Health Highlights: Sept. 14, 2008

The gender of your boss may affect your physical and mental health, according to University of Toronto researchers who analyzed data on 1,800 working adults in the United States.

The study found that women who worked under both male and female supervisors had higher levels of distress and physical symptoms than women with one male manager, while women who worked under a lone female supervisor reported more distress and physical symptoms than women who worked under a male supervisor, United Press International reported.

Men who worked under either a lone male or female supervisor had similar levels of distress. Men who were supervised by both a male and a female manager had lower distress levels and fewer physical symptoms than men who worked for a lone male supervisor.

The study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.


Brain Infection Kills Patient Who Took Rituxan

A woman who took the arthritis and cancer drug Rituxan died of a rare viral brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. The woman died more than a year and a half after she stopped taking the drug for arthritis.

The FDA said this is the first reported cases of PML in a patient who took Rituxan for an approved use. The drug is also approved for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. There have been previous reports of PML in patients who took Rituxan for unapproved uses, such as treatment of blood cancer, the Associated Press reported.

The patient in this latest case had chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer in the months before she developed PML, according to information on the FDA Web site.

Rituxan is marketed in the United States by Genentch and Biogen Idec. Genentech sent a letter about the woman's death to doctors earlier this month and a company spokeswoman pointed out that the drug's label already mentions risks of the infection.

"The patient had a number of confounding factors that make it difficult to assess the potential role, if any, that Rituxan exposure may have played," said Tara Cooper, the AP reported.


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