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Health Highlights: Oct. 5, 2010

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

Dieters Need Sufficient Sleep: Study

Sleep may play an important role in losing weight, a new study says.

The study found that dieters who spent 8 1/2 hours in bed per night shed more excess fat than those who were limited to 5 1/2 hours in bed, The New York Times reported.

The sleep-deprived participants also felt hungrier and had higher levels of an appetite-driving hormone called ghrelin, the study found.

"The bottom line is that if people are trying to diet and lose weight for health reasons, it makes sense to get a sufficient amount of sleep," said senior author Dr. Plamen D. Penev, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, the Times reported.

"If they're not getting enough sleep as they diet, they may have higher levels of hunger and be struggling to adhere to the (diet) regimen," Penev explained.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.


In Vitro Fertilization Developer Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine

The 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine has been awarded to a British scientist for his role in developing in-vitro fertilization.

Robert Edwards, 85, developed the technique with gynecologist surgeon Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988. The first birth of a so-called test-tube baby was in 1978, the Associated Press reported.

Edwards, a professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, first started working on IVF in the early 1950s.

"(Edwards') achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity, including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide," the Nobel medicine prize committee said in its citation, the AP reported.

"Approximately 4 million individuals have been born thanks to IVF," the citation noted. "Today, Robert Edwards' vision is a reality and brings joy to infertile people all over the world."


STD Experiments in Guatemala 'Clearly Unethical,' U.S. Says

The United States issued an apology Friday for government-sponsored experiments that deliberately infected hundreds of people in Guatemala with gonorrhea or syphilis in the 1940s.

U.S. Public Health Service researchers and others experimented on institutionalized mental patients, giving them gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge. About one-third of the patients who became infected never received adequate treatment, MSNBC reported.

"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," according to a joint statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

Officials said the apology is directed to Guatemalan and Hispanic residents of the United States, MSNBC noted.

Records of the experiments, which were hidden, were discovered by a professor at Wellesley College. The research involved the antibiotic penicillin but never provided useful information, MSNBC said.

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Posted: October 2010