Today’s Headlines – Sept. 2, 2011

Happy Friday! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports on a new study of the health problems suffered by 9/11 first responders.

The New York Times: Study Suggests Higher Cancer Risk For 9/11 Firefighters
A new study says firefighters who toiled in the wreckage of the World Trade Center in 2001 were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than those who were not there, the strongest evidence to date of a possible link between work at ground zero and cancer (Ember, 9/1).

Los Angeles Times: 9/11 Study: Multiple Health Woes Persist For Rescue Workers
Ten years after two jets crashed into the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks, scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of the disaster. Now researchers led by a team from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City have reported anew that physical and mental illnesses were very common across a large group of 9/11 emergency responders — and remained persistent for 10% to 30% of them a full nine years after the disaster (Brown, 9/1).

For more headlines …

The Wall Street Journal: Study Points to WTC Cancer Link
Firefighters who worked at Ground Zero are 19% more likely to have cancer than their colleagues who did not work at the site, according to newly published research that could pave the way for government payments to those suffering from some types of cancer. The research marks the first substantive findings on the difficult question of whether working at the World Trade Center site increased cancer risk. … Published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Lancet, the research led by Dr. David Prezant, the head doctor for the New York Fire Department, concludes that an association between World Trade Center exposure and cancer is “biologically plausible” due to findings of “a modest excess of cancer in exposed firefighters” (Barrett and Waller, 9/2).

The Associated Press/USA Today: Dusty Legacy Of 9/11 Still A Medical Mystery
A decade’s worth of study has answered only a handful of questions about the hundreds of health conditions that people … suspect are related to the tons of gray dust that fell on the city when the trade center collapsed. While people have blamed everything from strange rashes to skin cancer on the dust, the list of illnesses even tentatively linked to the disaster is short (9/1).

The New York Times: Clinic Rejects Immigrants After Impasse With Hospital
After the collapse of negotiations between Atlanta’s public hospital and the world’s largest dialysis provider, a dozen immigrants suffering from renal failure were refused treatment at an Atlanta clinic on Thursday and advised to wait until their conditions deteriorated enough to justify life-saving care in an emergency room. Unless the deadlock is broken, 22 patients, most of them illegal immigrants, face a debilitating cycle. Rather than receiving dialysis three times a week, as is standard protocol for cleansing their blood of toxins, they must wait until they are in sufficiently serious jeopardy to trigger the federal law that requires hospital care (Sack, 9/1).

The New York Times / Texas Tribune: For Disabled, Cuts Could Affect Lifelong Improvement
For Milla Powell, a 12-year-old from Austin with cerebral palsy, the little things make all the difference. Massage therapy to ease her tightened muscles. Recreational programs, in which therapists take her into the community to help her build her social skills. Music therapy to help Milla, who cannot speak, connect without words. But services like these are on the chopping block for thousands of Texans with disabilities — another casualty of the significant budget cuts that state lawmakers passed in May (Ramshaw, 9/1).

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Biden’s Claim That The GOP Will ‘Eliminate’ Medicare
Biden’s essential point is that the GOP plan would “eliminate Medicare in the next 10 years.” Does it? …  Biden gets points for acknowledging there is a debate over what the premium support plan would mean for seniors. But even if you think Biden is just expressing an opinion, he crosses a line here by flatly saying the GOP plan “eliminates” Medicare in a decade (Kessler, 9/1).

NPR: Military Medicine’s Long War Against Malaria
Most people know “the Walter Reed” as a mammoth military medical center in Washington, D.C., where both U.S. presidents and ordinary war-wounded soldiers get their care. … (But) the center’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, housed for the past decade on its own campus in Maryland, just outside Washington, is one of the world’s premier research centers for infectious diseases. No other place has done as much to prevent and treat malaria. And certainly, no one has done it so cheaply (Knox, 9/1).

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Requires Health Insurers To Publicly Justify Big Rate Hikes
Health insurers will have to start publicly justifying big rate hikes, according to a new requirement of the federal healthcare law that is meant to put pressure on insurance companies to hold down skyrocketing premiums. The new rule, which went into effect Thursday, will mandate that insurers post on their websites explanations of premium increases exceeding 10% and submit the hikes to state and federal regulators, who also will post them starting this year (Levey, 9/2).

Los Angeles Times: Authorities Raid Suspected ‘Prescription Mills’
Federal and local law enforcement officials on Thursday raided four medical clinics in the San Fernando Valley suspected of operating as “prescription mills” that catered to addicts seeking heroin-like painkillers and other drugs (Girion, 9/2).

NPR: Efforts Founder To Track Long-Term Safety Of Silicone Breast Implants
Silicone breast implants can cause problems for women who have them, and many have to have surgery to remove or replace the devices within 10 years. But implant manufacturers have done such a poor job of tracking problems that a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel says it may be time for a nationwide database of women with implants (Shute, 9/1).