Health Newsbrief
December 12, 2001
Vol. 2, No. 42
ISSN 1530-3616
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Bruce Maxwell, Editor - bmax@silverhammerpub.com
Silver Hammer Publishing - http://silverhammerpub.com

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Editor's Note
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Health Newsbrief is taking a break for the upcoming holidays in
the United States. The next issue will be published Jan. 9, 2002.


The News
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SURGICAL CALAMITIES ON RISE, GROUP SAYS
The number of cases where surgeons operate on the wrong body
part, cut up the wrong patient, or perform the wrong type of
surgery on a patient seems to be sharply increasing, according to
a new report from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of
Healthcare Organizations. The high volume of outpatient surgeries
at some facilities seems to be at least partly to blame. Reuters
reports on a case where surgeons left a 13-inch metal retractor
inside a patient, the New York Times article examines some recent
cases of wrong-site surgery, and the ABCNEWS.com piece says
patients must be more assertive to help prevent mistakes.
Sources: Washington Post - Dec. 6, 2001
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64698-2001Dec5.html
Reuters - Dec. 6, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011206/hl/surgery_1.html
New York Times - Dec. 11, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/11/health/policy/11DOCS.html
ABCNEWS.com - Dec. 6, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/abc/20011206/hl/
wrong_site_surgery011206_1.html

JCAHO report: http://www.jcaho.org/news/WSS_PressKit/toc.html


STUDY SETS OFF DEBATE OVER MAMMOGRAMS' VALUE
Back in October, researchers wrote in the medical journal The
Lancet that their review of medical studies over the years found
no evidence that mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths or the
number of mastectomies. The report has ignited a firestorm of
controversy among physicians and patient advocates.
Source: New York Times - Dec. 9, 2001
http://nytimes.com/2001/12/09/health/womenshealth/09MAMM.html
Study from Oct. 20 issue of The Lancet:
http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol358/iss9290/
full/llan.358.9290.original_research.18001.1



SCREENINGS FOR STROKE IN DOUBT
It sounds so appealing: Pharmacies around the country are
offering stroke screenings using portable ultrasound machines for
$49 and five to 10 minutes of your time. But doctors have lots of
concerns about the quality of the tests.
Source: Los Angeles Times - Dec. 10, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/
la-000097998dec10.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dhealth



KIDS AT RISK
Strong evidence exists that many children and teenagers have
artery changes that signal the beginnings of heart disease. Some
doctors are advocating lifestyle changes and routine blood
cholesterol tests for children and teenagers that they hope will
prevent more kids from starting down the path to heart disease.
Source: Los Angeles Times - Dec. 10, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/
la-121001kidheart.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dhealth



REPORT STUDIES AIRPLANE AIR
I don't know about you, but just about every time I fly I catch a
cold from germs in the plane's stale air. Now the National
Research Council has released a 246-page report that blasts the
Federal Aviation Administration for its lousy efforts to monitor
air quality on planes.
Source: New York Times - Dec. 6, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011206/pl/airlines_air_1.html
National Research Council report:
http://www.nap.edu/books/0309082897/html


NEWER DRUG BEATS TAMOXIFEN
IN BREAST CANCER STUDY
A drug called Femara (letrozole) shrinks breast cancer tumors
better than tamoxifen in women with advanced disease, according
to researchers from Duke University. Their report is one of a
string of studies over the last few years indicating that Femora
may be more effective than tamoxifen. However, the researchers
said there's not enough evidence yet to say whether Femara should
replace tamoxifen as the gold standard in treating breast cancer.
Source: Reuters - Dec. 11, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011211/hl/breastcancer_1.html


ASPIRIN CAN REDUCE SEVERITY OF ISCHEMIC STROKE
A study published in the journal Stroke suggests that people who
take a single aspirin per week may slightly lower their risk of
severe damage during an ischemic stroke, the most common type of
stroke. However, the study's lead author said no one should start
taking aspirin regularly without consulting a doctor about the
risks involved.
Source: Reuters Health - Dec. 6, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011206/hl/aspirin_1.html


BODYBUILDING SUPPLEMENTS' LABEL CLAIMS
OFTEN FALSE
California researchers bought bottles of 12 steroid supplements
to see if the pills actually contained the amount of steroids
listed on the label. Eleven of the 12 products did not contain
the amount of steroids listed - one of them actually contained no
steroids at all.
Source: Reuters Health - Dec. 10, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011210/hl/
supplements_1.html


Need a Freelance Writer or Researcher?
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The editor of this newsletter is a full-time freelance writer
and researcher who's available for a variety of assignments -
articles, brochures, books, Web consultations, or a nice e-mail
newsletter like this one - about health or other topics. He has
20 years of professional writing experience, and is the author
of the book "How to Find Health Information on the Internet." To
learn more, visit http://bmaxwell.home.mindspring.com, send an
e-mail to bmaxwell@mindspring.com, or call 703-532-6327.
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