Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Pavement Sealant Chemicals Tracked Indoors: Study
Toxic chemicals from a substance used to seal pavement, driveways and parking lots across the United States get tracked into homes and may pose a potential health threat.
Coal tar sealant -- a waste product of steel manufacturing that's a known carcinogen -- slowly wears off and is carried into homes on the shoes of residents, say U.S. Geological Survey scientists, MSNBC reported.
The researchers found that house dust contained high levels of chemicals used in the sealant. They said their findings raise concerns about the use of coal tar as a sealant.
"This is the kind of thing where, when you give a presentation, people's eyes get big -- even scientists'," said Barbara Mahler, a hydrologist who directed the research, MSNBC said.
The study was published Monday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Why People Are Happier on Weekends
People are happier on weekends for two main reasons, say U.S. researchers.
"Why weekends are better are the two factors of autonomy and relatedness," said study co-author Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester in New York, USA Today reported.
"There's more connection with other people and more self-direction. Wherever you don't have autonomy or don't feel relatedness, your well-being will be lower," Ryan explained.
The study included 74 adults, ages 18 to 62, who worked at least 30 hours a week. For three weeks, they were randomly asked three times a day about how they were feeling. All the participants felt better emotionally and physically from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, regardless of gender, age, education, marital status, salary or how many hours they work, USA Today reported.
The study was published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
Veterans' Suicide Rate Increases 26 Percent
From 2005 to 2007, the suicide rate among 18- to 29-year old males who've left the U.S. military increased 26 percent, according to preliminary data released Monday by the Veterans Affairs Department.
In 2007, the suicide rate for this group was 56.77 per 100,000, compared with 44.99 per 100,000 in 2005. The numbers were calculated using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures from 16 states, the Associated Press reported.
One positive finding was that veterans in this group who used VA health care in 2007 were less likely to commit suicide than those who did not. That wasn't the case in 2005.
The VA needs to improve its understanding of what leads to these suicides, and VA facilities need more stringent protocols about how to handle a potentially suicidal veteran, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said Monday at a conference about the issue, the AP reported.
Veterans account for about 20 percent of suicides committed each year in the U.S., he noted.
Baseball Great Admits to Steroid Use
Baseball great Mark McGwire admitted on Monday that he was using steroids when he slammed a record-breaking 70 homeruns while playing in 1998.
The confession, sent in a statement to the Associated Press, comes right before he is set to join the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training camp as a batting coach.
"It's very emotional, it's telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it's former teammates to try to get a hold of, you know, that I'm coming clean and being honest," he said during a 20-minute telephone interview with the wire service, his voice repeatedly cracking. "It's the first time they've ever heard me, you know, talk about this. I hid it from everybody."
He repeatedly stressed that his use of steroids was caused by his desire to overcome injuries, get back on the field and prove he was worth his multimillion salary.
Asian Firms Warned Against Using Toxins in Toys
Asian manufacturers shouldn't try to substitute other toxic substances for lead in children's jewelry and other items sold in the United States, says the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
U.S. law forbids the use of lead in children's toys and jewelry.
In taped remarks to be delivered Tuesday in Hong Kong, Inez Tenenbaum warned that her agency would keep a close watch on the imported products, the Associated Press reported.
"I would highly encourage all of you to ensure that toy manufacturers and children's product manufacturers in your country are not substituting cadmium, antimony, barium, in place of lead," Tenenbaum said in a transcript of a speech to children's products manufacturers, exporters and regulators. "All of us should be committed to keeping hazardous or toxic levels of heavy metals out of ... toys and children's products."
On Sunday, the AP reported that some Chinese manufacturers substitute cadmium for lead in inexpensive charm bracelets and pendants sold in the United States. That prompted U.S. officials to launch an investigation.
Along with being a known carcinogen, cadmium can hinder brain development in very young children. Youngsters can get persistent, low-level doses of cadmium by biting or sucking jewelry with a high level of the toxic metal.
Mental Health Issues Up for High School, College Students
Compared to the 1930s, five times as many American high school and college students are struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues, according to a new study.
Researchers reviewed the responses of 77,576 high school or college students who completed the Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory questionnaire between 1938 and 2007, the Associated Press reported.
The findings showed that, overall, an average of five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with students in 1938. In two areas, six times as many students in 2007 scored much higher in two areas:
- The rate of hypomania (a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism) was found in 31 percent of students in 2007, compared with 5 percent in 1938.
- The rate of depression among students was 6 percent in 2007 and 1 percent in 1938.
The study also found that 24 percent of students in 2007 scored high in a category called "psychopathic deviation" -- defined as having trouble with authority and feeling that rules don't apply to you -- compared with 5 percent of students in 1938, the AP reported.
The findings were released Monday, and the study will appear in a future issue of the journal Clinical Psychology Review.