Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
General Health Screenings Not Beneficial: Study
General health screenings that are part of your annual checkup
may not be as beneficial for healthy people as you think, according
to researchers who conducted what is believed to be the first large
review of existing studies on the subject.
The paper's authors reviewed data from more than 180,000 adults
in the U.S. and Europe who took part in 14 randomized trials and
were followed for an average of just over five years, the
Wall Street Journalreported.
Some of the patients were offered some type of health screening
while others were not. There were many different types of
screening, ranging from physical exams, family histories and
questionnaires to blood and lung function tests.
The review found that screenings had no effect on overall death
risk or on the risk of death specifically from heart disease,
stroke or cancer, and that screenings had no effect on preventing
The findings were published Tuesday by the nonprofit Cochrane
Collaboration, a international network that conducts reviews to
help improve health care.
"I would say that this is the most reliable evidence on the topic and it doesn't seem to show any convincing benefits," said Dr. Lasse Krogsboll, the paper's first author and a physician at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"Many people would consider (the results) counterintuitive," Krogsboll noted. "Many people see their body the way they see the car -- you take it for a checkup, so you should do that with your body. But biology isn't that simple."
The findings raise questions about whether spending on
preventive health services should be more focused on screening
tests known to be effective, according to the
The review was well done but had limitations, including the fact
that many of the studies started decades ago and didn't assess what
is provided in checkups today, said Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair
of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. He was not involved in
For example, guidelines for treating high blood pressure and
cholesterol have changed over the years.
Even so, the review shows "that just having somebody come in for
a (general) checkup doesn't help," LeFevre told the
He suggested that the focus should be on specific preventive
services and interventions proven to be effective. For example,
healthy people would be better off talking with their doctor about
quitting smoking or limiting alcohol consumption rather than doing
a treadmill stress test.
Halloween Garb From China Seized Due to Lead Levels
Nearly 1,400 Chinese-made pirate costumes have been seized after
high levels of lead were found in the buttons and trim, U.S.
The children's Halloween costumes, which had 11 times the legal
limit for lead, will be destroyed, Mike Milne, a spokesman for U.S.
Customs and Border Protection in Seattle, told
He said the shipment was singled out for inspection because of a
past violation, but did not identify the violator.
Children's health could have been at risk if they put the
buttons or the trim in their mouths. High levels of lead can cause
vomiting, coma or convulsions, while low levels can cause learning
difficulties and an inability to pay attention,
Medical Marijuana Advocates Push for Drug's Reclassification
A federal appeals court is considering whether the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration should hold a hearing on reclassifying
Marijuana is currently listed as a dangerous drug with no
accepted medical use, placing it in the same category as drugs such
as heroin. Last year, medical marijuana advocates petitioned the
DEA to change marijuana's classification, the
The DEA rejected the petition, saying that there wasn't a
consensus of medical opinion on the use of marijuana for medical
purposes. The medical marijuana advocates have asked the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to force the DEA to
hold a hearing on the issue.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the medical marijuana advocates told
the court that the DEA had misapplied the law, while a government
lawyer urged the judges to deny the advocates' request, the
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