kin of mumbai attack victims welcome

Relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai attack victims on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, saying justice has been finally delivered. In Varanasi, Sunita Yadav, wife of victim Upendra Yadav, expressed her gratitude to the authorities for carrying out the execution.

Daily Bollywood News:Bipasha Basu - Bollywood will remain a hero-centric business

Women are active in show business like never before, but will they surpass the status Bollywood heroes enjoy? Never, says Bipasha Basu, who feels there is minimum opportunity for female actors in the Hindi film industry

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Time to understand West Virginia




NEW YORK -- West Virginia beat Pittsburgh, beat the Panthers soundly with badly, beat 'em on offense, and beat 'em by defense.

And with the exception of the people residing among Wheeling and Charleston, or those holding West Virginia diplomas, all anyone will be talking about this morning is Pitt.

They'll debate whether the Panthers, 74-60 victims of the Mountaineers in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, will still be a No. 1 seed. They'll marvel about how a team that won four games in four nights a year ago to win the Big East Tournament couldn't win one game in one night after holding fort as the No. 1 team in the nation at different portions of the season.

Figures. It's been that way all season. Somehow the Mountaineers have managed to fly under the radar despite playing in a conference more hyped than the return of Britney. The really good teams -- Pitt, Louisville, Marquette, Villanova and Connecticut -- earned lots of love. The surprisingly bad teams -- Georgetown and Notre Dame -- get plenty of attention. The middling bubble team -- Providence -- mixed into the intrigue.

West Virginia? The Mountaineers only played without their starting point guard used for virtually the entire season and still manage to win 22 games.
Hello? Bueller?

"Yeah, I believe we've flown under the radar a little bit," Alex Ruoff said. "It's probably because we've beaten the teams we're supposed to beat and move toward up a little short against the ones we needed to beat."

In other words WVU just hasn't been sexy enough. No drama, no intrigue, just a solid team plodding along and getting better as the season belongs.

And if that doesn't send shivers down the collective spine of college basketball, it hasn't been paying attention recently. Kevin Pittsnogle means anything to you? How about Joe Alexander? No lone knew who either of those guys were and then along came March and one unexpected run to the Elite Eight in 2005 and any more dash to the Sweet 16 last year. Pittsnogle became a household name (and really -- chew on that concept for a minute) and Alexander an early entry to the NBA Draft.

This is WVU's MO. The Mountaineers have Division I basketball right where they want it. Lull teams to sleep in the regular season and then pounce come March.

Ask Pitt. The Panthers dusted the Mountaineers twice in the regular season, winning in Morgantown by 12 and at home by 11.

That was February.

In March, West Virginia is 1-0 against its backyard rival.

"They're really good," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.

Dixon's team is, too, which is what makes this loss so confounding. The Panthers lost DeJuan Blair to foul trouble early in the first half but managed to stay nearly even until the break, trailing by just two at the half.

But then the Mountaineers came out in a 1-3-1 in the second half, a little wrinkle Bob Huggins threw at his team three weeks ago and the Panthers caved. Believing his players just weren't big enough or physical enough to match up with the Panthers, especially down low where Blair lives; he figured the 1-3-1 would be the equalizer.
Of course he was right. Huggins is a masterful coach, his sometimes gruff personality overshadowing the value of his basketball mind.

Pitt missed all six 3-pointers it attempted in the second half, turned the ball over 13 times and most surprising of all the team that leads the country in rebound margin (at 10.4 more per game) got outboarded, 33-27.

Away of sorts on offense, the Panthers also become lackluster on defense. Devin Ebanks (20), Ruoff (18) and De'Sean Butler (16) all hit double figures.

"Man the thing I will miss most when I leave now are the late night film sessions by (Huggins)," Ruoff said. "He just knows so a lot about the game. You automatically become a better player."

Huggins has remade this team from the Beilein system masters into players. He joked that he doesn't have the rules that Beilein had since he doesn't know them. Truth is Huggins isn't a rules guy. He wants guys who play with the abandon that only confidence can bring.

It took a while to find it with this group. The Mountaineers lost Joe Mazzulla seven games in to a shoulder injury, forcing Ruoff and Butler out of position and into the point guard duties. Neither shirked from the additional duties nor did they shrink in the face of Huggins' sometimes withering criticism and demands. Instead they embraced it.

