Exploring Cost-Effectiveness of HPV Vaccine
Vaccinating girls and young women ages 12 to 21 against cancer-causing human papillomavirus would be a cost-effective way to combat the disease, suggests a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Gardasil vaccine is currently approved for females ages 9 to 26 to prevent four strains of HPV responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers. The new research also suggests that screening guidelines be revised. Because of the data source, however, some experts question the advisability of implementing widespread vaccination programs against the virus.
"For this generation of teenagers, we're not going to have data for the next 15 or 20 years on how effective it [a cervical cancer vaccine] is, what it changes about the dynamics of cervical cancer, how long the vaccine lasts, whether you can then extrapolate this to decreasing screening guidelines," Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay. "We need more long-term data from this generation of girls getting vaccinated now [to] make decisions on a population basis."
Skin Cancer Might Have Its Own Smell
Researchers have discovered an "odor profile" for skin cancer, and they hope it might eventually lead to a simple, noninvasive test to diagnose the most common form of skin cancer in the United States. Scientists were able to differentiate healthy odor profiles from cancerous ones by identifying unique smells generated by naturally occurring chemicals in healthy and diseased tissue. In the study, researchers sampled the air above back and forearm areas among 25 healthy men and women ages 19 to 80. They then tested the air above tumor sites in 11 basal cell carcinoma patients, as well as above the disease-free skin of 11 healthy volunteers. They found that cancerous tissue and healthy tissue contained different chemical "recipes," resulting in different smells.
Are Your Dental Fillings Safe?
Dental fillings with silver amalgam contain about 50 percent mercury, with the remaining material made from a powder of silver, tin, zinc, and copper. Some experts are concerned that the release of microscopic amounts of mercury vapor—a consequence of chewing food, grinding teeth, and exposing the fillings to hot substances—might cause neurological problems or kidney damage, particularly in sensitive populations, such as children and pregnant women. Others, including the American Dental Association, say the safety data are reassuring. The Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look, Matthew Shulman reports.
Earlier this year, U.S. News presented its guide to a healthy smile.
A Young Woman’s Battle With HIV
A new autobiography, The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive, describes Marvelyn Brown's life after an HIV diagnosis at age 19. The Tennessee native is now an HIV activist who has traveled internationally to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and America's Next Top Model. She was hospitalized with pneumonia in 2003 when doctors discovered she had HIV during a battery of tests, a mere three weeks after she had been infected. U.S. News talked with Brown about HIV and life since her diagnosis. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women ages 25 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2006.
—January W. Payne