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Health News Health News
This Week in Health
January 24, 2014


Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires more proof for approving some drugs and devices than for others, a group of studies published this week found. Other new research focused on omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and some supplements. Older women in the study with more omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had larger brains eight years later than those with lower levels. A third study released this week found that men who sit more have a higher risk of heart failure. This was true even if they exercised. A study of middle school girls on elite soccer teams found that more than half of those with concussion symptoms kept playing anyway.


Stay well.

This Issue:

Research Shows FDA Standards Often Vary
Omega-3's May Help Preserve Brain Cells
Sitting May Increase Heart Failure Risk
Study: Girls Play Soccer Despite Concussions


In the News:

Research Shows FDA Standards Often Vary
FDA approvals are not all equal, 3 studies published this week found. The studies were based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents. One study found that criteria for approving drugs vary a great deal. In most cases, at least 2 clinical trials showing that a drug was safe and effective were required for approval. But about one-third of drugs were approved based on a single trial. For about 1 out of 10 approvals, the drug was not compared with any other drug or a placebo (fake drug). A second study looked at implantable devices, such as pacemakers. It found that most of those in use today were approved without a thorough review. Rather, they received a briefer review as a change to an earlier model that went through the full process. Some devices recalled in recent years were approved using the shorter process. The average device has been changed about 50 times, the study found. The third study looked at why the FDA denies approval of drugs. The problems often involved the study design. These included choosing the best dosages, patients to include or study goals. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the studies. HealthDay News wrote about them.


Omega-3's May Help Preserve Brain Cells
Women who consume high levels of omega-3 fatty acids may be less likely to lose brain cells as they get older, a study released this week suggests. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil and some supplements. Researchers measured omega-3 levels in the red blood cells of more than 1,000 older women. Their average age was about 70. Eight years later, they were given MRI scans of the brain. Women with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids had larger brains than those with low levels. The difference was equal to about 1 or 2 years of normal brain shrinkage for adults in this age group. Women with higher levels of omega-3's also tended to have a larger hippocampus. This part of the brain has a major role in memory. It begins to shrink early for someone with Alzheimer's disease. The new study only shows a link between higher omega-3 fat levels in the bloodstream and larger brain size. It does not show that one causes the other. Researchers also did not test women's memory or other brain functions. The journal Neurology published the study.


Sitting May Increase Heart Failure Risk
Older men who sit a lot may be more likely to develop heart failure, a study published this week says. The research focused on more than 82,000 men in the California Men's Health Study. Their ages ranged from 45 to 69. None had heart failure at the start of the study. Researchers kept track of them for up to 10 years. During that time, men who got the least exercise were 52% more likely to develop heart failure than those who exercised the most. Time spent sitting also had an impact even for those who exercised. Men who spent the most time sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than those who sat the least. The journal Circulation: Heart Failure published the study. HealthDay News wrote about it.  


Study: Girls Play Soccer Despite Concussions
Girl soccer players in middle school often keep playing despite concussions, new research has found. And these injuries are common. About 13% of players had concussions in a typical season, the study found. That was higher than reported in previous studies of high school and college players. Researchers recruited 351 girls from elite soccer teams. They were 11 through 14 years old. The study covered the years 2008 through 2012. About 82% of the girls played for 1 year and 18% for 2 years of the study. Researchers sent weekly e-mails to parents during soccer season. They asked about any blows to the head and any symptoms that followed. Players who had these incidents got phone calls from research staff. They were asked how the injury occurred, whether they continued to play, and what type of care they got. In all, 59 concussions occurred. About 54% occurred during contact with another player and 30% while heading the ball. Nearly 59% of the players continued to play despite symptoms such as headache and dizziness. Only 44% saw a health professional afterward. The journal JAMA Pediatrics published the study this week.


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.



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