Health Highlights: Feb. 26, 2013

HealthDay SHARE
  • Ex-Surgeon General Koop Dead at 96
  • FDA Approves Stivarga to Treat Rare Intestinal Tumors
  • Many Feel Unwell After Watching 3-D Movies: Study
  • Asthma Drug Eases Itching from Chronic Hives: Study
  • Doctor Performs Bloodless Lung Transplants

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

Ex-Surgeon General Koop Dead at 96

Dr. C. Everett Koop, the influential U.S. Surgeon General who was a vigorous opponent of smoking but was best known for his unvarnished talk about AIDS during the early days of the epidemic, died Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H.

He was 96, officials at Dartmouth University's Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire said.

Koop was a pediatric surgeon with a conservative bent who sported an Amish-like beard. He was surgeon general from 1981 to 1989, serving during the Reagan administration and the early months of the administration of George H.W. Bush, USA Today reported.

"Dr. Koop will be remembered for his colossal contributions to the health and well-being of patients and communities in the U.S. and around the world," Chip Souba, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine, and Joseph O'Donnell, senior scholar at the C. Everett Koop Institute, said in a statement. "As one of our country's greatest surgeons general, he effectively promoted health and the prevention of disease, thereby improving millions of lives in our nation and across the globe."

Koop's tenure was marked by a headline-grabbing 1986 report on AIDS. The blunt 36-page report discussed the ways that AIDS spread (through sex, needles and blood), the ways it didn't spread (through casual contact in homes, schools and workplaces) and how people could protect themselves, USA Today reported.

The report was highly controversial among conservatives because it called for condom use for the sexually active and sex education for schoolchildren as early as third grade. An eight-page version of the report was mailed to every U.S. home in 1988. It arrived in a sealed packet with the warning that "some of the issues involved in this brochure may not be things you are used to discussing openly," USA Today reported.

Koop insisted that sexual abstinence and monogamy were the best ways to fight the spread of AIDS. But he also said health experts were obligated to inform the public on proven scientific methods to ward off the disease, the newspaper said.

An evangelical Christian, he dismayed his conservative supporters with his endorsement of condoms and sex education in elementary school to combat AIDS.

"My position on AIDS was dictated by scientific integrity and Christian compassion," Koop wrote in his 1991 biography, Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor.

Koop, a one-time pipe smoker, also spearheaded a crusade to end smoking in the United States. He said cigarettes were as addictive as heroin and cocaine, the Associated Press reported.

After leaving office, he continued to promote public health causes, from preventing childhood accidents to better training for doctors, the AP reported.


FDA Approves Stivarga to Treat Rare Intestinal Tumors

The approved use of the drug Stivarga (regorafenib) has been expanded to include treatment of patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) that cannot be surgically removed and don't respond to the drugs Gleevec (imatinib) and Sutent (sunitinib), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

According to the American Cancer Society, GISTs are uncommon tumors that begin on the wall of the intestinal tract.

The decision was based on a study of 199 patients. It found that treatment with Stivarga increased progression-free survival by an average of 3.9 months, compared to placebo.

The most common side effects in patients taking Stivarga were weakness and fatigue, hand-foot syndrome, diarrhea, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, mouth sores, infection, changes in voice volume or quality, pain, weight loss, stomach pain, rash, fever and nausea, the FDA said.