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Friday, Dec 19th

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Ebola cannot be cured but west Africa's epidemic may have been preventable

ebolaThe role of the international community in current crises in the Central African Republic and northern Nigeria may be mired in confusion, but it can do something about the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

The outbreak of the virus, which started in Guinea and has spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, is the deadliest in recorded history, with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the situation out of control.

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Hobby Lobby verdict overlooks the science on pregnancy, experts say

Plan BA Supreme Court ruling in favor of allowing companies to opt out of providing female employees some forms of birth control — such as the morning-after pill and certain IUDs — has allowed religious employers to “redefine” pregnancy in a way that flies in the face of the established science of conception, reproductive health experts say.

The company that brought the suit, Hobby Lobby, argued that using these types of contraceptives is tantamount to having an abortion, and, citing religious beliefs against terminations, wanted to opt out of the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to cover preventive services like contraceptives.

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Study: Red meat possibly linked to breast cancer

red meatWomen who often indulge their cravings for hamburgers, steaks and other red meat may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests.

Doctors have long warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers including those of the colon and pancreas, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.

In the new study, researchers at Harvard University analyzed data from more than 88,000 women aged 26 to 45 who had filled in surveys in 1991. Their red meat intake varied from never or less than once a month, to six or more servings a day.

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Study links pollution to autism, schizophrenia

Pollution linked to autismTiny bits of air pollution may irritate very young brains enough to cause problems, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

When mice younger than 2 weeks old were exposed to very small particles of pollutants, their brains showed damage that is consistent with brain changes in humans with autism and schizophrenia. That's not to say air pollution causes either one, said Deborah Cory-Slechta, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead researcher in the study published Friday.

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Trial Drug Reverses Alzheimer’s Disease in Mice

lab miceA drug in early animal trials has shown promising results, appearing to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

Additionally, in mice, the treatment reduced inflammation in parts of the brain that are associated with memory and learning, according to a study led by Susan Farr of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The mice were engineered to produce a mutant form of human beta amyloid, one of the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In a previous study, the researchers had tested mice that naturally overproduced mouse beta amyloid; this step was to see if the drug would work with the human version. Both types of mice showed impaired learning as they aged, much like humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

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E-cigarettes boost quitting success among smokers, study finds

e-cigarettesSmokers trying to quit are 60 percent more likely to report success if they switch to e-cigarettes than if they use nicotine products like patches or gum, or just willpower, scientists said on Tuesday.

Presenting findings from a study of almost 6,000 smokers over five years, the researchers said the results suggest e-cigarettes could play an important role in reducing smoking rates and hence cutting tobacco-related deaths and illnesses.

As well as causing lung cancer and other chronic respiratory diseases, tobacco smoking is also a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases, the world's number one killer.

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Drug can reduce HIV infection rates by more than 90 percent

HIV medicationNew guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommend daily drug therapy for people who are at high risk for contracting HIV.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends doctors evaluate their male and female patients who are sexually active and at high risk of contracting human immunodeficiency virus or who are injecting illicit drugs, and consider offering Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention as a prevention option.

The federal guidelines recommend PrEP be considered for those who are HIV-negative, but at substantial risk for HIV, such as a person who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner, or heterosexual people who do not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status.

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