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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) may be the best way to know whether a woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer in the near future, according to a new study.

Negative HPV tests provided women with more reliable assurance that they wouldn’t develop cancer or other abnormal cervical changes in the next three years, compared to traditional Pap tests, researchers report.

“Primary HPV screening might be a viable alternative to Pap screening alone,” said Julia Gage, the study’s lead author from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

About 12,000 U.S. women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010 and about 4,000 died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 91 percent of cervical cancers are thought to be caused by HPV.

Pap smears, which require doctors to collect cells from the cervix to look for abnormalities, have traditionally been used to determine whether a woman is at risk of developing cancer in the near future.

In 2012, the government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended women between ages 21 and 65 years be screened using a Pap test every three years and said those ages 30 to 65 years could instead opt for cotesting, which is a Pap test in combination with a HPV test, every five years.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and affects both men and women. About 79 million people have the infection but most people don’t know they’re infected because symptoms are uncommon.

HPV testing also requires doctors to collect cells like they would during a Pap test but the end result is whether the woman has the virus – not abnormal cells.

“What we wanted to see is whether primary HPV screening could be a good alternative to Pap and compare it to cotesting,” Gage said.

For the new study, the researchers used data from over one million women who were between ages 30 and 64 years and screened for cervical cancer at Kaiser Permanente Northern California since 2003.

The researchers followed women who had a negative Pap or HPV test to see whether they developed cervical cancer during the next three years. They also looked at how many women developed cervical cancer in the five years following cotesting.

Overall, about 20 women out of 100,000 developed cervical cancer in the three years following a negative Pap test. That compared to 11 women out of 100,000 who developed the cancer during the three years after receiving a negative HPV test.

About 14 women out of 100,000 developed cervical cancer in the five years following negative cotests, according to results published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Gage said the findings were not surprising, since HPV is the cause of most cervical cancers.

She cautioned that the results do not foreshadow the death of Pap smears. The tests may still have a role in monitoring whether women with HPV, who are at an increased risk of cancer, go on to develop abnormal cervical cells.

“We always have to reconsider how we’re screening patients and focus on the best way to screen for certain cancer,” said Dr. Mario Leitao Jr., a gynecological surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

“I think this is very interesting because instead of doing (Pap tests) every three years you could do HPV (tests) every three years,” said Leitao, who was not involved with the new study.

He said there will be a lot of variables in deciding which test is best for women.

“The best way to do it is still to be determined but it’s important they have some form of cervical cancer screening at least every three years,” Leitao said.

He added that women also have to be their own advocates and tell their doctors that they don’t need Pap tests every year.

“It shouldn’t be done more frequently than every three years,” he said.

 SOURCE: http://bit.ly/UckC33 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online July 18, 2014.

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DENVER (Reuters) – Three more people in Colorado have been diagnosed with the plague after coming in contact with an infected dog whose owner contracted a life-threatening form of the disease, state health officials said on Friday.

In all, four people were infected with the disease from the same source, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement.

Last week the department said a man in an eastern Colorado county whose dog died of the plague had been diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a rare and serious form of the disease.

The man remains hospitalized, but authorities have not released his condition.

The three people in the latest reported cases had “mild symptoms” and have fully recovered after being treated with antibiotics, the department said, adding that they are no longer contagious.

Two of the patients in the new cases contracted pneumonic plague, the department said.

Pneumonic plague is the only form of the disease that can be transmitted person-to-person, usually through infectious droplets from coughing.

The bacteria that causes plague occurs naturally in the western United States, primarily in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infected canine in Colorado likely contracted the disease from prairie dogs or rabbits, which are the primary hosts for fleas that carry the bacteria.

When an infected animal dies, the fleas spread the disease when they find another host.

Colorado has seen a total of 12 cases of humans infected with the plague over the last decade, said Jennifer House, the department’s public health veterinarian.

“We usually don’t see an outbreak like this related to the same source,” House said.

Colorado had not had a confirmed human case of pneumonic plague since 2004, she said.

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Last June, a full moon —called a “super moon” thanks to its size and brilliance— made headlines across the world because it was 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than other full moons that lit up the sky in 2013.

This summer, sky gazers who marvelled at last summer’s super moon are in luck because all three full moons of summer 2014—occurring on July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th— will be super moons.

According to NASA, “perigee moon” is the scientific term for a super moon. It means the moon is at the point in its orbit that brings it closer to Earth.

Over the next few months, all of the full moons that occur, will occur on the perigee side of the moon’s orbit, making them appear extra big and bright.

In Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan’s Observatory will be open to the public for free on Saturday, July 12 at 10 p.m.

Stan Shadick, who teaches astronomy at the University of Saskatchewan, said Friday that there will also be other things for people to see in the sky on Saturday night.

“People will see that although the moon is much brighter, there are other objects that are much more interesting, like especially Saturn. And they can also take a look at some star clusters,” Shadick said.

Shadick also explained that when a perigee moon occurs there is always an increased potential for localized flooding in coastal communities.

“Whenever high tide occurs, that high tide will be higher than the normal high tide in the month,” Shadick said. “Normally coastal areas take that into account so that is not a problem, unless it’s particularly stormy.”

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Two new reports from the provincial government predict extreme flooding events along the Fraser River* will become more frequent and warn all but one of 15 dikes from Hope to Mission are too low.

One report entitled Fraser River Design Flood Level Update says many of the 146 kilometres of dikes were built in the 1970s and 80s to withstand the largest floods on record dating back to 1894.

But it says new modelling calibrated with data from Fraser River flooding in 2012 found most of the dikes to be too low and confirmed they need to be upgraded.

The second report, Simulating the Effects of Sea Level Rise and Climate Change on Fraser River Flood Scenarios, looked at 170 kilometres along the Fraser from Hope to the river mouth including the densely populated Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions.

It concluded that by the end of this century,  the size of flood that used to occur only once every 50 years will become the type of flood previously only seen once every 200 to 500 years.

The ministry says the reports are issued to assist in flood risk management, floodplain development and dike upgrade planning.

It recommends governments use the information to develop a regional flood protection strategy prioritizing high risk areas.


* he Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for 1,375 kilometres, into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver.Wikipedia

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