funding, ruling in favor of the government on two separate occasions.

Supporters of the research say it could lead to new treatments for a wide range of diseases, while opponents question the morality of using embryos, which are destroyed in the process to retrieve the stem cells, WSJ reported.


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Posted: January 2013