Health Highlights: Sept. 6, 2007

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

Pavarotti, Opera Superstar, Dead at 71

Luciano Pavarotti, the charismatic opera star who enjoyed worldwide acclaim, died Thursday morning at his home in the northern Italian city of Modena.

The 71-year-old tenor, one of the few opera singers to win widespread fame as a popular superstar, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He was released from an Italian hospital on Aug. 25 and was undergoing treatment at his home until his death, BBC News reported.

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Pavarotti came down with respiratory problems during the summer while on vacation at his villa on the Adriatic coast. He had undergone five rounds of chemotherapy since his cancer surgery last year, the BBC said.

Pavarotti, who was said to be planning a farewell tour, last sang in public in Italy in 2006 during opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Turin.

Pavarotti enjoyed mingling with pop stars in his series of charity concerts, "Pavarotti & Friends," held annually in Modena. He performed with artists as varied as Ricky Martin, James Brown and the Spice Girls, the Associated Press reported.

The performances raised some eyebrows but he always dismissed the criticism.

Some say the "word 'pop' is a derogatory word to say 'not important' -- I do not accept that," Pavarotti told the AP in a 2004 interview. "If the word 'classic' is the word to say 'boring,' I do not accept. There is good and bad music."

Pavarotti also enjoyed chart-topping success as part of the "Three Tenors," which included fellow opera stars Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.


Students, Parents Get Low Marks on Hand Washing

The average student in the United States earns only a "D" when it comes to understanding and practicing basic hand hygiene, according to this year's annual report card from the Soap and Detergent Association.

Parents fared slightly better, getting an overall grade of "C." Moms averaged out at "B-," while Dads earned only a "D+," the trade group said in a statement.

School nurses and health professionals surveyed earned the highest average marks at "B+," while teachers were awarded a "B-."

The group's 2007 "Clean Hands Report Card" was based on telephone interviews and on-site surveys.

The SDA offered this refresher course on effective hand washing:

  • Wet hands with warm running water before using soap.
  • With soap, rub hands together to a lather, away from the running water.
  • Wash the front and back of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse well under warm running water.
  • Dry hands well with either a clean towel or air dryer.
  • Hand sanitizers or wipes will suffice if soap and water aren't available.


Teen Use of Illicit Drugs Declining: Survey

Use of illicit drugs fell to 9.8 percent in 2006 among American teens, down from 11.6 percent in 2002, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said Thursday.

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