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Health Updates 6 December 2011

  • Court says some donors of stem cells can be paid: “A federal appeals court ruling on Thursday could make it easier for patients with diseases like leukemia to find matching bone marrow donors.  The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that a federal law prohibiting payment for donated organs did not apply to stem cells extracted from circulating blood.  ‘The statute does not prohibit compensation for donations of blood and the substances in it, which include peripheral blood stem cells’, Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.  The lawsuit was brought against the federal government by a coalition that included patients seeking bone marrow transplants…”. (NY Times)
  • Small business owner at the center of case against health care mandate declares bankruptcy: Without owning a business, it could be harder for Ms. Brown to argue she is harmed by the legislation.  Meanwhile, her recent financial woes suggest the possibility she would be exempt from penalties for noncompliance with the individual mandate.  That raises questions about whether the suit can be based on her experience.” (Wall Street Journal)
  • Studying left-handed people for clues to brain disorders:  “Left-handers have been the subject of curiosity, stigma and even fear over the centuries.  Researchers, now, however are recognizing the scientific importance of understanding why people use one hand or the other to write, eat or toss a ball.  Handedness, as the dominance of one hand over the other is called, provides a window into the way our brains are wired, experts say.  And it may help shed light on disorders related to brain development, like dyslexia, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which are more common in left-handed people”. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Fish oil supplement quality spotty: “Fish oil supplements can be a bit fishy in terms of quality, according to Consumer Reports magazine.  In lab tests of the 15 major brands, the magazine said, ‘six fell a bit short on quality’.  ‘In our recent tests, we found that some [supplements] were not as pure as one might think’, the magazine’s health editor, Ronni Sandroff, said in a statement.”  Fish oil supplements are a thriving business, largely because of the health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids which reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.  The shortfalls noted by CR included high PCB levels, spoilage and fishy aftertaste.  (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)
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