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Biomedicine: Stem Cells Cure Rare, Fatal Disease

Medical researchers reported last week that they had used stem cells from umbilical cord blood and bone marrow to cure a 2-year-old boy of a rare and usually fatal genetic disease called recessive epidermolysis bullosa. They say the new treatment could move it off the list of incurable diseases.

Life expectancy in the United States has reached a record high of 78 years, researchers reported. But America ranks 29th in life expectancy among U.N. member nations. The top spot belongs to Andorra, with an average life expectancy of 83, followed by Japan, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland.

The safety of the U.S. food supply again made headlines last week as public health officials continued their search for the source of a salmonella outbreak in tomatoes. Meanwhile, about 50 countries reportedly still harbor suspicions about American beef after a case of mad cow disease was found in Washington state back in 2003.

A daily measure of U.S. happiness and stress was hailed by researchers for its comprehensive nature. The index is based on 1,000 in-depth interviews nightly. And a new study looked at how our sense of fairness affects our outlook and decisions.

Another study released last week found that men who are deficient in vitamin D have more than double the risk of suffering a heart attack. But two other studies found that Type 2 diabetics do not reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes by tightly controlling their blood-sugar levels.

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