Health Highlights: Feb. 6, 2012

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

3D Printer Used to Create Woman’s New Jaw

In a groundbreaking operation, an 83-year-old woman received a new lower jaw created by a 3D printer.

The transplant was performed in June in the Netherlands but is only now being publicized. The woman went home four days after the procedure, BBC News reported.

Doctors decided to use this new technology because they believed reconstructive surgery would be too risky for the patient, who had developed a chronic bone infection.

The jaw implant was made out of titanium powder that was heated and fused together by laser, one layer at a time, BBC News reported.

This success opens the way for the use of more 3D-printed, patient-specific body parts, according to technicians.


Three Cruise Ships Cleaned After Norovirus Outbreaks

The last of three U.S.-based cruise ships that were delayed in port on the weekend due to outbreaks of stomach illness has sailed.

The Princess Cruise Lines’ Ruby Princess departed Sunday from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades after undergoing decontamination following an outbreak of norovirus, which causes upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea, the Associated Press reported.

The Crown Princess, another cruise ship operated by Princess Cruise Lines, was also delayed from leaving Fort Lauderdale because it had to be cleaned after a norovirus outbreak.

A third cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Voyage of the Sea, departed New Orleans a few hours late Saturday for the same reason, the AP reported.


Twitter and Other Social Media Tough Habit to Quit, Study Finds

The urge to tweet or check emails may be stronger than cravings for alcohol and cigarettes, U.S. researchers say.

They studied the ability of 205 people, ages 18-85, to resist their desires over seven days. As each day progressed, the participants’ willpower became weaker, reported the Guardian in the U.K.

Sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires and the use of electronic media had the highest “self-control failure rates,” according to the study to be published in the journal Psychological Science.

“Resisting the desire to work was likewise prone to fail. In contrast, people were relatively successful at resisting sports inclinations, sexual urges, and spending impulses, which seems surprising given the salience in modern culture of disastrous failures to control sexual impulses and urges to spend money,” wrote the team led by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University’s Booth Business School, the Guardian reported.


Drug Slows Prostate Cancer Spread to Bone but Doesn’t Extend Life: FDA

A drug called Xgeva slowed the spread of cancer to the bone in men with difficult-to-treat prostate cancer but did not extend life and caused significant side effects, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review posted online Monday.

The review was made public in advance of a Wednesday meeting of an FDA panel of outside experts who will consider whether to recommend approval of the injectable drug as a preventive measure for patients with recurring prostate cancer that poses a high risk of spreading to the bone, the Associated Press reported.

Xgeva, made by Amgen, is already approved for preventing fractures in cancerous bones. Under a different formulation called Prolia, the drug is also approved for osteoporosis.

The FDA review looked at an Amgen-conducted study that included 1,432 patients and found that Xgeva slowed the spread of cancer to the bone by about 4.2 months compared to placebo, the AP reported.

Five percent of patients taking the drug developed osteonecrosis of the jaw, in which the bone dies due to poor blood supply.


Raw Milk Linked to Illness Outbreak

Raw milk from a dairy in Pennsylvania has been linked to 38 illnesses in four states and the farm has temporarily halted sales.

Health officials said 31 cases of campylobacter bacterial infection have occurred Pennsylvania, four in Maryland, two in West Virginia and one in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported.

Pennsylvania is one of 17 states were some types of raw milk sales are allowed, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Since 2006, Pennsylvania has had at least seven illness outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption, involving nearly 200 people, the AP reported.

Some people prefer unpasteurized milk because they feel it’s healthier than pasteurized milk. However, the federal government says raw milk is unsafe because it may contain disease-causing germs.