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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

About 5 million Americans have an erratic heartbeat, twice the estimate most often cited for the potentially fatal disorder, according to a study published online this week by the journal Circulation.

The number of people with atrial fibrillation, in which the heart's upper chambers quiver rather than beat, is near a level that scientists previously believed would not be reached until 2050.

A November 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that obesity is an important risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

Abnormal Liver Function Is Cited in Tylenol Study

Healthy adults taking maximum doses of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results in a small study, researchers found, raising concerns that even recommended amounts of the popular painkiller might lead to liver damage.

In the study, 106 participants took four grams of Tylenol -- equivalent to eight extra-strength Tylenol tablets -- each day for two weeks. Some took Tylenol alone, and others took it with an opioid painkiller. Dummy pills were given to 39 others.

There were no alarming liver test results among those who took the placebos. But nearly 40 percent of people in the other groups had abnormal results that would signal liver damage, noted the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Youngest Underage Drinkers At Greater Risk of Alcoholism

Underage drinkers are at greater risk of becoming alcoholics as adults than those who abstain before age 20, a new study reports in the journal Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

The study found that 45 percent of those who begin drinking at ages 14 to 20 become alcohol-dependent later in life, compared with 10 percent of those who start drinking after age 20.

"Those who drink at younger ages develop dependency more rapidly, as soon as 21 years of age," said Ralph W. Hingson, lead author of the study and professor at Boston University School of Public Health in Boston.

Breast Milk Gives Preemies Better Mental Acuity Later

The tiniest premature infants fed with breast milk in the hospital did better on tests of mental development later in life than did others fed only formula, reports a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

The research is the first to show the benefits of breast milk for babies born weighing less than 2 pounds, 3 ounces. For these infants, brain development that normally would occur in the womb during the third trimester of pregnancy must occur in the hospital, said study co-author Betty R. Vohr of Brown Medical School.

Ingredients in breast milk, particularly fatty acids, seem to help the brain develop properly, she said.

-- From News Services

Breast Milk Gives Preemies Better Mental Acuity Later

The tiniest premature infants fed with breast milk in the hospital did better on tests of mental development later in life than did others fed only formula, reports a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

The research is the first to show the benefits of breast milk for babies born weighing less than 2 pounds, 3 ounces. For these infants, brain development that normally would occur in the womb during the third trimester of pregnancy must occur in the hospital, said study co-author Betty R. Vohr of Brown Medical School.

Ingredients in breast milk, particularly fatty acids, seem to help the brain develop properly, she said.

-- From News Services


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