Health Highlights: Feb. 1, 2012

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

ALS Researcher Dies of Disease He Studied

A renowned American researcher who spent nearly two decades trying to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease died Friday of the degenerative neuromuscular disease.

Dr. Richard Olney, 64, spent 8 years fighting the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the Associated Press reported.

In 1993, Olney created the ALS Center at the University of California to seek treatments for the disease, which causes a gradual loss of muscle control. The center currently serves 375 patients. Olney resigned from the center in 2004 to look after his own health.

About 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS and 10,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed every year, the AP reported.


Breast Cancer Charity Severs Ties With Planned Parenthood

Partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates in the United States have been terminated by the nation's leading breast cancer charity.

The decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure means that Planned Parenthood will no longer receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams, the Associated Press reported.

Pressure from anti-abortion groups is the reason for the move, according to Planned Parenthood. The group said it received about $680,000 in Komen grants last year and $580,000 the previous year.

Komen said the main reason for its decision is that Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Congress. The probe was launched by a conservative Republican at the urging of anti-abortion groups, the AP reported.


Study Identifies New Location for Brain Speech Center

Speech processing is located in a different area of the brain than has long been believed, according to a new study.

Since the late 1800s, it's been thought that speech was processed in at the back of the cerebral cortex, behind the auditory cortex which receives sound, Agence France-Presse reported.

But American scientists who reviewed more than 100 brain imaging studies say the speech processing center is actually three centimeters closer to the front of the brain, and is in front of the auditory cortex.

"Textbooks will now have to be rewritten," said study lead author Josef Rauschecker, a professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center, AFP reported.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Indoor Tanning Salons Lie About Health Risks: Investigation

Most indoor tanning salons do not tell customers the truth about potential health risks, says a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee investigative report.

Posing as fair-skinned 16-year-old girls, investigators contacted 300 indoor tanning salons across the nation. Ninety percent of the salons told the callers that indoor tanning did not pose health risks, ABC News reported.

More than half of the salons denied that indoor tanning increased the risk of skin cancer and more than three-quarters said indoor tanning actually benefits the health of teen girls.

The American Academy of Dermatology applauded the investigation.

"The potential effect of this report is huge," Dr. Suzanne Connolly, vice president of the AAD, told ABC News. "We must grab the attention of our population and educate them. It's a big opportunity for improving health by reducing risk through education."


Brazilian Blowout Maker Settles California Lawsuit

As part of a lawsuit settlement, the company that makes popular Brazilian Blowout hair straightening products says it will warn consumers that two of its formulations emit formaldehyde gas, a possible carcinogen.

The lawsuit was filed in November by California's attorney general, the Associated Press reported.

North Hollywood GIB LLC also agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and penalties for failing to alert consumers and hair stylists that its products may contain cancer-causing chemicals, and will have all its products tested for toxic substances at a state-approved lab.

The company will also supply salons with a pamphlet outlining recommended safety precautions, the AP reported.


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