"The one thing I've really stressed in the two years that I've been here is learn how to play the game," Huggins said. "I'm not big on run here, run there and have a whole bunch of things that are concrete. I wanted them to learn. I wanted them to learn how to play basketball."

Clearly the Mountaineers have and if history is any indicator, the rest of college basketball ought to take note.

Mickelson joins front bunch at CA




As players since around the globe kept pouring in birdies - relative unknown players like Prayad Marksaeng and Jeev Milka Singh, followed in the familiar name of Phil Mickelson - Tiger Woods was stuck here the middle of the CA Championship pack.

Mickelson chipped in three times on his way to a 7-under-par 65 in Doral, Fla. that gave him a four-way share of the lead with Retief Goosen, Marksaeng, and Singh.
Woods made only three birdies - two on par 5s - and have to settle for a 71 that put him here a tie for 40th.

"I need to be a touch sharper," said Woods, who has never finished out of the top 10 at Doral.

Mickelson has rarely been this excited. He can't recall hitting the ball this long or having a short game this superb. Along with taking only eight putts on the back nine, he pounded a tee shot so far that he had wedge left for his second shot on the par-5 first hole.

Singh ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn and be the first player to post a 65 on a balmy, breezy afternoon. Goosen, switching back to a conventional putter, ran off eight birdies here his round of 65. And the real surprise was Marksaeng, of Thailand, who shot 30 on his back nine.

PGA - Monday qualifier Derek Lamely and 20-year-old Australian Jason Day shot 6-under 66s here windy, sometimes rainy conditions to share the first-round lead here the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show

U.S. researchers find aerosol levels have diminished visibility.



THURSDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- More than three decades of data showing how clear, or unclear, the sky over land has been should reveal how changes in air pollution have affected climate change, according to a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.

The data show that what the researchers call clear sky visibility over land has decreased worldwide since the early 1970s because of an increase in aerosols, which are solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in air. Aerosols, which include soot, dust and sulfur dioxide particles, are created by the burning of fossil fuels, industrial processes and burning of tropical rain forests. Aerosols pose a threat to human health and the environment, the researchers said.

"Creation of this database is a big step forward for researching long-term changes in air pollution and correlating these with climate change," Kaicun Wang, an assistant research scientist in the geography department at Maryland and the research team leader, said in a university news release. "And it is the first time we have gotten global long-term aerosol information over land to go with information already available on aerosol measurements over the world's oceans."

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are transparent and have no effect on visibility. Though the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change is well-established, scientists don't fully understand the effects of aerosols. The database is expected to provide answers.

The data include sky visibility measurements taken between 1973 and 2007 at 3,250 meteorological sites worldwide. Visibility refers to the distance an observer can clearly see from a measurement source. The more aerosols in the air, the shorter the visibility distance.

A preliminary analysis of the database revealed a steady increase in aerosols between 1973 and 2007. Increased aerosols in the atmosphere block solar radiation from the Earth's surface, causing an overall "global dimming," the researchers said.

The findings were published in the March 13 issue of Science.

Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem

Study found significant amount occurred in ICUs.

THURSDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Mistakes involving injected medications are a major safety problem in intensive care units, a new study reveals.

Researchers monitored errors in 1,328 patients in 113 ICUs in 27 countries over a 24-hour period in January 2007. Two U.S. sites with 50 patients were included in the study.

Dr. Andreas Valentin of the Rudolfstiftung Hospital in Vienna, Austria, and colleagues identified 861 injected medication errors involving 441 patients. No errors occurred in 67 percent of patients, while 250 patients (19 percent) experienced one error, and 191 patients (14 percent) experienced more than one error.

Errors caused no harm in the majority (71 percent) of patients, but 15 errors did cause permanent harm or death in 12 patients (0.9 percent). Medical trainees were involved in eight of those 15 errors.

The most common causes of errors were: wrong time of administration (386); missed medication (259); wrong dose (118); wrong drug (61); and wrong route (37).

ICU staff listed workload/stress/fatigue as a contributing factor in 32 percent of errors. Other contributing factors included: a recently changed drug name (18 percent); written communication problems (14 percent); oral communication problems (10 percent), and violation of standard protocol (9 percent).

The risk of an injected medication error increased significantly with a higher level of patient illness, a higher level of care, and a higher rate of drug injections. The risk was lower when a critical incident reporting system was in place and when there was an established routine of checks at nurses' shift changes, the researchers said.

