Health Highlights: March 13, 20122012-Mar-13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Doc-Prescribed Heroin May Work Better Than Methadone as Treatment: Study
Medically prescribed heroin is more cost-effective than methadone for treating heroin addicts, according to findings from North America's first clinical trial of prescribed heroin.
Compared to patients who received methadone, those who received the medically prescribed heroin in the form of diacetylmorphine stayed in treatment longer and spent less time in relapse, which was associated with less criminal activity and lower healthcare costs, reported the National Post in Canada.
Patients who received the medically prescribed heroin also lived longer than those who received methadone.
The study predicted an average lifetime societal cost of $1.09 million for addicts who received medically prescribed heroin and $1.14 million for those who received methadone, the Post reported. The costs include treatment expenses and costs to the justice system.
The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Treatment Halts World's Tallest Man's Growth
Treatment to stop the world's tallest man from growing has been successful, according to University of Virginia doctors.
The Daily Progress newspaper said 8-foot-3 Sultan Kosen of Turkey had a tumor in his pituitary gland that was causing excess growth hormone and gigantism, USA Today reported.
It was feared that continued growth would put the 29-year-old at even greater risk for joint and organ problems. Doctors began radiation treatment on the tumor in 2010 and it was confirmed three months ago that Kosen had stopped growing.
The treatment involved the use of gamma knife radiosurgery, which delivers a focused beam of radiation to the tumor. But The Daily Progress said before the procedure could be performed, special medical equipment to fit Kosen's enormous skull had to be flown in from Sweden, USA Today reported.
Many States Plan Tighter Indoor Tanning Rules for Teens
Nearly two dozen states are considering new laws to prohibit or further restrict teens' use of indoor tanning devices in order to protect them from skin cancer.
Eighteen states are thinking about banning the use of indoor tanning devices by people younger than age 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 5 others are weighing increased regulation.
"It's a major push this year," Ron Moy, of the American Academy of Dermatology, told USA Today. He noted that indoor tanning is undeniably associated with skin cancer.
Currently, California is the only state that bans indoor tanning for all minors. Most states require teens to get parental consent before using tanning beds and 10 states have age restrictions, with minimum ages for use ranging from 13 to 16.5 years.
The American Academy of Dermatology says indoor tanning devices are used by about 30 million people (including 2.3 million teens) each year, USA Today reported.
White House Outlines Plan for Health Insurance Exchanges
As part of the new health reform law, the U.S. government on Monday released its blueprint for state insurance exchanges meant to allow Americans to purchase health insurance in a more organized and competitive market.
The new marketplaces, intended to provide one-stop insurance shopping, are mandated to be up and running in every state by Jan. 1, 2014, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Associated Press reported.
Individuals and small businesses are the intended customers. They will be able to apply for coverage online, and trained "navigators" will be available to educate them about the new system.
The exchanges are expected serve some 30 million Americans, of whom half are currently uninsured, the news service said.
"More competition will drive down costs and exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power big businesses have today," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in statement, the AP reported.
Meeting the new regulation entails a huge cooperative effort for state and federal officials, who will need to verify personal and financial details, get customers enrolled in the correct health plan, and calculate possible government aid for millions of people, the AP said.
Jan. 1, 2013, is the deadline for states to obtain conditional federal approval for their exchanges.
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