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Briefs: major progress in developing synthetic heparin, which is safer

progress in A safer form of heparin

Chemists are reporting a major advance toward developing a safer, fully synthetic version of heparin, the widely used blood thinner now produced from pig intestines. The FDA last spring linked contaminated batches of the product, imported from China, to more than 80 deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions. Scientists expect demand for heparin, which prevents blood clots, to increase due to rising rates of diabetes and heart disease. Study co-author Robert J. Linhardt said that processing of pig intestines to extract the raw materials is often done in unsupervised workshops in China, which supplies about 70 percent of the world's heparin.

Gene studied in prostate cancer

Government estimates are that each year nearly 190,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and roughly 29,000 will die of it, making it the most common cancer detected in American men. Now, University of Wisconsin researchers have pinpointed a gene behavior that could mark susceptibility to prostate cancer, found more often in aging men. The findings could identify men at high risk of developing this cancer or help in finding it early in its development.

Is leg pain a sign of heart disease?

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, characterized by clogged leg arteries and sometimes calf pain, is often a sign of coronary heart disease. Untreated, notes Consumer Reports, it can result in amputation. Detectable by a simple exam, PAD is frequently left out of routine checkups. Experts recommend that doctors test people 70 and older, as well as those ages 50 to 69 who smoke or have diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated levels of bad cholesterol — the LDL kind.

Patients can keep health data online

Health care consumers, especially those with multiple doctors and medications, can maintain their own medication and allergy lists online, thus making the information available in an emergency. One firm providing a Web site for this is MedsFile.com, where annual charges begin at $9.99 for individuals to input health records and emergency contacts. Customers decide with whom to share the access, and the customer also receives an ID card that provides physicians access to the data in the event of a medical emergency.

More support for green tea benefits

It's not clear how green tea boosts metabolism, though researchers suspect some chemical makes the body's fat more available as fuel, so you oxidize more of it when you exercise. In a recent study, extracts from green tea helped men burn 17 percent more fat during a 30-minute cardio workout.

Compiled from Times staff, wires

Briefs: major progress in developing synthetic heparin, which is safer 09/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:35pm]
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