They said their findings show that administration of injected medications is a weak point in patient safety in ICUs. But that risk can be reduced through organizational plans such as error reporting systems and routine checks at shift changes.

The study will be published online March 13 in the BMJ.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Too Little Sleep May Raise Diabetes Risk


Less than 6 hours of slumber per night heightened the odds, study found

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- A good night's sleep may help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers say.

People averaging less than six hours of shuteye during the work week over a period of years were shown to have nearly five times the chance of developing the disease compared to those who averaged six to eight hours of sleep, according to research scheduled to be presented Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference in Palm Harbor, Fla.

"This study supports growing evidence of the association of inadequate sleep with adverse health issues. Sleep should be assessed in the clinical setting as part of well-care visits throughout the life cycle," study lead author Lisa Rafalson, a research assistant professor at the University at Buffalo in New York, said in a news release issued by the association.

The study, in which 1,455 people reported on their sleep habits, compared fasting glucose levels on people over a six-year period. The results were based on adjustments made for age, body mass index, glucose and insulin concentrations, heart rate, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and symptoms of depression.

The study found no significant difference in fasting glucose levels or risk of developing type 2 diabetes between those who averaged six to eight hours of sleep during weeknights and those who averaged more than eight hours a night.

"Our findings will hopefully spur additional research into this very complex area of sleep and illness," Rafalson said.

DNA Testing Lays Romanov Murder Mystery to Rest


Bodies found near rest of Tsar Nicholas II's family identified as 2 missing children



WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- An enduring mystery has been laid to rest with the DNA identification of the bodies of two children of the last Tsar of Russia.

The bones of the siblings, Tsarevich Alexei and a sister, were discovered in a grave outside Yekaterinburg in 2007. The remains of their father, Tsar Nicholas II, the Tsarina Alexandra and their three other daughters were found in 1991 about 70 meters away and were subsequently identified.

"The DNA evidence is strong, but if you if you look at the entire evidence, it's very convincing that this was, in fact, the Romanovs," said Michael Coble, lead author of a study published in the March 11 online issue of PLoS One and research section chief of the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Other evidence included three silver amalgam fillings on the crowns of two molars which undoubtedly belonged to an aristocrat.

The U.S. researchers worked with the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, which was treating the case like an unsolved homicide, Coble said.

"In many ways, it's not unlike a lot of missing person and unidentified cases where we have no bodies," said study co-author Anthony B. Falsetti, a forensic anthropologist with the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Over the years, skeptics have argued that the remains had not definitively been identified as those of the ill-fated Romanovs.

The Tsar, his entire family and four staff members were killed by a Bolshevik firing squad early on the morning of July 17, 1918.

Apparently, the executioners had attempted to destroy the bodies of Alexei and his sister (either Maria or Anastasia).

"The historical record is that when the Bolsheviks were disposing of the bodies, they took two of the remains and tried to cremate them to try to get rid of all of the evidence. They did a test [on the recently discovered two bodies] to see how it worked, and it didn't work that well. It took them all night," said Coble. "It takes a very high temperature to cremate a body, and when you're out in the woods, you don't necessarily get that kind of heat. The executioner had actually brought in an expert on cremation, but apparently, the guy broke his leg. It was a ridiculous sequence of events."

The end result was that these two bodies were buried in one grave and the rest of the bodies in another, a fact that had fueled speculation that two of the children had managed to elude the bullets and escape.

Based on DNA technology available in the 1990s, the first five bodies were positively identified as the Tsar, the Tsarina and three of their children.

The second set yielded 44 bone fragments and teeth which were subjected to three types of genetic testing: mitochondrial DNA, autosomal STR and Y-STR testing.

The mitochondrial tests (mitochondria are passed through the mother) confirmed that the bodies were children of the Tsarina. Confirmation was done with a living maternal relative, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The autosomal STR test was basically a paternity test, Coble said, revealing that the newer remains are 4.3 trillion times more likely to be related to the Tsar and Tsarina than two random individuals. Skeletal remains from the three daughters found in the first grave also matched up.

"It's as strong as evidence you're going to find as far as nuclear DNA goes," Coble said.

The Y-STR testing, done only on the remains of Alexei, matched the STR profile of the Tsar and also a living relative, Prince Andrew Romanov, a cousin of the Tsar.

