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Smokers more likely to need spinal surgery

Smoking increases the risk of lower back pain that needs to be fixed by spinal surgery, a Swedish study suggests. Researchers focused on a common cause of lower back pain known as lumbar spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The condition often develops as people age, but nicotine’s constriction …

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Married heart patients more likely than singles to survive

People with heart disease have better long-term survival odds when they are married, a recent US study suggests. Compared to divorced, widowed and never-married peers, who were up to 71 percent more likely to die during a follow-up of several years, married patients also had fewer heart risk factors like high blood pressure and were more likely to be on …

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Immune cells linked to very early spread of breast cancer

Normal immune cells that live near milk ducts in healthy breast tissue may play a key role in helping early breast cancer cells leave the breast for other parts of the body, researchers say. This could possibly cause cancer to metastasize, or spread, even before a tumor has developed, according to Dr. Julio Aguirre-Ghiso of The Tisch Cancer Institute at …

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Treatment against blindness to sell for $850,000 in US

NEW YORK: Luxturna, a medication against hereditary degeneration of the retina that can lead to total blindness, will be sold for $850,000 in the United States, making it one of the world’s most expensive medical treatments. It is administered in a single dose, according to its manufacturer, Philadelphia-based Spark Therapeutics. It will retail for $425,000 per eye, which is less …

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Stem cell transplant offers hope for scleroderma patients

MIAMI: A stem cell transplant works better than medicine to extend the lives of people with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease in which the skin hardens and organs break down, researchers said Wednesday. The findings in the New England Journal of Medicine point to a new way of treating the incurable disease, which affects some 2.5 million people worldwide, most of …

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Epilepsy drugs work for most patients, but there’s room for improvement

Most people with a new diagnosis of epilepsy will remain seizure free with their first or second antiepileptic drug, but there’s still a need for better treatments, according to a new report. Researchers studied nearly 1,800 patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, tracking them from 1982 to 2014. At their most recent check-up, 80 …

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In world’s worst cholera outbreak, vaccine talks hang in the balance

LONDON/GENEVA: A cholera epidemic in Yemen, one of the worst ever recorded, is likely to surge again around March, giving global health experts a few months to get vaccines in to the war-torn country to try to limit the next wave of cases. Some three million doses of oral cholera vaccine are currently available in a global stockpile designed for …

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Pharma bro’ Shkreli convicted of aiding fraud scheme

A New York lawyer who once advised Martin Shkreli was convicted on Wednesday of helping him defraud a pharmaceutical company, a charge a different jury cleared the drug executive of when it found him guilty of securities fraud earlier this year. Evan Greebel, who was outside counsel to Shkreli’s former company Retrophin Inc, was found guilty by a federal jury …

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France to probe Lactalis baby milk salmonella scare

PARIS: French prosecutors have opened a probe into salmonella contamination and a major international recall of baby milk produced by dairy giant Lactalis, a legal source told AFP on Tuesday. The investigation will focus on possible charges of causing involuntary injuries and endangering the lives of others but also possible cheating and failures in carrying out a product recall, the …

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Common blood pressure drug tied to increased risk of skin cancer

People who take a certain water pill prescribed to control fluid retention and treat high blood pressure may be more likely to get skin cancer than other individuals, a Danish study suggests. While the drug, hydrochlorothiazide, has long been linked to an increased risk of sunburns, the current study offers fresh evidence that this commonly prescribed medication may also make …

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