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Health Highlights: June 12, 2012

Last Updated: June 12, 2012.


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

WHO Expert Panel Cites Diesel Exhaust as Carcinogen

Diesel exhaust causes cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in a ruling released Tuesday after a weeklong discussion.

The agency, a part of the World Health Organization, said its decision means that diesel exhaust could be ranked as important a public health threat as secondhand smoke, CBS News and the Associated Press reported.

The risk of developing cancer from diesel fumes is small but so many people breathe in the fumes that boosting the status of diesel exhaust from probable carcinogen to carcinogen was an important change, said the agency.

"It's on the same order of magnitude as passive smoking," said IARC Director Kurt Straif, CBS/AP reported. "This could be another big push for countries to clean up exhaust from diesel engines."


Bioethics Council Backs Use of Eggs from Two Women to Create Embryo

Couples at risk of having a baby with certain genetic diseases should be allowed to use eggs from the mother and another woman to produce a healthy embryo, but only if such procedures are proven safe, an influential British bioethics group said in a report released Tuesday.

"If these novel techniques are adequately proven to be acceptably safe and effective as treatments, it would be ethical for families to use them," according to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Associated Press reported.

In 2008, British scientists were the first to announce that they had created embryos using eggs from two women and sperm from one man. Currently, this technique is only allowed for research in the U.K.

The bioethics council said it would likely take several years for researchers to prove that this method is effective and safe, the AP reported.


Proposed NYC Ban on Large Sugary Drinks Goes to Health Board

A proposal to ban large sugary drinks from New York City eateries is scheduled to be formally submitted to the city's board of health Tuesday, even though a new poll finds that about half of New Yorkers think the ban goes too far.

The board is expected to hold a series of public meetings during a 90-day comment period on the proposed rule, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg says is needed in order to fight the rise in obesity deaths, the Associated Press reported.

The ban would apply only to sweetened drinks over 16 ounces that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. It would not apply to diet soda or any other calorie-free drinks.

It's the first time a city has proposed such a measure, the AP reported.


Study Findings Could Improve Cervical Cancer Prevention

Researchers say their finding about where and how cervical cancer begins could lead to better prevention of the disease.

The team discovered that most cases of cervical cancer are triggered when human papillomavirus infects a specific population of stem-like cells located near the opening of the cervix, Agence France-Presse reported.

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

Each year, nearly 530,000 women worldwide are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 275,000 die from the disease, according to the World Health Organization, AFP reported.


Gay Parenting Study Generates Controversy

Controversy is swirling around a study that found that young adults from broken homes in which a parent had a same-sex relationship had slightly more mental health and social problems than others from homes fragmented by divorce and other problems.

Participants's parents were classified as gay or lesbian if they had ever had a same-sex relationship, even if the parents did not identify themselves as gay or lesbian, The New York Times reported.

The study, which was funded by conservative foundations and published Sunday in the journal Social Science Research, was attacked by gay-rights groups as being biased and poorly done.

However, many outside experts said the study was rigorous and provides some of the best data yet comparing outcomes among adult children with a gay parent and those with a heterosexual parent, The Times reported.

However, the experts also said the findings are not particularly relevant to the ongoing debate over gay marriage or gay parenting.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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