Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Psychiatrists Debate Classifying Grief as Treatable Disorder
Grieving could become a treatable psychiatric disorder if
proposed changes to the American Psychiatric Association's standard
diagnostic manual get adopted.
Work on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, has launched a debate about the
definition of depression. The current wording excludes bereavement,
which some psychiatrists say hurts people who need help coping with
The DSM, last revised in 1996, is the major resource for
psychiatric professionals and a source of many insurance decisions,
affecting millions of people.
"There is the potential for considerable false-positive diagnosis and unnecessary treatment of grief-stricken persons," said New York researchers on one side of the debate, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief of psychology at Maimonides Medical
Center, New York City, agreed. In a statement, he said that
"Grieving is a healthy process. Sometimes we need to treat those
who have suffered a loss with sleep aids or other medications, but
to make this process a medical condition that would enable large
scale prescribing of drugs would be a travesty," he said.
However, another expert supports the new terminology.
"Depression can and does occur in the wake of bereavement, it can
be severe and debilitating, and calling it by any other name is
doing a disservice to people who may require more careful
attention," Dr. Sidney Zisook, a professor of psychiatry at the
University of California, San Diego, told the newspaper.
Currently, to qualify for a diagnosis of depression, five of
nine symptoms are needed for at least two weeks. These include loss
of concentration, sleeping too much or too little, feelings of
worthlessness and recurrent thoughts of suicide.
Other proposed changes to the manual have also stirred
controversy. Experts last week argued against a proposal to tighten
the autism definition, noting that the change would bar many
currently diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder from
receiving important services.
No Whooping Cough Deaths in California Last Year
For the first time in two decades, there were no whooping cough
(pertussis) deaths in California last year, officials announced
Ten babies in the state died of whooping cough in 2010. The last
year in which there were no whooping cough deaths in the state was
The number of whooping cough cases in California also fell by
two-thirds, from a high of 9,000 in 2010 to less than 3,000 in
The decrease in cases and deaths is due to wider availability of
vaccines, quicker diagnosis, greater awareness of the disease, and
a new law requiring booster shots for middle- and high-school
students, said Dr. Gil Chavez, the California Department of Public
Health epidemiologist and deputy director for infectious diseases,
Cancer Vaccine Trial Begins
An early-stage clinical trial of an experimental cancer vaccine
is being conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in
Reseachers say the vaccine is designed to harness the power of
the immune system to kill cancer cells. The vaccine will be made at
Roswell in a specially designed production unit that's been
approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the
Associated Press reported.
To create the vaccine, immune system cells called dendritic
cells are taken from the patient's body, bonded with a protein, and
then re-injected into the patient. Patients also receive a compound
found to prolong the vaccine's effectiveness.
The phase 1 study will include about 18 to 20 patients with
different types of cancers, the
Less Salt, More Grains, Veggies in School Lunches: USDA
School lunches subsidized by the U.S. government will have less
salt, more whole grains, and more fruits and vegetables as sides
under new guidelines expected to be announced Wednesday.
The new rules are the first major nutritional overhaul of school
meals in 15 years. Some of the changes could take place soon as the
next school year, while others will be phased in over time. A child
nutrition bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 would help
school districts pay for some of the increased costs, the
Associated Press reported.
Due to strong opposition from Republicans and the food industry,
the new nutrition rules won't be as strong as initially proposed by
the Obama administration.
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
were scheduled to announce the new guidelines at an elementary
school in Alexandria, Va.
Studies Show Link Between Brown Fat and Cold and Exercise
A form of brown fat that's switched on when people are cold
sucks fat out of the rest of the body to fuel itself, while another
type of brown fat can be created from white fat by exercise,
according to two new studies.
The findings suggest that being able to achieve this without
making people cold or forcing them to exercise all the time could
offer a highly-effective way to lose weight,
The New York Times reported.
In one study, researchers found that the metabolic rate of men
who were kept chilled increased by 80 percent due to effects of
brown fat. On average, the brown fat burned about 250 calories over
The study was published in the
Journal of Clinical Investigation.
In the other study, researchers conducted experiments with mice
and found that exercise causes white fat to turn into brown fat.
Exercise causes muscles to release a hormone that converts white
fat cells into brown fat cells, which burn extra calories,
The Times reported.
The researchers suspect this also occurs in humans.
Insulated Lunch Boxes and Thermal Food Carriers Recalled
About 248,000 expandable insulated lunch boxes with freezer gel
packs are being recalled because the gel can leak out of damaged
packs and pose a poisoning hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
The lunch boxes were made in China, imported by California
Innovations Inc. of Toronto, Canada and sold at Costco Wholesale
Clubs, Leon Korol and Cost U Less stores from May 2007 through
September 2008, the
Associated Press reported.
The gel in the gel packs contains diethylene glycol and ethylene
glycol. California Innovations has received two separate reports of
dogs chewing the packs and ingesting the gel. One dog died and the
other received treatment and recovered.
The CPSC said the recalled lunch boxes have a logo and the words
"Ci Sport" on the upper left corner, the
Concerns about the freezer gel packs have also led to the recall
of about 55,000 Travelin' Chef Expandable thermal food carriers
also made in China and imported by California Innovations. They
were sold at Walmart from August 2008 through December 2011.
For more information, contact California Innovations at
1-800-722-2545 Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.