Health Highlights: April 26, 2012

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

No Evidence Cellphones Cause Brain Tumors: Experts

There is no convincing evidence that cellphones cause brain tumors or any other types of cancer, according to British experts who conducted a "comprehensive" review of available scientific evidence.

However, possible long-term health effects of cellphone use need to be monitored because the use of cell phones has become widespread only recently, said the Health Protection Agency's independent advisory group, Agence France-Presse reported.

The group also advised against excessive use of cellphones by children.

"Overall, the results of studies have not demonstrated that the use of mobile phones causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer," the group said, AFP reported. "The evidence suggests that radio frequency field exposure below guideline levels does not cause symptoms in humans."


Measures to Prevent Spread of Mad Cow Disease are Effective: FDA

Existing animal feed safeguards meant to prevent the spread of mad cow disease from spreading through feed are effective, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The FDA was responding to the Department of Agriculture's confirmation this week that a dairy cow in California tested positive for atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease). The cow did not enter the animal feed or human food supply.

The FDA is working with federal and state authorities to investigate the case.

"The FDA is confident in the effectiveness of the existing animal feed safeguards designed to prevent the spread of BSE through feed. Although current science suggests that atypical cases of BSE, such as this one, are unlikely to be transmitted through animal feed, the FDA will work with the USDA to complete a thorough epidemiological investigation. Importantly, scientific research indicates that BSE cannot be transmitted in cow's milk," said an FDA news release.

"We will continue to work closely with the USDA and state officials on this public health issue and will provide updates as information becomes available," the FDA said.


Report Challenges VA Claims on Speed of Mental Health Care

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide mental health care to veterans as quickly as it claims, according to an inspector general's report.

While the VA says that 95 percent of first-time patients seeking mental health care in 2011 received an evaluation within the department's goal of 14 days, the VA Office of Inspector General found that only half of patients were seen in that time frame, the Associated Press reported.

A majority of patients waited an average of about 50 days before they underwent a full evaluation.

The VA also says that 95 percent of new mental health patients in 2011 began treatment within 14 days of their desired date. But the inspector general found that this was true for only 64 percent of patients and the rest had to wait an average of 40 days, the AP reported.


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