Health & Wellness


Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe Is Crossing Borders

© Sky News
Women and children collect clean water from a UNICEF truck in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Graphic images of bodies stacked in the bathrooms of crumbling Zimbabwean hospitals and of hundreds of cholera-stricken victims fleeing across the border for medical treatment in South Africa have sparked fears that the epidemic in Zimbabwe is spinning out of control.

FOX News' sister network, SKY News, has obtained disturbing video showing just how bad it is: bodies of cholera victims piled up in a bathroom in the nation's capital, Harare, and makeshift hospitals on the border of South Africa treating patients who are close to death.


Epilepsy Drug May Raise Autism Risk in Offspring

Women taking the epilepsy drug valproate while pregnant are at increased risk of delivering a child who develops autism.

The British findings, appearing in the Dec. 2 issue of Neurology, add to previous research showing that valproate and other anti-epilepsy drugs can contribute to birth defects (particularly neural tube defects).

"There's a fair amount of early data that indicates, for instance, that valproate may cause neural tube closure problems. That's an indication that valproate affects brain development," said Dr. Michel Berg, medical director of the Strong Epilepsy Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "That's an indication that valproate affects brain development. It's not surprising that it might affect other aspects of brain development."


FDA orders suicidal action warning on epilepsy drugs

Washington - Makers of epilepsy drugs must add a warning that the medicines carry a risk of suicidal thoughts or actions, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

The companies also must develop a patient-friendly guide explaining risks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.

Analysis of 199 clinical trials of 11 anti-epileptic drugs found twice the risk of suicidal behavior or thoughts with the drugs compared to a placebo, the FDA said.


New rule for health providers stirs objections

Washington - The Bush administration, in its final days, has issued a federal rule reinforcing protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures because of religious or moral objections.

Critics of the rule say the protections are so broad that they limit a patient's right to get care and accurate information. For example, they fear the rule could make it possible for a pharmacy clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills and face no ramifications from an employer.

Under longstanding federal law, institutions may not discriminate against individuals who refuse to perform abortions or provide a referral for one. The administration's rule, issued Thursday, is intended to ensure that federal funds don't flow to providers who violate those laws.


Experts urge safety probe of plastics chemicals

U.S. regulators should examine whether a controversial class of chemicals found in many plastic products including children's toys can hurt people, a panel of experts said on Thursday.

A panel of the independent National Research Council said the scientific evidence justifies an Environmental Protection Agency assessment of the health effects from cumulative exposure to chemicals known as phthalates.

Phthalates, which make plastic products soft and flexible, have been used commercially for decades. They are different from another chemical, bisphenol A, or BPA, found in plastic products including baby bottles that has also come under health scrutiny. The Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe at current levels of exposure but plans more research.

Animal studies cited by the panel indicated that exposure to phthalates affected male reproductive system development. Some phthalates reduce levels of the male hormone testosterone. Studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, the panel said.


Truth About Give And Take In Social Situations: The More You Take The More You Lose

In everyday social exchanges, being mean to people has a lot more impact than being nice, research at the University of Chicago has shown.

Feeling slighted can have a bigger difference on how a person responds than being the recipient of perceived generosity, even if the net value of the social transaction is the same, the research on reciprocity - giving and taking - shows.

"Negative reciprocity, or taking, escalates," said Boaz Keysar, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and lead author of the paper "Reciprocity is Not Give and Take: Asymmetric Reciprocity to Positive and Negative Acts," published in Psychological Science. The study was based on giving-and-taking games conducted on students and people in downtown Chicago.

The games provided data on how people respond to give-and-take social exchanges.

"For instance in driving, if you are kind and let someone go in front of you, that driver may be considerate in response. But if you cut someone off, that person may react very aggressively, and this could escalate to road rage," Keysar said.

Heart - Black

Children and Teenagers Found to Have Arteries of Middle Aged Adults

Many people have the idea that they can enjoy life in their younger years, eat and drink whatever they want, do whatever they like, and not have to worry about diseases or illnesses until they are much older. Well, the evidence is building up against such a mentality. In a small study which was presented at the American Heart Association's recent annual meeting in New Orleans, researchers took a peek inside the neck arteries of a group of children and teens. Alarmingly, they saw cardiovascular systems which looked more like they belonged to middle-aged 45 year olds.


Personality disorders plague US adults

Statistics show one in every five college-aged American suffers a personality disorder, interfering with his/her everyday life routine.

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, mental disorders including obsessive compulsive, anti-social and paranoid behavior are seen in 25 percent of college-aged Americans for which only a small group receive necessary treatment.

The study revealed that nearly half of these individuals are affected with a psychiatric condition when alcohol and drug abuse are also taken into account. Substance abuse, interfering with the individual's school or work, affects nearly one-third of these individuals.


How biology can contribute to criminal behaviour

Crime may be an unusual topic for a medical column but is a growing area of scientific research.

The various contributions of biological factors or "nature" versus the social environment, "nurture", is hotly debated. New brain scanning techniques and quick and affordable genetic testing is rapidly improving our understanding of the science behind crime.

The brains of people who undertake serious or sexual crimes seem to differ in a number of ways.

A controversial study from Yale University used MRI scans to compare the brains of paedophiles and those convicted of non-sexual crimes. Paedophiles had significantly less of a substance called "white matter" that connects six areas of the brain known to play a role in sexual arousal.


FDA Stuns Scientists, Declares Mercury in Fish to be Safe for Infants, Children, Expectant Mothers!

In a truly astonishing betrayal of public safety (even for the FDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today revoked its warning about mercury in fish, saying that eating mercury-contaminated fish no longer poses any health threat to children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants.

Last week, the FDA declared trace levels of melamine to be safe in infant formula. A few weeks earlier, it said the plastics chemical Bisphenol-A was safe for infants to drink. Now it says children can eat mercury, too. Is there any toxic substance in the food that the FDA thinks might be dangerous? (Aspartame, MSG, sodium nitrite and now mercury...)

This FDA decision on mercury in fish has alarmed EPA scientists who called it "scientifically flawed and inadequate," reports the Washington Post. Even better, the Environmental Working Group issued a letter to the EPA, saying "It's a commentary on how low FDA has sunk as an agency. It was once a fierce protector of America's health, and now it's nothing more than a patsy for polluters."