Health & WellnessS


Two die in Spain from human variant of mad cow disease

Two people in Spain have died of the human variant of mad cow disease, in the first such fatalities since 2005, officials said Monday.

The victims were aged 40 and 51 and lived in the central Castilla-Leon region. One died in December and the other in February, said Jose Javier Castrodeza, director of public health at the regional government. Until now Spain's only fatality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease came in 2005 with the death of a 26-year-old woman in Madrid.

Magic Wand

New study finds anticipating a laugh reduces our stress hormones

In 2006 researchers investigating the interaction between the brain, behavior, and the immune system found that simply anticipating a mirthful laughter experience boosted health-protecting hormones. Now, two years later, the same researchers have found that the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience also reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones. According to Dr. Lee Berk, the study team's lead researcher of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, "Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay well."


Stem cells made to mimic disease

Scientists have taken skin cells from patients with eight different diseases and turned them into stem cells.

The advance means scientists are moving closer to using stem cells from the patient themselves to treat disease.


Binge drinking 'damages memory'

Binge drinking teenagers are still at risk of absent-mindedness and forgetfulness days later, a study says. A team from Northumbria and Keele universities compared 26 binge drinkers with 34 non-bingers in memory tests, and found the drinkers fared worse.

They told the British Psychological Society conference that binge drinking could be harming developing brains. A spokesman for the charity Addaction said drinking at dangerous levels was putting some young people at risk.


Medicine mix-ups harm hospitalized kids

Medicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions harm roughly one out of 15 hospitalized children, according to the first scientific test of a new detection method.


Research finds teens who have TV in their bedroom are less likely to engage in healthy habits

University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers have found that older adolescents who have a bedroom television are less likely to engage in healthy activities such as exercising, eating fruits or vegetables, and enjoying family meals. They also consumed larger quantities of sweetened beverages and fast food, were categorized as heavy TV watchers, and read or studied less than teens without TVs in their bedrooms.


Drug Makers Near Old Goal: A Legal Shield

For years, Johnson & Johnson obscured evidence that its popular Ortho Evra birth control patch delivered much more estrogen than standard birth control pills, potentially increasing the risk of blood clots and strokes, according to internal company documents.

But because the Food and Drug Administration approved the patch, the company is arguing in court that it cannot be sued by women who claim that they were injured by the product - even though its old label inaccurately described the amount of estrogen it released.

This legal argument is called pre-emption. After decades of being dismissed by courts, the tactic now appears to be on the verge of success, lawyers for plaintiffs and drug companies say.


Tranquillisers putting children's lives at risk

New evidence has shown children's lives are being put at risk by a surge in the use of controversial tranquillising drugs which are being prescribed to control their behaviour, the Guardian has learned.

The anti-psychotic drugs are being given to youngsters under the age of six even though the drugs have no licence for use in children except in certain schizophrenia cases, the report says.


Australian University succumbs to drug company pressure

Senior academics are outraged that the University of Queensland has asked an academic to apologise to a drug company for his public comments on the cervical cancer vaccine developed jointly by the university and the company.

Academics at the university and elsewhere say the request is a threat to academic freedom and warn that it raises worrying concerns about universities' independence and ability to negotiate conflicts of interest.


UK: Vaccines are like Russian roulette - we'd rather take a chance with the diseases, say parents who refuse to give their babies jabs

When Max Sullivan was born two years ago, his father Paul, a 41-year-old IT consultant, and his accountant mother Karen, 34, were prepared for their first foray into parenthood.

"We bought the best pram we could, a Bugaboo. It's like a tank," says Paul.

"We checked toys were safe and bought stair-gates and caps for the corners of the tables for when he started walking.

"And when he was two months old we followed the doctor's orders and took him for his first set of immunisations: the five-in-one jab that combines the DPT - diphtheria, pertissus (whooping cough) and tetanus, polio and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccines.