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Health Highlights: Oct. 6, 2009

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

Woman's Education Affects Male Partner's Lifespan: Study

Well-educated women and their male partners are more likely to live a long life than less-educated women and their men, according to a Swedish study of 1.5 million working people ages 30 to 59.

The study found that women with a university education were 53 percent less likely to die at an early age than those with only a school education. Men whose female partners had a university education were 25 percent less likely to die early than those who lived with a woman with a school education, BBC News reported.

"Women traditionally take more responsibility for the home than men do and, as a consequence, women's education might be more important for the family lifestyle -- for example in terms of food habits -- than men's education," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Erikson.

He and his colleagues found that men's income and social status affect their female partner's lifespan, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Epidemiology and Community Health.


Gen. Patraeus Treated for Prostate Cancer

It's been revealed that the United States' top commander for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and has undergone radiation treatment.

Gen. David Patraeus, 56, was told in February that he had early stage prostate cancer, the Associated Press reported. But the illness was not made public at the time because he and his family considered it a "personal matter" that "did not interfere with the performance of his duties," said the general's spokesman, Col. Erik Grunhus.

President Barack Obama and high-ranking administration officials were told.

Following the diagnosis, Patraeus underwent two months of radiation therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon said the treatment was successful. He made at least one trip overseas during his treatment, the AP reported.


Improved Care Could Save 600,000 Babies Each Year: Study

About 600,000 of the two million babies who die worldwide each year could be saved by improving health care for women giving birth in poor countries, a new study says.

About 99 percent of baby deaths occur in poor homes in areas of Africa and South Asia where there are few doctors, resources or medical equipment, said the study. It found that 1.02 million babies a year are stillborn during labor and about 904,000 die soon after birth due to birth complications, Agence France Presse reported.

Only about one million of nearly eight million physicians worldwide work in countries where 77 percent of childbirth deaths occur, and the majority of those one million doctors work in urban areas, the news service said.

The researchers also found that only about 20 percent of babies born in African hospitals are delivered by staff with the skills and equipment needed to resuscitate babies if they don't breathe at birth, AFP reported.

The study, published in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, was released at an international conference in Cape Town, South Africa.


Health Care Workers First to Receive U.S. Swine Flu Shots

Doctors, paramedics and other health-care workers in Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee were the first Americans to receive the H1N1 swine flu vaccine as the U.S. government commenced its nationwide immunization effort Monday.

People who lined up for the vaccine got it as FluMist, a nasally delivered spritz initially reserved for front-line health-care workers, according to the Associated Press. Only 7 million doses of vaccine are expected to be delivered nationwide by the end of the week. Most states are expected to reserve these early shipments for doctors and other medical personnel.

"I needed that protection," Dr. John Eshun, a gastroenterologist standing in line at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., told the AP.

By mid-October, more than 40 million doses of H1N1 vaccine are expected to have been distributed. Some states, such as Arkansas and Pennsylvania, are reserving this week's expected stock of vaccine for in-school vaccinations, the AP said.

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Posted: October 2009