The STR and Y-STR findings were confirmed by testing blood on a shirt that Nicholas had worn on a trip to Japan in April 1891, when he was attacked with a saber. The shirt had been stored at the Hermitage Museum.

The results were confirmed, reconfirmed and confirmed again by independent labs.

One mystery remains however: the identity of the daughter found in the later grave. Russian forensic anthropologists have insisted and continue to insist that it is Maria. American experts assert it is Anastasia.

"For about 80 years, no one knew the real truth of where the bodies were taken, and you always had the romantic mythology of Anastasia, the youngest daughter, who was beautiful and adored and able to survive, because she charmed her captors into letting her go," said Coble. "Since 1918, over 200 different people have claimed to be one of the children. This truly now ends the case. You can no longer say, 'You never found the two children.' "

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shootings Linked to Alcohol-to-Go Outlets, Study Finds


Tighter controls are urged to help reduce urban violence.



TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- The chances of being shot increase when excess drinking occurs near a place that sells alcohol to go, according to a study by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

"Individuals in and around off-premise alcohol outlets were shot as the victims of predatory crimes, possibly because they had heavily consumed and were easier targets or they were shot as the victims of otherwise tractable arguments that became violent, because one or more of the combatants had consumed alcohol," Charles C. Branas, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university and corresponding author of the study, said in a university news release.

Light drinking and being near bars, taverns and other places that sold alcohol but not on a to-go basis were not linked to an increased chance of being a victim of gun play, he said.

"On-premise outlets were by comparison highly monitored, relatively safe havens, even in neighborhoods with high levels of gun violence," Branas said.

The researchers, who looked at assaults that took place in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2006, said that reducing the density in certain areas of outlets that sell alcohol to go and training employees at the outlets might help reduce gun violence.

The study, published online March 10, was expected to be in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Rose Cheney, executive director of the Firearm and Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said the findings would provide municipalities with another tool in the war against gun violence.

"Research findings such as these allow us to intervene earlier, more comprehensively interrupt pathways toward violence, and better document the impact of investments in prevention," she said. "In addition, while firearm homicides are most visible, focusing on the broader outcome of firearm injuries and their repercussions to individuals and communities will increase our chances of success."

Study Links Blood Type and Pancreatic Cancer


Findings shed light on gene serving as marker for others involved in tumor development.



TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) --- People with type O blood have a much lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a finding that might help explain the origins of the often fatal disease.

The study, by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, confirms a previously suggested tie between blood type and the disease, which is diagnosed in about 40,000 people each year in the United States.

The study found that the chances of developing pancreatic cancer were greater for people with a blood type other than O: 32 percent higher for those with type A blood, 51 percent greater for type AB and 72 percent higher for type B .

However, because only a little more than 1 percent of the general population is at risk for the disease, the researchers said that blood type would not serve as a helpful screening method in the future.

"Except for several rare familial syndromes, the genetic factors that raise or lower an individual's risk for pancreatic cancer are largely unknown," the study's lead author, Dr. Brian Wolpin, said in a news release from the cancer institute.

"The association between blood type and pancreatic cancer risk provides a new avenue for getting at the biological mechanisms that underlie the disease," he said. "Understanding the biology will put us in a better position to intervene so the cancer doesn't develop or progress."

Glycoproteins, compounds of sugar and protein found on the surface of red blood cells and other cells, including those in the pancreas, help define the four major blood types. A gene called ABO helps put these glycoproteins together by arranging sugar molecules on a protein "backbone" called the H antigen. In people with type O blood, the antigen has no sugars attached to it.

Previous studies have found that normal pancreas cells have blood-type antigen patterns that differ from those in pancreatic tumor cells, leading to speculation that the ABO gene might have a role in determining whether cells become cancerous.

The authors, whose study was published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, wrote that their findings do not necessarily prove a direct link between blood-type antigens and pancreatic cancer development, but they may show that the ABO gene serves as a marker for other genes more directly involved in cancer development.

Church-Based Weight Plan Peels Off Pounds for Blacks

Members dropped 5% of body weight and sustained it for 6 months, study finds.



TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- A 12-week church-based weight loss program helped many overweight/obese blacks lose 5 percent or more of their body weight, and most of them maintained their weight loss for at least six months.

The study included 35 men and women, average age 46, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36. They took part in a pilot program conducted by lay leaders at Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church near Augusta, Ga. The lay leaders had received two days of training to present the 12 modules of Fit Body and Soul, a faith-based diabetes prevention program adapted from the U.S. National Institutes of Health-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program.

