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Headlines: November 7, 2011

by Kyle Thomson


A new analysis by the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that prolonged periods of sitting and physical inactivity account for upwards of 90,000 cases of cancer each year.  Breast cancer and colon cancer, in particular, have a high correlation with physical inactivity.  Even those who exercise regularly and otherwise maintain a healthy lifestyle may have an increased risk of cancer just by remaining sedentary for extended periods of time.  According to the research, however, breaking up long inactive periods with even mild exercise for a few minutes helps reduce the risk of cancer by reducing the levels of molecules associated with cancer. 

Last week, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $3 billion to the federal government to resolve criminal and civil investigations into the company’s marketing of drugs for unapproved uses.  The deal comes as the U.S. has taken a more direct role in regulating the advertising of pharmaceuticals for unapproved uses.  Since 2000, the number of settlements the federal government has reached with pharmaceutical companies has skyrocketed, with some of the largest companies hit the hardest.  This settlement is the largest of its kind, trumping similar settlements by Pfizer for $2.3 billion and Eli Lilly for $1.3 billion, both in 2009.

A recent nationwide study found that mortality rates for the H1N1 flu in children were much higher in otherwise healthy children who have a pre-existing infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MSRA.  The study looked at the most severe cases of flu in the U.S., focusing on children who were admitted to pediatric intensive care units.  It found that those with severe infections were 8 times as likely to die if they had MSRA when compared to children who only had an H1N1 infection.  The findings are important because of the increasing percentage of children who are found to be infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria and illustrate the necessity to update screening practices for MSRA.


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