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Here’s what’s making news this morning in the world of health and medicine.
Danger: Reading articles about health and disease may make you feel ill
Scare stories about illnesses may trigger symptoms in some people, according to a new study. Researchers found that media reports about substances that are supposedly dangerous to health may cause “suggestible” people to develop symptoms – even though there is no objective reason for them to do so. Dr. Michael Witthoft of Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany said: “There is a considerable body of evidence that electromagnetic hypersensitivity might actually be the result of a so-called ‘nocebo’ effect. The mere anticipation of possible injury may actually trigger pain or disorders. This is the opposite of the analgesic effects we know can be associated with exposure to placebos,” the Daily Mail reports.
Malaria hope: Bacteria that make mosquitoes resistant
Researchers have found a strain of bacteria that can infect mosquitoes and make them resistant to the malaria parasite. The study, published in the journal Science, showed the parasite struggled to survive in infected mosquitoes. Malaria is spread between people by the insects so it is hoped that giving mosquitoes malaria immunity could reduce human cases. Experts said this was a first, distant prospect for malaria control, reports the BBC reports.
Sex supplements often contain Viagra ingredients
Herbal supplements aimed at improving men’s sexual abilities often contain the active ingredients in erectile dysfunction pills such as Viagra, according to a new study. Additionally, researchers found that some of these over-the-counter herbal remedies contained more of the ingredient than is allowed in prescription-only pharmaceuticals.”It's pretty scary stuff,” said Neil Campbell, lead author of the study and a researcher at Pfizer, which sells Viagra. “These products are not herbal at all, they're adulterated.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is in charge of regulating herbal supplements, posted 11 warnings to consumers in 2013 alerting them of unlabeled pharmaceuticals being found in these products, according to Reuters.
Air pollution could raise diabetes risk in children
German researchers found that children living in areas with higher levels of air pollution, for example from exhaust fumes, are more likely to develop insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, by the age of 10. Previous studies have shown that women in heavily polluted areas tend to have smaller babies, and low birth weight is known to raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes, providing a possible explanation for the figures. Air pollutants could also react with fats and proteins to cause cell damage or lead to higher levels of inflammation in the body, both of which could lead to insulin resistance, said the scientists from Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, The Telegraph reported.
Pets may curb heart disease risk, doctors say
Owning a pet, especially a dog, probably lowers a person’s risk of heart disease, a new statement from the American Heart Association says. “There is a modest amount of data and reason to state that pet ownership may have some causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor at Baylor College in Houston, Tex., and chairman of the committee that wrote the statement reported by Fox News.
Three suspected cases of SARS-related virus in France
French health officials said Friday they are investigating three suspected cases of a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS in people who had close contact in the hospital with France’s only confirmed case. Beatrice Degrugillers, a spokeswoman for the regional health agency in France’s Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, said a nurse working where the man was hospitalized in late April has herself been under watch at the hospital in Douai since Thursday night, Associated Press reports.
Novartis drug Ilaris approved in U.S. to treat childhood arthritis
Novartis said on Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug Ilaris to treat a serious form of childhood arthritis. Ilaris inhibits interleukin-1 beta, excessive production of which plays a prominent role in certain inflammatory diseases, the company said. The drug is the only approved treatment specifically for the condition that can be given as a monthly subcutaneous injection, Novartis said. Ilaris is also approved in the European Union for the treatment of refractory gouty arthritis, Novartis said, according to Fox News.
Curb junk food ads aimed at children, group says
Canadian children under 13 shouldn’t be exposed to marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, a coalition of medical groups says. Thursday’s policy statement from the Canadian Medical Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hypertension Canada, College of Family Physicians of Canada and others calls on food companies to immediately stop marketing foods high in fats, added sugars or sodium to children, CBC News reports.