By the end of the program, 16 of the 35 (46 percent) participants had lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight, and about 26 percent had lost 7 percent of more. After the initial 12-week program, participants had six monthly "booster" sessions for six months. Eleven of the 16 participants (almost 69 percent) who lost weight in the initial program kept the weight off during the six months of follow-up sessions.

The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

"This kind of result is remarkable in a faith-based program run by lay leaders when so many other community-based programs have failed," principal investigator Dr. Sunita Dodani, director of the Center for Outcome Research and Education, and associate professor, department of internal medicine, School of Medicine, Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, said in an AHA news release.

A multi-year study will compare 10 congregations who use the Fit for Body and Soul program and 10 congregations who use a different health promotion program developed from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Guide. All the churches are in the Midwest.

Losing weight through healthy eating and exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Jack Straw opens new probation headquarters in Norfolk


Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw will officially open Norfolk Probation Area's new headquarters at Centenary House today. The building brings together staff from five separate sites in the city.

Jack Straw will also visit offenders working on a community payback project run in partnership with local enterprise 'Mow and Grow'. Launched in 2006, 'Mow and Grow' works with offenders on supervision at Norfolk Probation to offer gardening services to elderly and vulnerable people in some of the most deprived wards in the area.

Speaking at the visit, Jack Straw said:

'I'm pleased to be in Norfolk today opening the new probation headquarters at Centenary House and seeing the positive work being carried out by offenders on community payback. This type of partnership with "Mow and Grow" not only improves the quality of life for residents and reduces crime and antisocial behaviour in the local community, but it also offers valuable work experience and skills to offenders.

'Community punishments like unpaid work can be more productive than prison in getting offenders to address the causes of their criminality. Offenders sentenced to "pay" for their crimes within the community can already expect to work hard, with no pay and significant loss of free time. But the type of unpaid work that can be seen here today provides training for offenders that can lead to real employment opportunities and a reduction in reoffending.

'The public has a right to know what unpaid work offenders are doing in their area to pay back for the wrongs they committed. That's why we introduced the high-visibility jackets that offenders wear while working. Justice should not just be done but be seen to be done.'

Chief Officer at Norfolk Probation, Martin Graham said:

'Centenary House, which is a national flagship building for the Probation Service, allows us to undertake our work with offenders in 21st century facilities. We can now look forward to delivering a range of first class programmes and individual supervision for offenders.'


Notes to editors


1. Following findings from Louise Casey's review, branded high-visibility jackets must be worn by offenders carrying out work on community payback projects from 1 December 2008 as part of a government drive to ensure the public can see punishment being carried out in the community.

2. Louise Casey's review found that:

* 70% of the public believe offenders should be identifiable
* 79% of the public believe local people should be informed when community sentences for those committing crime or antisocial behaviour are made
* 79% of the public believe that the criminal justice system respects the rights of offenders and only 33% believe that it meets the needs of victims
* 88% of the public believe that community payback should involved demanding work
* 90% of the public believe that payback to community should be part of all punishments for crime.

3. The reoffending rate following a short custodial sentences is 59.7%. These short sentences can lead to problems with employment, housing and family relations and there is insufficient time to tackle the causes of the offender's behaviour. The reoffending rate following a community sentences is 37.9%.

4. Norfolk Probation area staff supervises 122,890 hours of unpaid work by offenders in local communities each year.

5. Norfolk Probation area is responsible for the supervision of approximately 2,600 offenders and employs around 300 members of staff.

6. 'Mow and Grow' works in partnership with Norfolk Probation to support the community payback programme by supervising offenders on unpaid work projects in Norwich and the surrounding areas.

7. For more information, please contact Leanne Boast, Norfolk Probation Communications Officer on: 01603 302 242 (9am to 5.30pm) or on the out-of-hours mobile: 07515 562 431.

Obama Lifts Ban on Stem Cell Research


Scientists applaud his action, which is expected to kick-start efforts to unlock therapeutic potential.

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Separating science from politics with his signature, President Barack Obama lifted the eight-year ban on embryonic stem cell research on Monday.

During a late morning press conference, Obama issued the executive order removing federal funding limits on such research that were first imposed by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, in 2001.

