Health Updates 21 February 2012

  • Teens’ concussion risk not limited to football: “Although football has been in the spotlight when it comes to high school athletes’ concussions, other sports carry a risk as well, a new study shows.  Between 2008 and 2010, researchers found, US high school athletes suffered concussions at a rate of 2.5 for every 10,000 times they hit the playing field.  Nearly half – 47 percent – happened in football.  But girls’ soccer and basketball, and boys’ wrestling, ice hockey and lacrosse were among the other sports with a risk of head injury.  Just over eight percent of all concussions happened in girls soccer, while girls’ basketball and boys’ wrestling accounted for almost six percent each.  Boys’ ice hockey accounted for fewer total concussions, but it beat all other sports when it came to proportion: Of all injuries to boys in ice hockey, 22 percent were concussions.  Most of the head injuries happened when players collided with each other.  But even some kids in non-contact sports – like softball, gymnastics, cheerleading and swimming – suffered blows to the head.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Aspirin shows promise in limiting cancer for women who have HIV, scientists say: “Aspirin should be evaluated for its potential to prevent cervical cancer in women infected with HIV, say scientists who recently reported a connection between the virus and inflammation of cervical tissue.  Their study, published last month in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, found that the virus that causes AIDS also drives up production of a prostaglandin called PGE2 in cervical tissue.  PGE2 is linked to inflammation and the development of tumors.  Aspirin is a powerful blocker of a chemical called COX-2 that allows prostaglandins to be formed.  Therefore, the authors suggested that a large study be carried out to see if low-dose aspirin could prevent cervical cancer in women at high risk of getting it.” (NY Times)
  • Respiratory virus killed 8 military recruits after vaccination program halted: Adenovirus infections caused eight deaths in the US military since an immunization program was canceled, according to a new study.  Adenoviruses are frequent causes of respiratory disease in the United States.  There are dozens of strains of adenovirus, many of which do not cause serious illness. Adenoviruses, for example, often cause symptoms of the common cold.  However, certain strains can cause life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.  A vaccination program against adenovirus types 4 and 7 was launched in 1971 and ended in 1999 after the only manufacturer of the vaccine ceased production.  A new vaccination program began in October 2011….’The population at greatest risk for adenovirus-associated disease is military recruits,’ the researchers wrote. ‘Most recruits are young men, and the deaths reported here occurred at the recruits’ training centers’.” The military medical community is hoping that the productive effect of the vaccines will extend beyond types 4 and 7.  (NIH/MedlinePlus)
  • Hepatitis C bigger killer than HIV: “More Americans now die from hepatitis C infection than from HIV, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.  The rate of HIV deaths has been falling while the rate for Hepatitis C has been rising and the two curves crossed each other in 2007….Most of those with the disease [Hepatitis C] do not know they are infected and they are now reaching the age with they are at risk for hepatitis-related diseases and death….Preventing the long-term consequences of hepatitis C – liver disease and cancer – ‘is now achievable if our collective will evolve as rapidly as our pharmacologic skill’.”  Better screening for hepatitis C will help. (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)

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