- Chocolate Helps Heart Attack Survivors
- Childhood Radiation Tied to Pregnancy Problems: Study
- FDA's Medical Device Division Chief Resigns
- Older Drivers Unaware That Drugs Affect Driving: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Chocolate Helps Heart Attack Survivors
Eating chocolate can reduce heart attack survivors' risk of dying, say researchers who followed 1,169 Swedish men and women, ages 45 to 70, from the time they were hospitalized with their first heart attack in the early 1990s.
Those who ate chocolate two or more times a week were about three times less likely to die from heart disease than those who never ate chocolate, the study found. Smaller amounts of chocolate also offered some protection, Agence France Presse reported.
The study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, is believed to be the first to demonstrate that chocolate can help prevent death in heart attack survivors.
"Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds," the researchers wrote.
Antioxidants in cocoa likely explain chocolate's beneficial effects in heart attack survivors, study co-author Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told AFP.
Childhood Radiation Tied to Pregnancy Problems: Study
Women who had radiation therapy for cancer when they were children are three times more likely to have premature babies and two times more likely to have underweight babies than other women, say British researchers who analyzed data from 7,300 pregnancies in childhood cancer survivors.
The Birmingham University researchers said the exact reasons for these increased risks aren't clear, but added that radiation treatment may lead to a smaller womb and reduced blood flow to the womb, BBC News reported.
The researchers also found a 40 percent increased risk of miscarriage in childhood cancer survivors. There was no link between chemotherapy in childhood and pregnancy complications.
Overall, survivors of childhood cancer had one-third fewer children than women in the general population, and women who had radiation therapy as children had half the number of babies than women in the general population, BBC News reported.
The study appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
FDA's Medical Device Division Chief Resigns
The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's medical device division has resigned, a move welcomed by consumer health advocates.
Daniel Schultz, who announced Tuesday that he'll leave his post, has been under a cloud since earlier this year when nine scientists in his division alleged they'd been pressured to approve medical devices against their professional judgment, the Associated Press reported.
In a letter to agency staffers obtained by the AP, Schultz said he and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg agreed his resignation "would be in the best interest of the center and the agency."
Shultz led the medical device division for five years. Associate Commissioner Jeff Shuren will serve as interim director for devices until a permanent replacement is found, Hamburg said.
"This change in leadership will bring hope to many patients who have been very concerned about the safety of medical devices," Dr. Diana Zuckerman, of the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, D.C., told the AP.
Older Drivers Unaware That Drugs Affect Driving: Study
Most older American drivers aren't aware of the potentially dangerous effects that medications can have on their driving ability, says a study released Tuesday the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Interviews with 630 drivers ages 56 to 93 found that 78 percent of them used one or more medications, but just over 25 percent said they knew about the possible risks of driving while on medications, The New York Times reported.
Only 18 percent of the participants said they'd been warned about the possibility that their medications could impair their driving, said the study. It also found that awareness about the issue decreased with age, even though the use of prescription medications increased.
The findings are "really scary," Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation, told the Times. He noted that the problem is likely to worsen as the number of aging drivers and the number of older adults using multiple medications increase.
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