Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Researchers said this week that a stem cell treatment apparently improved vision in two women who are legally blind. The treatment used stem cells from embryos. Another new study estimated that 16 million Americans have human papilloma virus infections in the mouth. U.S. health officials said this week that amputations have dropped by more than half for people with diabetes. The government also released new rules for school lunches. The changes are intended to improve nutrition and reduce fat and calories.
This Issue: Study: Stem Cells May Help Eye Disease Amputations Drop for U.S. Diabetics Study: 16 Million Have HPV Mouth Infections New Lunch Rules Aim for Healthier Fare
In the News:
Study: Stem Cells May Help Eye Disease
Two women with very limited vision appeared to improve after treatment with embryonic stem cells, researchers report. These cells are removed from human embryos. They can grow into many types of cells. Both women had some vision but were legally blind. Both had macular degeneration. This disease causes loss of central vision. One woman had the common "dry" form. The other woman had a rarer type. Each woman was injected in one eye with embryonic stem cells. Four months later, they showed some improvement in eye tests. For example, both could read more letters on vision charts. Doctors said the treatment appeared to be safe. The women had no signs of rejection or abnormal growths. The journal Lancet published the study online January 23. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Amputations Drop for U.S. Diabetics
People with diabetes are much less likely to lose a limb or a toe because of the disease, new U.S. government research shows. The study found that the amputation rate for diabetics has dropped by more than half since the mid-1990s. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did the study. It was based on hospital discharge records. Amputations are most common among people with diabetes who are elderly or have had the disease for at least 10 years. So the study focused on people age 40 and older. The amputation rate was 11.2 per 1,000 people in 1996. By 2008, the number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled. But the amputation rate dropped to about 4 per 1,000. Researchers said this drop probably was the result of better treatments. The journal Diabetes Care published the study this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Study: 16 Million Have HPV Mouth Infections
About 16 million Americans are infected with human papilloma virus (HPV) in the mouth, a study published this week estimates. But only about 15,000 a year develop oral cancers linked to HPV, researchers said. The virus is best known for causing genital warts and cervical cancer. But it also causes some cancers in the back of the mouth and upper throat. The study is the first to estimate how many Americans have this infection in the mouth. About 5,500 people were tested as part of a national health survey. They were given a mouthwash sample to gargle for 30 seconds. Then the samples were tested for HPV. Based on the results, researchers said that about 7% of Americans ages 14 through 69 have oral HPV infection. That includes about 10% of men and 4% of women. Only about 1% had HPV-16. This is the type that is most likely to cause oral cancer. Infection was closely linked with sexual activity, including oral sex, and having a larger number of partners. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
New Lunch Rules Aim for Healthier Fare
Cafeterias must double fruits and vegetables offered in student lunches under new rules issued this week. The rules are the first major change in U.S. school lunch policy in 15 years. Lunches must also contain more whole grains and less salt, fat and sugar. They must include more fresh produce. Whole milk will be banned, and calories will be limited based on age. The standards do not include restrictions on potatoes that the Obama administration proposed last year. Congress overturned that proposal. Congress also insisted that the tomato sauce on pizza continue to count as a vegetable. The changes take effect in July. They apply to any schools that receive U.S. funds for their breakfast and lunch programs. The subsidy will go up 6 cents per lunch for schools that comply. School food service directors generally praised the changes. But they said some of them could be expensive, especially the need to buy more fresh produce. The McClatchy-Tribune News Service wrote about the new rules.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.