Health Highlights: May 29, 2012

HealthDay + More
  • Tuna Carry Radioactive Contamination From Japan to U.S.: Study
  • New Test May Detect Osteoporosis at Early Stages
  • Nearly Half of New U.S. Veterans Filing Disability Claims

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Tuna Carry Radioactive Contamination From Japan to U.S.: Study

Bluefin tuna have carried radioactive contamination 6,000 miles from the waters off Japan to the shores of the United States, according to a new study.

It's the first time a large migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance, the Associated Press reported.

The radioactive cesium comes from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The levels of the radioactive material found in bluefin tuna off the California coast were 10 times higher than the amount measured in previous years.

However, the levels are still far below safe-to-eat limits set by U.S. and Japanese officials, the AP reported.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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New Test May Detect Osteoporosis at Early Stages

A new test that looks for traces of bone calcium in urine could provide a new way to identify osteoporosis bone loss at the earliest stages, a new study says.

Currently, osteoporosis can go undiagnosed for years and may only be detected with scans after a patient suffers a fracture due to the weakening of bones, BBC News reported.

Arizona State University scientists working with NASA developed the test. The research was conducted partly astronauts with in mind because they can suffer bone loss due to the microgravity of space.

Researchers found that the test could detect bone less in healthy volunteers after as little as one week of bed rest. Prolonged bed rest can trigger bone loss. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The next step is to see if it works as expected in patients with bone-altering diseases. That would open the door to clinical applications," said lead researcher Prof Ariel Anbar, BBC News reported.

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Nearly Half of New U.S. Veterans Filing Disability Claims

About 45 percent of the 1.6 million U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are filing for disability benefits, the highest rate of any generation of veterans.

Federal government officials say it's more than double the estimated 21 percent rate of disability claims filed by veterans of the Gulf War in the early 1990s, the Associated Press reported.

The newest veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, compared with an average of four for Vietnam veterans and two for veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

Over the last year, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are claiming 11 to 14 ailments, the AP reported.

So far, disability has been granted to nearly one-third of new veterans who have applied.

The weak economy, higher wound survival rates, and greater awareness of problems such as concussions and post-traumatic stress syndrome are among the factors behind the large increase in veterans' disability claims, the AP reported.

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