- George Francis, U.S.'s Oldest Man, Dies at 112
- Premature Birth Can Lead to Sensory Damage
- First Drug for Longer, Darker Lashes Unveiled
- FDA to Re-Examine Ruling on Safety of Plastic Container Additive
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
George Francis, U.S.'s Oldest Man, Dies at 112
George Francis, believed to be the oldest man in the United States and whose life spanned both world wars, man's walk on the moon and the election of the nation's first black president, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at a Sacramento, Calif., nursing home. He was 112.
"He lived four years in the 19th century, 100 years in the 20th century, and eight years in the 21st century. We call him the man of three centuries," his son, Anthony Francis, 81, told the Associated Press.
Francis, who even in his prime weighed little more than 100 pounds, was born in New Orleans on June 6, 1896. His son said that Francis tried to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War I but was turned down because of his stature. "We always attributed his longevity to his mental and physical toughness," his son said.
As an African-American in the South, the elder Francis grew up under the Jim Crow-era's segregation laws. But Francis maintained a passion for politics, his family said. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s and for Barack Obama in 2008.
In an interview with the AP after Obama's victory, Francis, who used a wheelchair, said he felt like jumping up and down. "He is going to give black men a break in the world, and give them a better opportunity to live and make more money," he said. "For people who say voting doesn't matter, I think that's crazy."
Francis quit school after the sixth grade, became an amateur boxer as a young man and later worked as a chauffeur, an auto mechanic and a barber. He and his wife, Josephine Johnson Francis, had a son and three daughters. His wife died of cancer in 1964.
With Francis' death, Walter Breuning of Montana, who is 112 years, 98 days old, becomes the country's oldest living man, according to UCLA gerontologist Dr. Stephen Coles, who maintains a list of the world's oldest people. Francis, he told AP, lived 112 years and 204 days.
Gertrude Baines of Los Angeles, now 114, is the nation's oldest living person. The world's oldest person is Maria de Jesus of Portugal, who is 115 years, 109 days old. Japan's oldest person is Tomoji Tanabe at 113 years and 101 days, Coles said.
Francis is survived by 18 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren and 16 great-great grandchildren, according to AP.
Premature Birth Can Lead to Sensory Damage
Premature birth can result in lasting sensory damage, the BBC reported Saturday.
British researchers, who published their finding in the current issue of Pain, discovered that premature babies were less sensitive to heat and cold. They suspect that the repeated painful procedures that are necessary in neonatal intensive care units may be to blame for the dulled sensory abilities of these smallest infants, according to the BBC.
Premature infants are already at increased risk for disability and illness throughout their lives, the newspaper reported, but this latest finding adds another danger that doctors need to consider when treating newborns in intensive care units.
Given that development of the nervous system is particularly delicate at birth, the researchers noted that the problem is particularly pressing because premature births around the world are on the increase.
First Drug for Longer, Darker Lashes Unveiled
Allergan Inc., the company that makes Botox, announced on Friday that it has staked its claim in the eyelash enhancement market.
In a news release, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said it had received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing to market Latisse, the first prescription medication that makes lashes grow longer, thicker and darker. Once it reaches the market in March, annual sales of Latisse are expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million.