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Health Highlights: June 14, 2012

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

U.S. Youth Football Group Changes Rules to Reduce Head Injuries

The largest youth football group in the United States has announced rule changes meant to address growing concerns over football-related head injuries.

Pop Warner's new rules, which will limit the amount of full-speed collisions and other contact allowed in practice, will affect hundreds of thousands of youth football players, The New York Times reported.

The new rules -- which take effect at the start of the new season in August -- will permit contact for only one-third of each practice. In addition, there will be a ban on head-to-head contact and all drills that involve full-speed, head-on blocking and tackling that begins with players lined up more than three yards apart.

The move by Pop Warner is seen as the latest acknowledgement that football poses risks to the long-term cognitive health of players, The Times reported.


New Ebola Treatment Highly Effective: Study

Canadian scientists say they have developed one of the most effective cures yet for the deadly Ebola virus, which can kill up to nine of every 10 infected people.

The treatment -- which involves injections of a mixture of protein-grabbing antibodies that prevent the virus from replicating -- was tested in macaque monkeys infected with the most lethal strain of Ebola virus, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

All the macaques treated 24 hours after infection recovered, as did 50 percent of those treated 48 hours after infection.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science and Translational Medicine.

The researchers said this approach may prove effective in dealing with other dangerous viruses, The Globe and Mail reported.


FDA Panel Supports Expanded Use of Heart Valve

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should approve expanded use of an artificial heart valve that can be implanted without major surgery, an advisory panel of heart experts said Wednesday.

The panel voted 11-0 in favor of broadening approval for the Edwards Sciences' Sapien valve, the Associated Press reported.

Currently, the valve is approved for patients who aren't healthy enough to undergo more invasive open-heart surgery. The expanded approval would permit the use of the valve in patients who are healthier, but still face serious risks from open-heart surgery.

A final FDA decision is expected later this year. The agency typically follows the advice of its advisory panels, the AP reported.


Cold Virus Attacks Tumors: Study

Scientists who discovered that a common cold virus finds and attacks malignant tumors say their research could lead to new cancer treatments.

The British team injected reovirus into 10 patients with bowel cancer that had spread to the liver and found that the virus established lethal "reproduction factories" in the tumors, but not in healthy tissue, ABC News reported.

The virus piggybacked on blood cells to hide from the immune system as it traveled to the tumors, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The researchers said their findings suggest that it may be possible to inject cancer-killing viruses into the bloodstream to target hard-to-treat tumors, ABC News reported.


Death Risk Rises on Birthdays: Study

People are about 14 percent more likely to die on their birthday than any other day of the year, according to a new study that looked at 2.4 million deaths in Switzerland over 40 years.

The increased risk of death on birthdays rises with age and is strongest for cardiovascular causes such as heart attack and stroke. The study also found that men appear to have an increased risk of suicides and accidents, especially falls, on their birthday, USA Today reported.

Birthdays can be stressful, especially for seniors, and that stress could lead to heart attack and stroke. Alcohol and feeling down about being another year older could contribute to the increased risk of accidents and suicides among men, according to the authors of the study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.

Previous research has found an increased risk of heart-related deaths on Christmas and New Years and pointed to stress as a possible cause, USA Today reported.


Man 'Cured' of HIV May Have Traces of Virus

New data about the only person believed to have been cured of HIV infection has experts wondering if he still has traces of HIV in his body.

Timothy Ray Brown is a 45-year-old American whose HIV appeared to cured after he had two bone marrow transplants in 2007 and 2008 to treat leukemia unrelated to his HIV infection. The donor for his transplants had a rare genetic mutation that makes blood cells immune to HIV, National Public Radio reported.

Last week, researchers who analyzed cells from Brown's blood, lymph nodes, spinal fluid and intestinal tract said they found fragments of HIV genetic material in some of the samples.

However, the fragments don't completely match those of the HIV Brown had before his bone marrow transplants. Scientists say this suggests that the finding is a false reading caused by laboratory contamination, NPR reported.


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Posted: June 2012