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Health Highlights: Sept. 14, 2010

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

'Superbug' Gene Reported in 3 States

Cases of people sickened by a new gene that enables many types of bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance have been reported in three states so far this year, U.S. health officials say.

The cases occurred in California, Illinois and Massachusetts and involved three types of bacteria, said Brandi Limbago, a lab chief at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Associated Press reported.

She said the CDC wants doctors to be on the lookout for the NDM-1 gene, especially in people who have recently traveled to India or Pakistan.

Cases of people with the gene have been reported worldwide, mostly in bacteria that cause intestinal or urinary infections.

"It's a great concern," Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia, told the AP. He added that it's "just a matter of time" until the gene spreads more widely among people.


Legalize Embryonic Stem Cell Funding: Senator

A bill that would legalize federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and take priority over conflicting court decisions was introduced Monday by Sen. Arlen Specter.

The Pennsylvania Democrat said that even a temporary halt of federal funding while courts consider the issue disrupts research into the use of embryonic stem cells to treat a wide range of diseases such as muscular dystrophy, liver failure, heart disease and sickle cell anemia, the Associated Press reported.

Specter noted that the National Institutes of Health has spent $546 million on embryonic stem cell research and "phenomenal progress has already been made."

Similar legislation has been introduced by other Senate and House members, but it's uncertain whether lawmakers will have the time or will to tackle the subject before Congress breaks for the fall elections, the AP reported.

On Friday, U.S. government officials announced that researchers at the National Institutes of Health will resume working with embryonic stem cells after an appeals court issued a temporary suspension of a judge's recent ban.

Late last month, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research violated a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for such work. The Obama administration has appealed that decision.


Judge Holds Health Reform Lawsuit Hearing

A federal judge in Florida was scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a lawsuit against the U.S. government's health care reform law.

The Obama administration wants U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to dismiss the lawsuit that claims the new law is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit was filed by Florida's Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum immediately after President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into law in March.

The White House and the 20 states involved in the lawsuit disagree over the part of the law that imposes tax penalties on people who don't have health insurance and the requirement that states pay additional Medicaid costs not covered by the federal government, the AP reported.

It's believed the lawsuit will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, the news service said.



Chlorinated Swimming Pools May Increase Cancer Risk: Study

Swimming in chlorinated pools may be associated with an increased risk of cancer, a small, new study contends.

Spanish researchers found evidence of DNA mutations in 49 healthy adults after they swam for 40 minutes in an indoor chlorinated pool, Agence France-Presse reported.

The findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives should not discourage people from using swimming pools, said Manolis Kogevinas, co-director of the Barcelona-based Center of Research in Environmental Epidemiology.

"In no case do we want to stop swimming, but to encourage the reduction of chemicals in swimming pools," he said, AFP reported.

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Posted: September 2010