According to the Associated Press, Obama said Monday that he is allowing federal taxpayer dollars to fund significantly broader research on embryonic stem cells because "medical miracles do not happen simply by accident," and promised his administration would make up for the ground lost under his predecessor.

The Obama order does not address a separate legislative ban, which precludes any federal money paying for the development of stem cell lines, according to the AP. The legislation, however, does not prevent funds for research on those lines created without federal funding.

While The New York Times reported that it may take many months for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop new guidelines for stem cell research, scientists were already applauding the president's actions.

"The availability of federal funding for research on cell lines that had been off limits during the Bush administration, coupled with billions of newly available dollars in federal stimulus money, could set the stage for a tidal wave of support that could propel stem cell research well into the next decade -- if things move quickly," said a statement from Stanford University researchers in California.

"This action is both welcome and overdue," Dr. Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine and a governing board member of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, said in the statement. "This vote of confidence from President Obama in the promise of embryonic stem cell research validates and extends CIRM's mission to help millions of people suffering from currently incurable medical conditions. It is also a powerful signal that advances in medical research must be pursued even in times of economic difficulty."

Dr. Joseph Heyman, board chairman of the American Medical Association, said: "The AMA supports biomedical research on stem cells and has encouraged strong public support of federal funding for this research. Today's action by President Obama will help scientists realize the potential of stem cell research to benefit the many Americans living with diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's."

Peter T. Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in Short Hills, N.J., said in a statement, "With a stroke of his pen, President Obama acknowledged the will of the majority of Americans and harnessed the power of the federal government to move research forward. By removing politics from science, President Obama has freed researchers to explore these remarkable stem cells, learn from them and possibly develop effective therapies using them."

The general enthusiasm followed a wave of similar sentiments last month when initial reports of the new policy came out of a closed-door meeting between Obama and House of Representatives' Democrats.

Stem cell research received a big boost in January, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever human trial using embryonic stem cells as a medical treatment. Geron Corp., a California-based biotech company, was given the OK to implant embryonic stem cells in eight to 10 paraplegic patients who can use their arms but can't walk.

In 2001, then-President Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research only to human embryonic stem cell lines that already existed.

The decision prompted some scientists to worry that the United States would fall behind other countries in the drive to unlock the potential of stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cells are the most basic human cells, believed to be capable of growing into any type of cell in the body. Working as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells. The scientific hope is that stem cells may, at some point in the future, become capable of treating a variety of diseases and conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease and spinal cord injuries, according to the NIH.

National polls continue to find that the majority of Americans favor embryonic stem cell research, although some surveys have found that that support has declined somewhat in recent years.

Many people object to the use of embryonic stem cells, contending that the research requires the destruction of potential life, because the cells must be extracted from human embryos.

The stem cells being used in the recently approved Geron trial were obtained from one of the Bush administration's approved stem cell lines. And no federal funds were used in the development of this treatment.

Since the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research took effect, many research institutions have redirected their focus to other types of stem cells, such as adult stem cells.

Adult stem cells can give rise to all the specialized types of cells found in tissue from which they originated, such as skin. But, scientists don't agree on whether adult stem cells may yield cell types other than those of the tissue from which they originate, according to the NIH.

Women With Breast Cancer Gene Favor Preventive Mastectomy


Most carriers view the procedure as best security against the disease, study finds.

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Women who know they carry a gene that puts them at higher risk of breast cancer tend to opt for preventive mastectomy, a new study concludes.

Several type of risk management strategies are available to women found to have a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which is known to elevate a woman's risk of breast cancer. These range from simply having more frequent screening exams to the preemptive removal of a breast.

Researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston interviewed women who were tested for the mutation. They researchers found that roughly two-thirds of women who tested positive for the BRCA mutation believed that a preventive mastectomy was the most effective way to prevent breast cancer from developing or reduce their worry about the disease.

Only 40 percent of women who tested negative for the mutation saw the surgery as the best preventative and only a third thought the procedure was the best way to alleviate their worry about having breast cancer.

"Health care providers and genetic counselors must take this into account when assessing a woman's needs at the time of genetic testing and results disclosure," the authors wrote in the April 15 issue of Cancer.

The researchers found that 81 percent of women who saw preventive mastectomy as the best way to reduce cancer risk ended up having the procedure after testing positive. Slightly more (84.2 percent) had the surgery if they viewed it as the only way to reduce worry about possible breast cancer.

Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll

Many are skipping medical, dental visits because of financial concerns.

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- More than three-quarters of adult Americans who have health insurance say they still worry about paying more for their medical care, and nearly 50 percent say they're "very" or "extremely" worried about the issue, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll shows.

More than half (57 percent) of those polled said they feared losing their health insurance sometime in the future, which may explain another key finding in the poll -- sizeable numbers of Americans said they're skipping doctor visits or not getting prescriptions filled to save money.

Middle-aged Americans -- people too old to be blasé about their health but too young to be covered by Medicare -- seemed most worried about paying their health care bills. Among insured individuals aged 45 to 64, a full 84 percent said they were concerned that rising health care costs would exceed their ability to pay.

Only 8 percent of all insured Americans polled were "not at all worried" about getting health care coverage.

"Many are, in fact, not filling prescriptions, skipping a doctor's visit, not following up on something that was recommended by the doctor, taking a medication less or pill-splitting, doing without dental care," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll.

He added that with the economy in a tailspin and many Americans losing their employer-based health insurance, the problem may only get worse. "If the number of uninsured rises sharply, one would expect to see these numbers increase," Taylor said.

One consumer advocate wasn't surprised by the results of the poll, which included 2,078 adults surveyed between Feb. 25 and 27.

"Even for people who have insurance, increasingly, the costs have been shifted to them -- and those costs have risen," said Carol Pryor, policy director at The Access Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to making health care available to more Americans. More and more, she added, insured Americans are paying higher deductibles and co-pays, stretching their ability to get proper medical care.

Pryor agreed with Taylor that the situation is only likely to get worse, since "more people are becoming uninsured as a result of the economic meltdown."

Some other key findings from the poll:

* 78 percent of adults with health insurance worry about paying more for their medical care.
* Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of all insured adults say they're worried about how they can afford to pay for medical care and prescription drugs, with that number rising to 76 percent among people aged 45 to 54. Even among those aged 65 and over -- most of whom are eligible for Medicare -- 62 percent say they worry about paying for the care they need.
* Over the past year, one in five insured adults skipped filling a prescription because of the cost. That number jumped to 30 percent for those without insurance.
* Similarly, cost concerns led 24 percent of the insured and 51 percent of the uninsured to forgo seeing a doctor for a specific medical problem. Twenty-one percent of the insured and 33 percent of the uninsured didn't get a recommended follow-up test or treatment for the same reason.
* Trying to cut down on medical expenses, 14 percent of the insured and 19 percent of the uninsured took a medication at a lower dose than that recommended by a doctor.
* Dental care took the biggest hit: 51 percent of the uninsured and 30 percent of the insured skipped necessary dental care over the past year due to financial concerns.

Forgoing care to save costs over the short term may not save costs over the long term, the experts warned. "Some things do go away on their own over time," Pryor said. "But there are a lot of conditions that get worse if they aren't treated, and they then require more expensive care later. So it's definitely a gamble."

Taylor noted that the statistics on the percentage of Americans skipping needed care have remained about the same since 2007, when Harris first asked these types of questions. That may seem odd given the recent downturn in the economy, he added. But, he noted that even if a few million Americans lose their health insurance, that's still only 2 percent of the adult population -- not enough to show up in this type of survey.

The new poll results come on the heels of a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit advocacy group Families USA. It found that a third of Americans under the age of 65 -- nearly 87 million people -- went without health care coverage at some point over the past two years.

The most recent U.S. government statistics suggest that 16 percent of all adults (including those 65 and older) have no health insurance. And a Commonwealth Fund report published last June found that the number of "underinsured" -- people who have insurance that doesn't fully meet their health care needs -- rose by 60 percent between 2003 and 2007.

The issue gained momentum in the nation's capitol last Thursday, when President Barack Obama convened a long-anticipated White House summit on health care reform. The Associated Press reported that Obama made a point of bringing a wide range of views to the table -- voices representing the insurance industry, patient groups, physicians and even those advocating a single-payer system.

"Every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered," Obama said during the summit. "The status quo is the one option that is not on the table."

According to Pryor, one item that should be up for discussion in Washington is the plight of the underinsured.

"Covering the uninsured is only part of the problem," she said. "Unless reform includes adequate, comprehensive and affordable coverage, just having insurance will not be protection -- either from facing barriers to care or concern over one's financial stability. And after all, those two things are the function of insurance."