- U.S. Soldier Suicides Reach New High
- Multiple-Virus Flu Vaccine Developed in Japan
- Diet Pills Contain Potentially Harmful Chemical: FDA
- Short, Intense Exercise Improves Metabolism: Study
- Brain Damage Found in Sixth NFL Player Who Died Young
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Soldier Suicides Reach New High
The number of American soldiers who committed suicide increased again in 2008, reaching almost a three-decade high, according to military officials.
They told the Associated Press that at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008, but also said the final count is expected to be higher because more than a dozen other suspicious deaths are still being investigated.
There were 115 suicides among U.S. soldiers in 2007, 102 in 2006, and 64 in 2004. The 2008 figure of 128 is the highest since record-keeping began in 1980 and works out to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers. That means the suicide rate among soldiers is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, the AP reported.
The military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the data will be formally released at an Army news conference later Thursday.
Repeated and long tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are putting troops under tremendous and unprecedented stress, officials say. In an attempt to halt the rise in suicides, the Army has increased training, prevention programs, and psychiatric staff, the AP reported. Additional measures are expected to be announced at the news conference.
Multiple-Virus Flu Vaccine Developed in Japan
A flu vaccine that works against multiple viruses has been developed by Japanese researchers, who said the vaccine could help prevent a deadly bird flu pandemic caused by mutating viruses.
The vaccine is based on common, rarely changing types of protein inside flu viruses. Current flu vaccines utilize a protein on the surface of viruses, but the protein commonly mutates and renders vaccines ineffective, Agence France Presse reported.
Tests on mice implanted with human genes showed that the new vaccine is effective even when flu viruses mutate, said Tetsuya Uchida, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Uchida told AFP the research team needs to confirm the vaccine's safety with further experiments on mice and possibly large animals before they can test it on humans. That means it could be several years before the vaccine is available for use.
Diet Pills Contain Potentially Harmful Chemical: FDA
The weight-loss pill "Venom Hyperdrive 3.0" contains a significant amount of a chemical called sibutramine, which increases blood pressure and heart rate and puts people at risk for addiction, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned.
The agency said consumers should stop taking the product and contact their doctor if they're suffering any adverse health effects, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Venom Hyperdrive 3.0 is marketed by California-based Applied Lifescience Research Industries Inc. The company, which launched a recall of the product late last year after the FDA raised concerns, is replacing Venom Hyperdrive 3.0 with a newer version.
Charles Weller, general counsel for Applied Lifescience Research, told the Journal that the company hasn't pinpointed how sibutramine got into the original product, but said contaminated raw materials from China may be to blame.
Short, Intense Exercise Improves Metabolism: Study
The body's ability to process sugars can get a big boost from regular high-intensity, three-minute workouts, which could reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to researchers in Scotland.
They had 16 sedentary male volunteers use exercise bikes to perform quick sprints at their highest possible intensity, United Press International reported.
"What we have found is that doing a few intense muscle exercises, each lasting only about 30 seconds, dramatically improves your metabolism in just two weeks," researcher James Timmons, Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said in a news release.