Ticked off: Tiny ‘dracula’ with a taste for dino blood

by Mariëtte Le Roux Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Dinosaurs, the most fearsome creatures ever to walk the Earth, were bugged already 100 million years ago by a paltry pest that still plagues animals today: the bloodsucking tick, scientists have discovered. Preserved for eternity in amber, fossilised tree resin, researchers have found a hard tick — uncannily similar to those we know — clinging to a 99-million-year-old dinosaur feather, a team wrote in the […]

Half of people aged 40-54 have hardened arteries: study

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Half of middle-aged people who have normal weight and don’t smoke or have diabetes may have clogged arteries, researchers said Thursday, urging stronger measures to lower cholesterol. A high level of so-called “bad cholesterol,” or LDL-C, is the main reason why apparently healthy individuals suffer heart attacks or strokes in middle age, said the report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). “Atherosclerotic plaques are present in […]

Indonesia vaccinates millions to halt deadly diphtheria outbreak

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Millions of Indonesian children are being vaccinated this week as the country responds to a widespread diphtheria outbreak that has killed dozens, officials said Monday. Some eight million children and teenagers across the Southeast Asian nation will receive the shot to prevent further spread of the disease which is caused by a bacterial infection. It can lead to breathing difficulties, heart failure, paralysis, and even death if left untreated. Widespread incidents of the […]

Major recall of Lactalis baby milk over salmonella fears

PARIS, France (AFP) — French baby-milk maker Lactalis and health authorities have ordered a major international product recall because of fears of salmonella contamination following 26 cases of children falling sick in France. Company spokesman Michel Nalet told AFP “nearly 7,000 tons” of production may have been contaminated, but the company is unable to say currently how much remains on the market, has been consumed or is in stock. One of the world’s biggest producers […]

In US, 57 percent of kids on track for obesity by 35: study

MIAMI, United States (AFP) — More than 57 percent of children in the United States will be obese by age 35 if current trends in weight gain and poor eating habits continue, researchers warned Wednesday. The risk of obesity is high even among children whose present weight is normal, said the report in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Only those children with a current healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of becoming obese […]

Diabetes, obesity behind 800,000 cancers worldwide: study

PARIS, France (AFP) — Nearly six percent of new cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2012 — some 800,000 cases — were caused by diabetes and excess weight, according to a study published Tuesday. Among the 12 types of cancer examined, the percentage of cases chalked up to these factors was as high as a third, researchers reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a leading medical journal. Cancers stemming from diabetes and obesity combined was almost […]

Burn victim saved by skin grafts from identical twin

by Brigitte Castelnau Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A man doomed to die after suffering burns across 95 percent of his body was saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation, French doctors said Thursday. Consumed by flames while handling chemicals on the job, 33-year-old Franck Dufourmantelle received life-saving grafts from his brother Eric’s skull, back and thighs. “I had a fresco-like tattoo on my arm,” he recalled in a […]

Simple water test could prevent crippling bone disease

OLDONYOSAMBU, Tanzania (Reuters) — A fast color-changing test that detects fluoride in drinking water could help prevent the crippling bone disease of skeletal fluorosis in developing countries, say UK researchers. “Fluoride is often added to drinking water, and a little bit is beneficial. It can lead to reduced levels of tooth decay but too much fluoride in drinking water is actively harmful and can lead to a disease called skeletal fluorosis, a devastating, crippling condition […]

Mexico’s ‘heaviest man’ has surgery to halve his weight

GUADALAJARA, Jalisco, Mexico (Reuters) — A Mexican man who weighed more than half a ton had surgery in Guadalajara on Wednesday (November 22) in a bid to halve his weight. Juan Pedro Franco, 33, has been dubbed the world’s heaviest man. Earlier this year he reportedly weighed as much as 595 kilos (1,311 pounds). But after a three-month diet Franco has reportedly shed 175 kilos in a special clinic to allow him to have the […]

In US, 4 in 10 cancers due to ‘modifiable risk’: study

MIAMI, United States (AFP) — About four in 10 cancers in the United States are due to lifestyle choices — such as smoking and eating poorly — and other risks that might be avoidable, researchers said Tuesday. The goal of the study was to calculate “the contribution of several modifiable risk factors to cancer occurrence,” said the report in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Factors that are known to raise the risk […]

US approves first pill with digital tracking device

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US regulators have approved the first pill that contains a digital tracking sensor to alert doctors and caregivers as to whether a patient is taking a medication as scheduled. The pill, called Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor), is designed for patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. A patient ingests the pill, and a sensor inside the pill activates when it […]

Eating variety of nuts linked to lower heart disease risk

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — People who regularly snack on a variety of nuts may face a lower risk of heart disease than people who don’t, said the largest study of its kind, which was released this week. Eating five weekly servings of walnuts, peanuts or other kinds of tree nuts was linked to a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 20 percent lower risk of fatal complications due to hardened arteries, […]