Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
The World Health Organization said this week that gonorrhea soon may be resistant to all known treatments. It urged more research to find a cure for the sexually transmitted disease. At a breast cancer conference, researchers presented results for a new "targeted" drug. It combines Herceptin, which binds to cancer cells, with a powerful chemotherapy drug. The poison is released only inside cancer cells. Disney said this week that it is banning junk food adds from its TV and radio stations and websites. New research released this week focused on cancer risk from radiation received in childhood. One study found a higher rate of breast cancer for women treated for cancer as children. Another study found higher leukemia and brain cancer risk for people who had computed tomography (CT) scans before age 22.
This Issue: WHO Says Gonorrhea Resists Most Drugs 'Targeted' Drug Promising for Advanced Breast Cancer Disney Media to Ban Junk Food Ads Childhood Medical Radiation May Raise Adult Cancer Risk
In the News:
WHO Says Gonorrhea Resists Most Drugs
Gonorrhea could soon become untreatable, the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week. Within a few years, the disease could be resistant to all known antibiotics, a WHO official told the Associated Press. Gonorrhea is the world's second most common sexually transmitted disease. It ranks just behind chlamydia. There are about 106 million new cases each year. The disease can cause inflammation and infertility. Women may have problems with pregnancy. Their babies have a 50-50 chance of developing eye infections that can cause blindness. The bacteria have become so resistant to drugs because they are able to change very quickly, the WHO official said. WHO is urging governments to pay more attention to tracking the disease. It says more research is needed to look for a cure.
'Targeted' Drug Promising for Advanced Breast Cancer
A new "smart bomb" treatment that targets cancer cells may give some women with advanced breast cancer more time before the disease gets worse. Researchers described a unique two-drug combination called T-DM1at a conference this week. One drug is Herceptin, which binds to cancer cells that overproduce a certain protein. About 20% of breast cancers are of this type. The other drug is a type of chemotherapy too toxic to be given alone. But T-DM1 only allows the toxic drug to be released after Herceptin attaches to breast cancer cells. So the poison attacks only the cancer. The study included 991 women. Their cancers were getting worse despite treatment with chemotherapy and regular Herceptin. The women were randomly divided into two groups. One group received infusions of T-DM1 every 3 weeks. The other received the only treatments approved for such advanced cases -- Xeloda plus daily Tykerb pills. After 2 years, 65% of those who got T-DM1 and 47% who got standard treatment were still alive. On average, women got worse in about 10 months with T-DM1 and 6 months with standard treatment. So far, women taking the new drug are living about a year longer than those on the older drugs, researchers said. The Associated Press wrote about the new treatment.
Disney Media to Ban Junk Food Ads
Disney says it will no longer accept ads from junk food for its programming for children. The company announced the move this week. It will go into effect in 2015, after current ad contracts expire. Disney's ad guidelines are based on U.S. government standards. They include limits on sugar, sodium, saturated fat and calories per serving. First Lady Michelle Obama called the company's decision a "game changer." Experts told the Associated Press that this will put pressure on other companies to adopt similar standards. Disney said it would decide whether to accept ads for a fast-food chain based on all offerings, not just kids' meals. The standards will apply to Disney's TV channels, radio stations and websites. The company already has improved nutritional standards at its theme parks. That effort began in 2006.
Childhood Medical Radiation May Raise Adult Cancer Risk
Tests and treatments received by children may affect their cancer risk as adults, studies released this week found. One study was presented at a cancer conference. It found that girls treated with radiation for cancer face an adult risk of breast cancer that is 6 to 7 times the normal rate. USA Today wrote about the research. The other study appeared in the journal Lancet this week. Researchers looked at records for nearly 180,000 people who had a computed tomography (CT) scan before age 22. Scans occurred between 1985 and 2002. Researchers kept track of people until 2008. By then, 74 had been diagnosed with leukemia and 135 with brain tumors. The risk of a brain tumor was tripled for those who had 2 to 3 childhood scans. Leukemia risk was tripled for those with 5 to 10 scans. The Associated Press wrote about the study.
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