Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Breast Implants May Be Linked to Rare Cancer: FDA
There may be a link between saline and silicone breast implants
and a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma
(ALCL), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
A review of scientific literature published between January 1997
and May 2010 suggests that women with these breast implants may
have a very small but significant risk of ALCL in the scar capsule
next to the implant. The review identified 34 unique cases of ALCL
in women with either saline and silicone breast implants.
The agency is asking health-care professionals to report any
confirmed cases of ALCL in patients with breast implants. To ensure
that women clearly understand the possible risk, the FDA will work
with breast implant manufacturers to update their product labeling
for patients and health-care professionals.
In addition, the FDA is teaming with experts to create a breast
implant registry to better understand the development of ALCL in
women with breast implants.
Cognitive Disorders Affect Five Percent of U.S. Seniors:
Just over five percent of seniors in the United States report
one or more cognitive disorder, such as senility or dementia, says
a federal government report.
The analysis of data from the nearly 39 million Americans who
were age 65 and older in 2007 also found that those age 85 and
older were most likely to report one or more cognitive disorder
(18.4 percent), compared to those ages 75 to 84 (6 percent) and
those ages 65 to 74 (1.1 percent).
One or more cognitive disorders were more likely to be reported
by seniors with less than a high school education (8.6 percent)
than those who completed high school (4.9 percent) or those with
more than a high school education (2.7 percent), said the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
The report also said that one or more cognitive disorders were
- Nearly 8 percent of poor seniors and 4.1 percent of middle- and
- Nearly 11 percent of seniors with both Medicare and another
type of supplemental public insurance, 5 percent of seniors with
Medicare only, and 4.1 percent of seniors with Medicare and
supplemental private insurance.
Average yearly health expenses were $15,549 for seniors who
reported one or more cognitive disorders and $9,019 for seniors
without a cognitive disorder.
Winter Storms Lead to Depleted Blood Supply: Red Cross
The American Red Cross is appealing for blood donors to help
restore its blood supply, which has been depleted after severe
weather in much of the eastern United States in recent weeks caused
the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet
The impact of the storms on the national inventory management
system -- which moves blood products to where they're most needed
-- has been huge. The Red Cross said it has been 10 years since its
blood supply dropped this dramatically at this time of year.
More winter weather and a possible coastal storm are being
"Maintaining sufficient blood to meet patient needs is a delicate balance between supply and demand," Chief Medical Officer Richard Benjamin said in a Red Cross news release. "When severe weather disrupts that balance, the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and help make up the deficit."
All eligible donors in areas unaffected by winter storms are
asked to make an appointment to give blood or platelets within the
coming days, while those in affected areas are asked to donate when
it is safe to travel.
No Turning Back on Health Care Reform: Obama
While he recognizes there is opposition to the extension of
insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, President Barack
Obama says he is not willing to return to a situation where private
insurers can deny coverage.
The expansion of insurance coverage is part of the new health
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama also said he
wants to work with Congress to further cut health care costs,
including state reforms to the medical malpractice system, the
Associated Press reported.
However, he doesn't support a Republican proposal to cap payouts
in malpractice suits, something that would offer major savings but
is opposed by trial lawyers.
Weed Sap Appears Effective Against Skin Cancer: Study
Sap from a weed called petty spurge may help treat non-melanoma
skin cancers, according to a new study.
It included 36 patients with a total of 48 non-melanoma skin
cancer lesions who had the sap of petty spurge (
Euphorbia peplus) applied to their skin once a day for three days, BBC News reported.
After one month, 41 of the 48 lesions showed a complete
response, which means that clinical examination revealed no trace
of the tumor. Patients who experienced only a partial response to
the sap were offered a second round of treatment.
After an average of 15 months, 30 of the 48 lesions (68.5
percent) still showed a complete response,
BBC News reported.
The authors of the study, published in the
British Journal of Dermatology, warned people not to try the treatment at home because it is still experimental and can cause skin irritation.
Petty spurge is present in many areas of the world, including
North America and Europe. The plant's sap has been used for
centuries as a traditional medicine.
Blood Thinner Plavix to Retain Patent for Extra 6 Months
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted the makers of
the widely used blood thinner Plavix (clopidogrel) exclusive
marketing rights for an extra six months.
According to the
Associated Press the patent extension is set to end on May
17, 2012, after which cheaper generic forms of clopidogrel are
allowed to appear.
The FDA allowed Bristol-Myers Squibb and partner Sanofi-Aventis
the patent extension subsequent to their conducting extra research
into the drug's effect on infants, the
AP said. This type of extension is a kind of "reward" for
participating in these pediatric studies, the new agency noted. One
study looked at Plavix' effect on 900 infants born with a heart
defect that left them vulnerable to clots. The study failed to show
a benefit, however.