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A Wrap-Up of the Week's Top Medical News

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Sept. 15, 2006 -- A pill that could prevent diabetes grabbed headlines -- as did a report on U.S. life expectancy and the results of a new study affirming the health benefits of green tea.

Drug Could Prevent Diabetes
A widely prescribed drug used to treat type 2 diabetes also may prevent the disease, a new study shows. People at high risk for diabetes who took the drug Avandia reduced their risk of developing the disease by 60%. The findings could usher in a new era of diabetes management similar to that already seen with heart disease, where drug therapies prescribed to prevent the disease become as important as those used to treat it. Read more.

FDA Issues Warning on Bagged Spinach
If you've got a bag of spinach in the fridge, you may want to toss it in the trash. The FDA advised consumers not to eat bagged, fresh spinach while it probed a multistate outbreak of E. coli that reportedly killed one person and sickened 50 others. The FDA is investigating the outbreak, which has been seen in at least 20 states. Read more.

Vitamin D May Cut Pancreatic Cancer
Getting the recommended intake of vitamin D from diet, supplements, or even the sun may cut your risk of pancreatic cancer. The cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. There is, however, no effective screening process for it, so identifying controllable risk factors could aid in prevention efforts. Read more.

Report Blasts Child Obesity Inaction
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) criticized the government, the food industry, and families for not doing enough to reverse rising childhood obesity rates. An IOM report stated that the nation is "beginning to grasp the severity" of the problem, but efforts to address it are too small in scale and too fragmented to have much of an effect. If the trend doesn't slow, experts warn that one-fifth of U.S. kids are projected to be at risk for obesity by 2010. Read more.

Adult Obesity Booming Across U.S.
Children aren't the only ones getting fatter. Six in 10 U.S. adults are now overweight or obese, including nearly a quarter who are obese, according to a new report from the CDC. Mississippi has America's highest percentage of obese adults and Colorado has the lowest percentage. Read more.


Brown Seaweed May Burn Fat
As for finding a potential obesity "cure," one set of researchers is looking to a compound found in wakame, a type of brown kelp used in Asian cuisine. The compound, an antioxidant called fucoxanthin, isn't ready for prime time, but preliminary studies show it burns fat in lab tests on rats and obese mice, prompting the rodents to lose weight. The researchers hope to develop a pill containing fucoxanthin. Read more.

Top States for Life Expectancy
Want to live longer? It might all depend on which America you're a part of, a new study shows. The U.S. is really divided into eight different Americas when it comes to life expectancy, the researchers report. And those "eight Americas" have a life expectancy gap of almost 14 years, similar to gaps between economically developed and emerging countries. Read more.

Green Tea for Longevity
Drink green tea and you just might improve your odds of living longer. A Japanese study shows that people who drink at least a pint of green tea each day have a lower risk of death -- especially from heart disease. The benefit is particularly pronounced in women. Read more.

Panel Refutes 'Gulf War Syndrome'
A government advisory panel said it could find no evidence of a 'Gulf War syndrome' afflicting U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq and Kuwait in the early 1990s, though it did affirm that combat veterans do suffer increased rates of many individual ailments. The conclusion was a blow to veterans who maintain that exposures to pesticides, weapons residues, or other chemicals caused a set of symptoms unique to their service in Operation Desert Storm. Read more.

Flying Less May Slow Flu Spread
Air travel could affect the spread of the flu virus. At least that's what researchers concluded after noting how the drop in U.S. air travel following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 delayed America's flu season by two weeks. Read more.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 15, 2006
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