Health Highlights: Oct. 14, 2009

"In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal," said institute president Sharon Camp, the Associated Press reported. "But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women's health and threaten their survival."

The study, which called for further relaxing of abortion laws in developing nations, found that more than half the worldwide deaths (38,000) occur in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the lowest rates of contraception and the highest rates of accidental pregnancies.

The survey also found that increased contraceptive use has resulted in fewer abortions worldwide, the AP reported.


More than One Billion People Hungry: U.N.

More than one billion people -- a sixth of the global population -- are undernourished, says a U.N. report released ahead of World Food Day on Friday.

The annual report on global food security said the number of hungry people had been increasing before the economic crisis, which has made the situation even worse, BBC News reported.

"No nation is immune and, as usual, it is the poorest countries and the poorest people that are suffering the most," said the document from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program.

The largest number of hungry people are in Asia and the Pacific (642 million), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (265 million), BBC News reported.

The number of hungry people in the world is at its highest since 1970.

"The World Food Summit target of reducing the number of undernourished people by half to no more than 420 million by 2015 will not be reached if the trends that prevailed before [the economic crisis] continue," the U.N. said.


Stents Tested for Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

A clinical trial to determine if drug-coated stents can treat erectile dysfunction in men with coronary artery disease will be conducted by Medtronic Inc.

The stents will be implanted in the pelvic arteries of men who haven't benefited from treatment with drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, the Associated Press reported.

The trial is still being designed, but the first procedure has been performed, Medtronic said Tuesday. The study will enroll 50 men and the results are expected in 2011.

Stents are widely used to treat heart disease.

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