Daily Briefing: Coal and Cancer, Vaccination and Avastin

Published on
July 20, 2012

Environmental Health: The U.S. Geological Survey has found toxic compounds around mountain-top removal coal mining sites in Appalachia. The reports are preliminary, but the pollution may be associated with the area’s high cancer rates. Another researcher, in work funded by the coal industry, found that chemicals released by mining were not an independent risk factor for cancer, but said that the industry has contributed to a culture of poverty and other risk factors.

Vaccines: Around 18,000 people have been infected with pertussis so far this year, perhaps because more people are opting not to have their children immunized with the DaPT vaccine. Many of the sick children, however, have been vaccinated and are over 10, potentially indicating that the pertussis vaccine is wearing off earlier than expected, reports Laura L. Meyers for Reuters.

Readmission Rates: Medicare officials think the rate at which patients have to return to hospitals for corrective care could be lower and have created incentives to drive improvement. But those incentives have produced few results, reports Jordan Rau for Kaiser Health News.

Obesity: Researchers have proposed a method of assessing health risks by looking at where fat is stored on the body, rather than simply looking at total body mass. A body shape index could replace the body mass index, reports Melissa Healy for the Los Angeles Times.

Fake Drugs: Christopher Weaver and Jeanne Whalen trace the tortuous path of counterfeit Avastin, from Turkey to the United States, for the Wall Street Journal.

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Image by ILoveMountains.org via Flickr