Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Toxicologist Believe It’s Time To Test Assumptions About Health Effects That Guide Risk Assessment


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From the 22 November Medical News Today article

Governments and the nuclear industry have failed to address serious data gaps and untested assumptions guiding exposure limits to Cesium (Cs)-137 released in the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and this year’s incident at Fukushima, says University of Massachusetts Amherst toxicologist Edward Calabrese. It’s time now to move toward adopting more evidence-based risk assessment for the future, he adds.

“It is also critical that the linear, no-threshold (LNT) model and the alternative models, such as the threshold and hormesis models, be objectively assessed so that society can be guided by scientific data and validated models rather than ideological perspectives that stealthily infected the risk assessment process for ionizing radiation and carcinogenic chemicals,” he states. …..


November 22, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stopping “Superbugs” In Their Tracks


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Stopping “Superbugs” In Their Tracks.

From the 22 November Medicine News Today article

University of Virginia Health System researchers are the first in the world to develop a new and faster method to track major infection-causing “superbugs” a major key in preventing the spread of deadly infections.

Their research, published in the November/December 2011 issue of the online journal mBio, comes at a critical time.

Several newly discovered genes such as KPC (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase) and NDM (New Delhi metallo-betalactamase) have experts on alert for several reasons:

— their ability to easily transform bacteria into antibiotic-resistant superbugs

— their unprecedented ability to cross over into different strains and species of bacteria

— the ease with which they can transfer to highly infectious bacteria, such as Salmonella andcholera and

— the potential for these genes to easily establish themselves undetected in our environment.

“When you’re in a race against time to halt the spread of these life-threatening infections, the traditional methods of detection and tracking are very difficult and frankly take too long,” says UVA Medical Center Epidemiologist Costi Sifri, MD, study principal investigator.

Decoding deadly hospital-acquired infections

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , | 1 Comment

Computer that can read promises cancer breakthroughs – Telegraph

Computer that can read promises cancer breakthroughs – Telegraph

From the 22 November 2011 article

A computer system that can read scientific papers in a similar way to humans promises breakthroughs in cancer research, according to Cambridge scientists.

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent

Called CRAB, the system is able to trawl through millions of peer-reviewed articles for clues to the causes of tumours. Already, it has uncovered a potential reason why some chemicals induce pancreatic cancer only in men.

CRAB is the latest implementation of a rapidly-emerging form of artificial intelligence called natural language processing, which is also used in the Siri personal assistant software in the iPhone 4S. It allows computers to read texts and derive meaning from them, despite their complexity and abiguities, as humans do.

The system will first be used to assess the risk that new chemicals could cause cancer.

“The first stage of any risk assessment is a literature review. It’s a major bottleneck,” said Dr Anna Korhonen of the University of Cambridge, who led the development of CRAB.

“There could be tens of thousands of articles for a single chemical. Performed manually, it’s expensive and, because of the rising number of publications, it’s becoming too challenging to manage,” she said.

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Medication Safety Booklet in Spanish and English | Health Information Literacy – for health and well being

Medication Safety Booklet in Spanish and English | Health Information Literacy – for health and well being.


The following was posted on the BHIC Blog; August 30, 2011.

by Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

AHRQ has released a revised Spanish-language medication safety booklet, “Su medicamento: Infórmese. Evite riesgos” (“Your Medicine: Be Smart. Be Safe.”) to help Spanish-speaking patients learn more about how to take medicines safely. The booklet includes a detachable, wallet-size card that can help patients keep track of medicines they are taking, including vitamins and herbal and other dietary supplements. Print copies are available by sending an e-mail to

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Nicotine is a Gateway Drug – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Photo of ashtray filled with cigarette stubs.

Why Nicotine is a Gateway Drug – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

From the 21 November article

A new study in mice shows how tobacco products could act as gateway drugs, opening the door to use of illicit drugs. Nicotine, the researchers found, makes the brain more susceptible to cocaine addiction. The finding suggests that lowering smoking rates in young people might help reduce cocaine abuse.

Photo of ashtray filled with cigarette stubs.

Scientists have long recognized that cigarettes and alcohol raise the risk for later use of illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine. In a recent national survey, over 90% of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine. Researchers suspected that nicotine exposure might increase vulnerability to cocaine. However, no one had identified a biological mechanism. A team of scientists, led by Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University and supported by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), set out to investigate.

In Science Translational Medicine on November 2, 2011, the scientists reported that mice given nicotine in their drinking water for 7 days showed increased activity in response to cocaine. The animals also had changes in a brain signaling process called long-term potentiation.


November 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | 4 Comments


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