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Health Highlights: Nov. 19, 2008

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

Plastic Pieces Found in Lean Cuisine Chicken Meals

More than a million Lean Cuisine frozen meals are being recalled in the United States after seven customers said they found pieces of hard, bright blue plastic in their chicken meals.

Three varieties of meals are being recalled: Lean Cuisine Pesto Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta, Lean Cuisine Chicken Mediterranean, and Lean Cuisine Chicken Tuscan, the New York Daily News reported.

One consumer suffered a minor injury after a piece of plastic poked the person's gums, said Roz Ahearn, a spokeswoman for Nestle Prepared Foods.

"A tray may have broken and chip-chopped into the product," Ahearn told the Daily News.

For more information about the recall, call (800) 227-6188.


Protein Linked to Breast Cancer Metastasis

Reducing production of a protein called palladin limits the ability of breast cancer cells to spread, according to U.S. researchers who also found that levels of palladin were higher in four invasive breast cancer cell lines than in four non-invasive cell lines.

The findings from laboratory tests suggest that palladin plays a crucial role in the spread of cancer cells from breast tumors to other areas of the body, United Press International reported.

Most breast cancer patients wouldn't die if cancer cells couldn't make their way from the breast tumor to the brain and bone marrow, said researcher Carol Otey, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

The study was published in the journal Oncogene.


Nearly Half of Primary-Care Docs Dissatisfied: Survey

A new U.S. survey found that 49 percent of 11,950 primary care physicians said they want to stop practicing or reduce their patient loads during the next three years due to frustration caused by having to deal with non-clinical paperwork, difficulties being reimbursed by insurance companies, and too many government regulations.

"Tens of thousands of primary care doctors face the same problems as millions of ordinary citizens: frustrations in dealing with HMOs and government red tape," said Sandra Johnson, a board member of the Physicians' Foundation, which released the survey, United Press International reported.

"The thing we heard over and over again from the physicians was that they're unhappy they can't spend more time with their patients, which is why they went into primary care in the first place," Johnson said in a news release.

The survey also found that 78 percent of respondents believe there's an existing shortage of primary care doctors in the United States, UPI reported.


New Drug-Resistant Bacteria Spreading: Report

A new type of drug-resistant bacteria called Acinotobacter baumannii is becoming increasingly common in hospitals and other health care facilities, Greek researchers warn.

Their analysis of data showed that nearly a third of cases involving infection by A. baumannii have shown resistance to frontline antibiotics, Agence France Presse reported.

"Institutional outbreaks caused by multidrug-resistant strains are a growing public health problem," co-authors Drosos Karageorgopoulos and Matthew Falagas, of the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, wrote in The Lancet.

They cited a 2004 study of 24,000 cases of hospital patients whose bloodstream became infected by A. baumannii. The overall death rate was 34 percent, while the death rate among intensive care patients was 43 percent, AFP reported.

The study authors said urgent measures must be taken to prevent A. baumannii outbreaks in health care facilities and to identify drugs and drug combinations that are most effective in fighting the bacteria.

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Posted: November 2008