Health Buzz: Using Tobacco Against Norovirus and Other Health News

Magazine pictures may give parents bad advice; stem cells to treat heart failure.


Researchers Use Tobacco to Make Possible Norovirus Vaccine

Researchers announced Tuesday that they have used tobacco plants to create a potential vaccine for norovirus, a stomach virus known to strike cruise ship passengers and other people living in close quarters, causing nausea and diarrhea, Reuters reports. A team from Arizona State University induced a genetically modified plant to make a protein that the immune system recognizes as a virus, one member said at a news conference at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. The vaccine has not yet been tested in humans, according to Reuters.

Find out why scientists are saying chewing tobacco is as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes. Here are 12 reasons to really quit smoking and secrets of successful quitters.

What's Wrong With This Magazine Picture? Baby Is in Danger

Danger hides in these cozy scenes: an infant sleeping on its tummy on a plush sheepskin rug; twin newborns snoozing side by side in a crib; a crib decked with so many blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals that there's hardly any room for a baby. If you've thumbed through some popular parenting and women's magazines, chances are you've seen images depicting these or similar scenes. And while they might make for good photographs, they set bad examples for parents, experts say. Those situations, they say, are not safe for sleeping babies, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon reports.

Lyon offers a list of do's and don'ts from the American Academy of Pediatrics to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and protect your baby during sleep. The recommendations include putting babies to bed with pacifiers, which have been associated with a decreased risk of SIDS. It's still unclear why, according to the AAP.

Learn the secrets of SIDS and read an expert's advice for parents of young children to help them sleep better.

Clinical Trials Are Testing Stem Cells as Heart Failure Treatment

Many clinical trials are testing the ability of heart failure patients' own stem cells—which renew themselves and can develop into a range of cell types—to regenerate heart muscle and restore blood flow inside the heart tissue, U.S. News's Sarah Baldauf reports. Heart failure patients suffer a deficit of both blood flow and functioning heart muscle, which weakens the organ's ability to pump vigorously and ultimately deprives other organs of oxygen they need.

Researchers' interest in using stem cells to treat heart failure arises, in part, because the disease is so prevalent. The American Heart Association estimates 5.7 million Americans live with the disease and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, Baldauf writes.

While the promise of stem cell therapy remains seductive, many questions remain about how to harness stem cells' power. Even in trials, which are designed to test effectiveness and safety, it's not always simple for researchers to determine whether a stem cell treatment is the cause of a patient's improvement. Read more.

Learn which diseases stem cells might—or might not—cure, a list of 10 that includes heart disease. Find out why embryonic stem cells are obsolete and what to know if you are at risk of heart failure.

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