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Reactor reopens after isotope shortage: Canada’s National Research Universal nuclear research reactor, whose shutdown in November caused a worldwide shortage of nuclear isotopes for medical purposes, was restarted on 16 December and is expected to resume isotope production within days. Parliament hastily pushed through legislation to allow the restart without safety upgrades called for by the national regulatory body.
BMJ paper tops US medical journal chart: A BMJ study by Nancy Cook of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and colleagues (BMJ 2007;334:885 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39147.604896.55) showing that reduced dietary sodium intake can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease has been cited by the American Heart Association (www.theheart.org) as one of the top 10 advances of 2007.
Strike has knock-on effect for Israeli medical students: Israel’s four medical school deans warn that unless the government swiftly resolves the two month strike by senior lecturers in the country’s universities hundreds of medical students will be stuck in their preclinical studies and be unable to proceed to work in hospitals.
Motor neurone mortality rises: The death rate in people with motor neurone disease rose steadily from 1975 to 2004 in both sexes in England, Wales, and Scotland. Increases were largely restricted to those aged ≥60 years, with this group showing rises in the death rate of 70-80% (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 2007:8:337-42). Among those aged ≥60 the gap in mortality between men and women narrowed, say the authors, from Manchester University.
Department warns on vitamin D intake: England’s Department of Health wants pregnant and breastfeeding women to boost their intake of vitamin D in the darker winter months, because more children than ever are presenting with vitamin D deficiency, which can cause seizures and rickets. Incidence of the disease could be as high as 1 in 100 children in ethnic minority groups, the department says.
Two more bird flu deaths are reported: A 25 year old Egyptian woman died on 25 December of avian flu. Of the 39 cases confirmed so far in Egypt 16 have been fatal. Meanwhile a 24 year old woman from Jakarta also died on 25 December; 94 of the 116 cases confirmed so far in Indonesia have been fatal. The sources of both exposures are being investigated.