Health Highlights: July 6, 2010

By on July 6, 2010

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

Gerontologist Who Coined Word ‘Ageism’ Dies At Age 83

The American gerontologist and psychiatrist who coined the term “ageism” died Sunday in New York City.

Dr. Robert Butler, 83, died of leukemia at Mount Sinai Medical Center, according to his daughter Christine Butler, the Associated Press reported.

Butler, who was founding director of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, wrote a number of books on aging. Perhaps the most famous was the 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning Why Survive: Being Old in America.

In 1968, Butler created the word “ageism” to describe discrimination against older people.

Among his many achievements, Butler played a key role in research proving that senility was not a normal part of aging, but rather a result of disease, the AP reported. He was also founding chairman of the United States’ first department of geriatrics, at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


Task Force Issues New Osteoporosis Screening Guidelines

Younger postmenopausal women should undergo routine screening for osteoporosis because they’re as likely to suffer a bone fracture as older women, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends.

But the new draft guidelines released Monday said there isn’t enough evidence for or against recommending routine screening for men, the Associated Press reported.

“The majority of the evidence supports screening and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women,” said the task force document. “The evidence for primary prevention in men is lacking and future research is needed.”

The draft guidelines were created to update the task force’s 2002 guidelines, which recommend that all women over 65, and those ages 60 to 64 at risk for fractures, should undergo a bone density test, the AP reported.


New Technology May Enable Blind People to Drive

A prototype vehicle equipped with technology that enables a blind person to drive a car is scheduled to be demonstrated next year by U.S. researchers.

The system utilizes sensors that provide information to a blind driver about what’s around the vehicle, such as whether another car or object is in front of the vehicle or in an adjacent lane, the Associated Press reported.

The planned demonstration of the technology — announced Friday by the National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech — will involve a blind person driving a vehicle on a course that simulates a typical driving experience.

“We’re exploring areas that have previously been regarded as unexplorable,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, the AP reported. “We’re moving away from the theory that blindness ends the capacity of human beings to make contributions to society.”


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