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Health Highlights: July 21, 2008

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

Deep Brain Stimulation Eases Depression: Study

Deep brain stimulation can help many patients with tough-to-treat depression, says a Canadian study. In deep brain stimulation, electrical impulses are delivered through electrodes implanted in the brain.

The patients in the study had major depressive disorder, a severe form of depression that's unresponsive to other treatments. One month after the start of deep brain stimulation, 35 percent of patients responded well to the therapy, with 10 percent of them entering remission, CBC News reported. Six months after the start of treatment, 60 percent of patients showed a good response and 35 percent were in remission.

"Our research confirmed that 60 percent of patients have shown a clinically significant response to the surgery and the benefits were sustained for at least one year," Dr. Andres Lazano, a neurosurgeon at the Krembil Neurosciences Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, said in a news release.

Lozano and colleagues said there were few serious side effects and no patients suffered long-term harm from the surgery to implant the electrodes, CBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.


Study Challenges Stereotypes About Obese Workers

Overweight workers aren't lazier, more emotionally unstable, or more difficult to get along with than other workers, say U.S. researchers who examined the relationship between body weight and personality traits among 3,500 adults.

The findings, which contradict widely held perceptions, mean that employers should not use weight as a predictor of personality traits when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing people, said study author Mark Roehling of Michigan State University, United Press International reported.

"Previous research has demonstrated that many employers hold negative stereotypes about obese workers and those beliefs contribute to discrimination against overweight workers at virtually every stage of the employment process, from hiring to promotion to firing," Roehling said in news release.

The study was published in the journal Group & Organization Management.


Asian Nations Need to Act Against Drug-Resistant TB: WHO

The lack of action by Asian nations to combat the spread of dangerous multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) poses a threat to international public health, says the World Health Organization.

The WHO said each patient with untreated MDR-TB could infect five to 10 people a year, and that an uncontrolled local epidemic could spread across international borders, Agence France Presse reported.

Only 1 percent of the estimated 150,000 people with MDR-TB in East Asia and the Pacific are receiving appropriate treatment, the WHO said in a statement released Monday.

"We are more vulnerable than ever to the MDR-TB threat. Countries must act responsively to safeguard global health," the WHO said, AFP> reported.

The U.N. agency said MDR-TB is a "serious problem in China and the Philippines, and of concern in Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam."


Cape Cod Hospital Patient Tested for Mad Cow Disease

A patient at Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts is being tested for the human form of mad cow disease, the state's director of communicable disease control told the Associated Press.

Tests are being done to determine if the patient has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and whether it's the variant attributed to mad cow, said Dr. Alfred DeMaria, who added that it will be a few days before test results are available.

Only three cases of the human form of mad cow disease have been confirmed in the United States in the last several years, the AP reported. Officials said it's highly unlikely that the patient in Cape Cod Hospital has the disease.

The hospital notified public health officials Thursday about a patient with test results that required reporting, said a hospital spokesman. Hospital officials were told the illness wasn't contagious and there was no cause for concern, the spokesman said.

Eating meat products contaminated with mad cow disease causes the human form of mad cow disease.

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Posted: July 2008