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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Calif. city plans to provide transgender surgeries

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco is preparing to become the first U.S. city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender residents. The city's Health Commission voted Tuesday to create a comprehensive program for treating transgender people experiencing mental distress because of the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identities. San Francisco already provides transgender residents with hormones, counseling and routine health services, but has stopped short of offering surgical interventions, Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said Thursday after the vote was announced.

Pot votes in 2 states challenge US drug war

DENVER (AP) — First came marijuana as medicine. Now comes legal pot for the people. Those who have argued for decades that legalizing and taxing weed would be better than a costly, failed U.S. drug war have their chance to prove it, as Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow pot for recreational use.

Study: Stem cells from strangers can repair hearts

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Researchers are reporting a key advance in using stem cells to repair hearts damaged by heart attacks. In a study, stem cells donated by strangers proved as safe and effective as patients' own cells for helping restore heart tissue. The work involved just 30 patients in Miami and Baltimore, but it proves the concept that anyone's cells can be used to treat such cases. Doctors are excited because this suggests that stem cells could be banked for off-the-shelf use after heart attacks, just as blood is kept on hand now.

Man with bionic leg to climb Chicago skyscraper

CHICAGO (AP) — Zac Vawter considers himself a test pilot. After losing his right leg in a motorcycle accident, the 31-year-old software engineer signed up to become a research subject, helping to test a trailblazing prosthetic leg that's controlled by his thoughts. He will put this groundbreaking bionic leg to the ultimate test Sunday when he attempts to climb 103 flights of stairs to the top of Chicago's Willis Tower, one of the world's tallest skyscrapers.

Unprecedented ‘black mold’ meningitis a challenge

WASHINGTON (AP) — The black mold creeping into the spines of hundreds of people who got tainted shots for back pain marks uncharted medical territory. Never before has this particular fungus been found to cause meningitis. It's incredibly hard to diagnose, and to kill — requiring at least three months of a treatment that can cause hallucinations. There's no good way to predict survival, or when it's safe to stop treating, or exactly how to monitor those who fear the fungus may be festering silently in their bodies.

Study: Aspirin may help treat some colon cancers

NEW YORK (AP) — Aspirin, one of the world's oldest and cheapest drugs, has shown remarkable promise in treating colon cancer in people with mutations in a gene that's thought to play a role in the disease. Among patients with the mutations, those who regularly took aspirin lived longer than those who didn't, a major study found. Five years after their cancers were diagnosed, 97 percent of the aspirin users were still alive versus 74 percent of those not taking the drug.

Questions for Medicare in meningitis outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is coming under scrutiny in the meningitis outbreak that has rekindled doubts about the safety of the nation's drug supply. The giant health insurance program for seniors long ago flagged compounded drugs produced for the mass market without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration as safety risks. In 2007, Medicare revoked coverage of compounded inhaler drugs for lung disease.

APNewsBreak: Questions for Medicare in outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is coming under scrutiny in the meningitis outbreak that has rekindled doubts about the safety of the nation's drug supply. The giant health insurance program for seniors long ago flagged compounded drugs produced for the mass market without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration as safety risks. In 2007, Medicare revoked coverage of compounded inhaler drugs for lung disease.

APNewsBreak: Tenn.’s meningitis has likely peaked

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's chief medical officer says the rate of new infections from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak appears to be declining in the state where it was first discovered. "I think we're on the downhill part of the epidemic curve," Dr. David Reagan said in an interview on Thursday. Still, Reagan cautioned that he expects to see new infections in the state, and there likely will be more deaths.

Study: Multivitamins may lower cancer risk in men

America's favorite dietary supplements, multivitamins, modestly lowered the risk for cancer in healthy male doctors who took them for more than a decade, the first large study to test these pills has found. The result is a surprise because many studies of individual vitamins have found they don't help prevent chronic diseases and some even seemed to raise the risk of cancer.

Dirty shoes? How did steroids get contaminated?

NEW YORK (AP) — Was it some moldy ceiling tiles? The dusty shoes of a careless employee? Or did the contamination ride in on one of the ingredients? There are lots of ways fungus could have gotten inside the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy whose steroid medication has been linked to a lethal outbreak of a rare fungal form of meningitis.

Medical marijuana advocates want drug reclassified

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court in Washington is considering whether marijuana should be reclassified from its current status as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition by medical marijuana advocates to change the classification, which kept marijuana in the same category as drugs such as heroin. The DEA concluded that there wasn't a consensus opinion among experts on using marijuana for medical purposes. The petition had been filed in 2002.

FDA: Pharmacy’s other drugs may be causing illness

NEW YORK (AP) — Two more drugs from a specialty pharmacy linked to a meningitis outbreak are now being investigated, U.S. health officials said, as they urged doctors to contact patients who got any kind of injection from the company. The New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has been under scrutiny since last month, when a rare fungal form of meningitis was linked to its steroid shots used mostly for back pain.

CDC: Meningitis outbreak growing, 14 people dead

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials have tracked down 12,000 of the roughly 14,000 people who may have received contaminated steroid shots in the nation's growing meningitis outbreak, warning Thursday that patients will need to keep watch for symptoms of the deadly infection for months. "We know that we are not out of the woods yet," Dr. J. Todd Weber of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said as the death toll reached 14.

Friend describes fatal beauty surgery at Pa. hotel

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia woman known as "the Black Madam" performed deadly cosmetic surgery on a London dancer in an airport hotel room, then used Krazy Glue to close the wounds and fled when the client went into respiratory distress, a witness testified Wednesday. A judge upheld a third-degree murder charge against Padge Gordon after the victim's friend testified about getting silicone injections to enlarge their buttocks in February 2011.

Friend describes deadly beauty surgery at Pa. inn

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia woman known as "the Black Madam" performed deadly cosmetic surgery on a London dancer in an airport hotel room, then used Crazy Glue to close the wounds and fled when the client went into respiratory distress, witnesses testified Wednesday. A judge upheld a third-degree murder charge against Padge Gordon after the woman's friend testified about getting silicone injections to enlarge their buttocks in February 2011.

2 US scientists win Nobel chemistry prize

NEW YORK (AP) — Two Americans won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of how the cells in our bodies pick up signals as diverse as hormones, smells, flavors and light — work that is key to developing better medicines. Those signals are received by specialized proteins on cell surfaces. Dr. Robert Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian Kobilka made groundbreaking discoveries about the inner workings of those proteins, mainly in the 1980s, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Puncture perfect

Construction equipment rumbles outside, and Amy Shook lies on her back, her head and knees slightly elevated and tiny needles poking out of her ears and forehead, the backs of her hands, the tops of her feet and the crown of her head. She could not be more calm. Really, she couldn’t be. She’s mother to a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, and her husband, a train engineer, often works out of town.

Alzheimer drug shows some promise in mild disease

BOSTON (AP) — Combined results from two studies of an experimental Alzheimer's drug suggest it might modestly slow mental decline, especially in patients with mild disease. Taken separately, the studies missed their main goals to significantly slow the mind-robbing disease. But pooled results found 34 percent less decline in mild Alzheimer's patients compared to those on a dummy treatment for 18 months.

Docs say spine shots for steroids are usually safe

CHICAGO (AP) — Millions of people get steroid shots in their backs to relieve pain. Now they are probably wondering if it's safe. In 23 states, hundreds, possibly thousands, of back-pain patients are being warned to watch for symptoms of meningitis because of a custom-mixed steroid solution that may have been contaminated with fungus. Five people have died and more than 40 others have fallen ill.