Health Highlights: Nov. 14, 2007
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Many U.S. Doctors, Nurses Recommend Dietary Supplements to Patients
More than three-quarters of American doctors (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients, according to a study sponsored by the "Life.supplemented" consumer wellness program, managed by the supplement industry's Council for Responsible Nutrition.
The survey of 1,177 healthcare professionals also found that 72 percent of doctors and 89 percent of nurses personally use vitamin, mineral, herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally, compared to 68 percent of adults in the general population. Overall, about 150 million Americans take supplements each year.
Of the doctors in the survey who said they use supplements, 85 percent also recommended them to their patients, along with 62 percent of doctors who don't use supplements.
Obstetrician/gynecologists were most likely (91 percent) to recommend dietary supplements to patients, followed by primary care physicians (72 percent). About three-quarters (72 percent) of doctors and 87 percent of nurses ask their patients about their use of dietary supplements.
Most Americans Concerned About Homelessness: Survey
More than 80 percent of Americans believe that alcohol and drug abuse is a major cause of homelessness, followed by: mental illness, mental disability or post-traumatic stress disorder (67 percent); insufficient income (67 percent); and job loss (65 percent), according to a survey of 1,002 adults.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (92 percent) said the country needs to do more to tackle the issue of homelessness, 28 percent said they at one point worried about being homeless themselves, and 58 percent believe the number of homeless people has increased over the past 10 years, the Associated Press reported.
The Gallup poll, released Wednesday, was conducted on behalf of mortgage company Fannie Mae.
"It is clear from this poll that Americans are very concerned about homelessness and do not feel enough is being done to address this critical issue," said Stacey Stewart, senior vice president of the Office of Community and Charitable Giving at Fannie Mae, the AP reported.
While many respondents believe the number of homeless people has increased, federal government statistics indicate that the number of chronically homeless people declined by nearly 12 percent (175,900 to 155,600) from 2005 to 2006.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimate defines chronically homeless people as those who've continuously lived on the streets for a year or more or have been homeless at least four times in the previous three years, the AP reported.
U.S. Scientists Create First Cloned Primate Embryos
American scientists created the first cloned embryos from an adult monkey, an important advance that could make it easier to clone human embryos for use in research and as a source of transplant tissues to treat a number of health problems, such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease, BBC News reported.
The U.S. team created dozens of cloned embryos from a 10-year-old macaque. They also extracted stem cells from some of the cloned embryos and were able to get the stem cells to develop into mature heart and nerve cells in the laboratory.
The method used to create the cloned macaque embryos is called somatic cell nuclear transfer, the same basic technique used to create Dolly the sheep and other cloned animals, BBC News reported. But the American scientists used a new procedure -- developed by lead author Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov -- that reduces the risk of damage to primate donor eggs during the cloning process.
The breakthrough, described in this week's issue of the journal Nature, was welcomed by other scientists.
"There has been worry that primates may prove to be difficult in terms of cloning," Robin Lovell-Badge, a stem cell scientist with the U.K. National Institute for Medical Research, told BBC News. Problems with cloning primate embryos would present a major obstacle for researchers striving to develop new treatments based on embryonic stem cells.
War Stress Boosts Health Woes, Social Problems for U.S. Soldiers
U.S. military personnel who serve in war zones are at increased risk for suicide, alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders, depression, marital and family conflict, and accidental death, according to an Institute of Medicine report released Wednesday.
The report, prepared at the request of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, found that increased risk of drug abuse, unexplained illness, skin diseases, gastrointestinal symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and jail/prison incarceration also may be associated with war-related stress. However, the evidence to support these associations is weaker, the report authors said.
While they said they can't offer definitive answers about the connections between many health problems and war-related stress, the authors said it's clear that veterans of war zones report more medical conditions and poorer health than veterans who weren't in war zones.
A lack of pre- and post-deployment screenings of military service members' physical, mental and emotional status makes it difficult to obtain better evidence, the IOM team added. The U.S. Department of Defense should conduct comprehensive, standardized evaluations of service members before and after deployment to war zones, the report recommended.
Depression a Common Secondary Illness Among U.S. Hospital Patients
Between 1995 and 2005, the rate of depression among U.S. patients hospitalized for other conditions increased from 93 to 247 per 100,000 hospital admissions, according to the latest News and Numbers from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
During that same period, the hospitalization rate for patients treated solely for depression fell slightly from 45 to 42 per 100,000 admissions. Among the other findings:
- Between 1995 and 2005, the number of hospital stays in which depression was the secondary diagnosis increased from 930,000 per year to nearly 2.5 million a year.
- Patients with a secondary diagnosis of depression were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted for primary diagnosis of alcohol and substance abuse than non-depressed patients.
- One in 10 patients with depression were admitted primarily for heart or circulatory conditions, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, hardening of the arteries, or non-specific chest pain.
- The 2.9 million hospital stays in 2005 involving depression as a primary or co-existing illness cost nearly $22 billion.
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