SciTech

HealthLine

Voters concerned about health-care

An online survey conducted last month by graduate students at American University found that, overall, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 ranked healthcare as their third most pressing concern when evaluating candidates’ positions in preparation for the 2008 presidential election.

Approximately one-third of those surveyed thought that they may not have health insurance in the future. The majority of survey respondents agreed that the issue was important because health-care affects the entire population, regardless of age or social class.

Some respondents felt that the institution of a universal healthcare system would have the ability to improve health coverage for the greatest number of citizens, while others felt that such a program was not economically feasible and that the government should focus first on other issues.

Source: The Washington Post

Human hair may hold crime clues

Researchers at the University of Utah discovered that local drinking water leaves chemical residues in human hair. Since the isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen in drinking water vary from region to region, each person’s hair holds a record of where he or she has recently lived or traveled. Thus when provided with a hair sample, police may be able to track the recent whereabouts of the criminal to whom it belongs.

Researchers gathered hair samples from barbershops and tap water samples in 65 cities in 18 states across the country and mapped the change in isotope ratios.

The method is already being used by police forces, such as the Salt Lake City Police Department, to figure out the locations of unidentified murder victims prior to their deaths.

Source: LiveScience

More deaths caused by faulty heparin

The number of deaths associated with a particular brand of heparin, a blood thinner made from pig intestines, has risen to 21 from the original four reported, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Federal drug regulators report that the source of the problem may be the Chinese plant that supplied the active ingredient for the drug.

The drug is distributed by Baxter International, which has since announced a recall of all of its heparin products to prevent any future deaths.

FDA officials have planned to conduct several further inspections, the results of which are pending.

Source: The New York Times

Genital defects rise

Scientists in England have discovered an increase in the number of boys born with genital abnormalities, which they believe may be caused by environmental chemicals.

The study, which began in 2001, found that 7 percent of the 700 boys tested were born with undescended testicles, up from 4 percent in 1992. While some of the boys’ testicles descended on their own within a couple of years, others required surgery.

Boys born with undescended testicles are eight times more likely to develop testicular cancer and up to seven times more likely to be infertile.

Source: The Times Online