Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
VA Will Review Gulf War Vets' Disability Claims
A change in U.S. government policy could lead to compensation for thousands of Gulf War veterans suffering from health problems they blame on their war service.
The Veterans Affairs Department announced Thursday that it will take another look at the disability claims of veterans with what's commonly called "Gulf War illness," which includes symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, rashes, sleep problems and gastrointestinal complaints, the Associated Press reported.
Over the years, about 175,000 to 210,000 Gulf War vets have experienced such health issues, but many have been told their symptoms are imaginary, the Associated Press reported.
The change in policy is a major shift in how the VA treats these Gulf War veterans.
"I'm hoping they'll be enthused by the fact that this ... challenges all the assumptions that have been there for 20 years," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told the AP.
Ancient Egyptian Priests Had Atherosclerosis: Study
The food of the gods may have been deadly for ancient Egyptian priests, says a new study.
British researchers translated inscriptions on the walls of Egyptian temples and learned that priests offered the gods three daily meals of foods such as beef, goose, bread, fruit, vegetables, cake, wine and beer. After the ritual offerings, the priests took the food home, BBC News reported.
Much of the food had a high fat content. For example, goose meat is 63 percent fat, with 20 percent of it saturated fat. Bread was often enriched with fat, milk and eggs. And much of the food likely had a high level of salt, a widely used preservative.
The researchers also reviewed findings from medical scans and analyses of more than 60 mummies and said there was clear evidence of blocked arteries and arterial damage among priests and their families, BBC News reported.
"There is unequivocal evidence to show that atherosclerosis is a disease of ancient times, induced by diet, and that the epidemic of atherosclerosis which began in the 20th Century is nothing more than history revisiting us," said study co-author Professor Tony Heagerty, of the Cardiovascular Research Group at Manchester University, England.
The study appears in The Lancet.
Medical Scan Makers Propose System to Cut Radiation Risks
Makers of CT scanners and other medical imaging technologies announced Thursday that they have devised a new system aimed at shielding patients from overexposure to radiation.
The move comes after several reports of potentially carcinogenic exposures, the Associated Press reported. For example, in 2009, Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles revealed that more than 200 patients had received very high levels of radiation during scans aimed at detecting whether a person had suffered a stroke.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has since said it has heard similar reports from other states, and the agency notes that radiation from one CT abdomen scan equals that of 400 chest X-rays. High radiation doses can raise the risk of cancer.
The new initiative, by manufacturers such as General Electric, Siemens AG and Toshiba Corp., comes ahead of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Friday looking into the issue, the AP noted.
David Fisher, executive director of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), told the AP that companies will begin updating software on CT equipment later this year. The new technology will let technicians know when radiation doses climb to dangerously high levels. Fisher said his group is in talks with the FDA as to whether the new software requires agency approval.
Pet Turtles Caused Salmonella Outbreak: Study
Small pet turtles caused an outbreak of 135 human salmonella infections in 25 states and the District of Columbia between March and November 2008, says a report released Thursday.
Salmonella infections can cause serious illness in young children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems. Many of the salmonella infections in the 2008 outbreak occurred in young children.
The report authors found that young children without direct exposure to turtles are at risk for turtle-associated salmonella infection through person-to-person transmission in child care facilities.
The report appears in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While a 1975 U.S. law forbidding the sale of turtles with a shell length of less than four inches resulted in a major decrease in the number of human salmonella infections caused by pet turtles, these types of infections continue to occur, the researchers noted.
They called for increased enforcement of existing local, state and federal regulations against the sale of small turtles, increased penalties for illegal sales and more local and state laws regulating the sale of small turtles.
U.S. Health Agencies Hope to Speed Development of New Medical Advances
A new program will help U.S. health officials make speedier decisions about the safety and effectiveness of new products and procedures in fields of advanced research, such as stem cell therapy, genomics and nanotechnology.
The plan was announced Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Laboratory science leading to new treatments is far ahead of regulatory science, noted officials from both agencies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Under the new program, a six-member council will work with top scientists from the FDA and NIH to ensure that the latest science is included in the regulatory review process.
In addition, the agencies will provide $6.75 million in grants for regulatory science research over three years.
One of the new program's goals is to speed up the process for testing the potency of flu vaccines. The process currently takes three to four months, but it may be possible to cut that in half, FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley told the Times.