From Our 2012 Archives

Health Highlights: Jan. 26, 2012

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Founder of French Breast Implant Company Arrested

The founder of a breast implant company that used substandard silicone in the implants was arrested Thursday by French police.

A judge ordered the arrest of Jean-Claude Mas in connection with a manslaughter investigation by prosecutors in the city of Marseille. He could be held in custody for up to 48 hours, Agence France-Presse reported.

Police also arrested Claude Couty, another former executive of the PIP breast implant company. It was shut down and its products banned in 2010 after it was discovered that the company had used industrial-grade silicone in its implants, which have abnormally high rupture rates.

French health officials have advised 30,000 women in the country with PIP implants to have them removed. Between 400,000 and 500,000 women worldwide are believed to have received PIP implants, AFP reported.

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No Obvious Medical Explanation for Mysterious Skin Disease: CDC

There is no obvious medical explanation for a mysterious skin disease whose sufferers report a crawling sensation under or on their skin and fibers emerging from the skin, says a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The study was launched because of intense public interest in Morgellons, as the controversial condition is called by some, beginning in 2002. Researchers analyzed data from 3.2 million people in California and identified 115 patients with symptoms of the condition, USA Today reported.

While 70 percent of sufferers reported fibers or other materials emerging from their skin, the researchers found no evidence of that.

The findings, published this week in the journal PLoS One, reveal that the condition is rare and that it is neither contagious or environmentally based, Mark Eberhard, director of CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases, told USA Today.

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Experts Call for More Research on Risks of Nanomaterials

Not enough is known about the potential health and environmental risks of nanomaterials and further study is required, says a report released Wednesday by an expert panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Nanomaterials are tiny substances that have been introduced into the marketplace over the last decade in products such as paint, clothing and cosmetics. The nanotechnology market is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade, The New York Times reported.

The panel said that "critical gaps" in understanding about nanomaterials have been identified but "have not been addressed with needed research."

They recommended a four-part research effort to find ways to learn more about the potential health and environmental effects of nanomaterials, The Times reported.

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Psychiatrists Debate Classifying Grief as Treatable Disorder

Grieving could become a treatable psychiatric disorder if proposed changes to the American Psychiatric Association's standard diagnostic manual get adopted.

Work on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, has launched a debate about the definition of depression. The current wording excludes bereavement, which some psychiatrists say hurts people who need help coping with their loss.

The DSM, last revised in 1996, is the major resource for psychiatric professionals and a source of many insurance decisions, affecting millions of people.

"There is the potential for considerable false-positive diagnosis and unnecessary treatment of grief-stricken persons," said New York researchers on one side of the debate, according to the New York Times.

Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center, New York City, agreed. In a statement, he said that "Grieving is a healthy process. Sometimes we need to treat those who have suffered a loss with sleep aids or other medications, but to make this process a medical condition that would enable large scale prescribing of drugs would be a travesty," he said.

However, another expert supports the new terminology. "Depression can and does occur in the wake of bereavement, it can be severe and debilitating, and calling it by any other name is doing a disservice to people who may require more careful attention," Dr. Sidney Zisook, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, told the newspaper.

Currently, to qualify for a diagnosis of depression, five of nine symptoms are needed for at least two weeks. These include loss of concentration, sleeping too much or too little, feelings of worthlessness and recurrent thoughts of suicide.

Other proposed changes to the manual have also stirred controversy. Experts last week argued against a proposal to tighten the autism definition, noting that the change would bar many currently diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder from receiving important services.

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