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Health Updates 27 January 2012

  • French police detain founder of breast implant maker: “The founder of a French company that made hundreds of thousands of breast implants from industrial-grade silicone, causing anxiety among women around the world, was detained in a dawn raid on his home in southern France, the authorities said Thursday.  The founder, Jean-Claude Mas, could be held for questioning for 48 hours in a manslaughter investigation that began after a woman whose implants ruptured died from a rare form of cancer….The company Mr. Mas founded, Poly Implants Protheses, was closed by the authorities in March 2010 and liquidated, following revelations that it had used silicone that was industrial grade, not surgical grade, to save money on the hundreds of thousands of implants it sold to countries around the world.” (NY Times)
  • Active ingredient in Viagra shrunk disfiguring growths in kids: “A new preliminary report suggests that the active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil, could reduce the size of large growths that can disfigure the bodies of children.  The findings could point to yet another use for the medicine, which was first developed as a heart medication until researchers noticed that it helped impotent men have erections.  This time, researchers stumbled upon an alternate use while using a Viagra-like drug to treat a rare condition that causes high blood pressure in the arteries that lead to the lungs.” (HealthDay)
  • NIH to fund new learning disabilities research centers: “Funding for four centers to conduct research on the causes and treatment of learning disabilities in children and adolescents has been provided by the National Institutes of Health….Learning disabilities affect the way the brain processes information and can affect speaking, listening, reading or writing, or mathematics ability….the centers would increase their emphasis on understanding how individuals learn to write and the best ways to teach writing to both learning disabled and typically achieving children.  In the past, efforts to understand learning disabilities have concentrated more heavily on dyslexia, or reading impairment.” (NIH News)
  • Avastin may be helpful before breast cancer surgery: “The addition of the cancer-fighting medication Avastin to chemotherapy prior to breast cancer surgery increases the chance that all of the cancer will be removed, according to new research.  However, when looking at which patients might benefit the most from this therapy, two recent studies found conflicting results, and neither study was yet able to address whether or not the addition of Avastin (bevacizumab) early in the treatment process would improve survival rates.  Information of survival will be especially important for defining Avastin’s role in early breast cancer treatment.”  In November, 2011, the FDA revoked Avastin’s approval for treatment of breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. (HealthDay)
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