Health Highlights: July 8, 2009

A five-year study, published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, found that nearly 25 percent of suicides take place on Wednesdays, followed by Mondays or Saturdays, which were tied with 14 percent, MSNBC reported.

Researchers had typically considered Monday the day of despair. But now they theorize that the Internet's ability to keep people feeling connected over the weekend may be responsible for the shift, making mid-week job stress more of a problem than weekend solitude.

"By Wednesday, the traffic has gotten to be too much, their co-workers are getting on their nerves and they can't figure out how they're going to make it to the end of the week," the report's lead author, Augustine J. Kposowa, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, told MSNBC.

Also, contrary to earlier research that showed more suicides in winter and spring, the new study found almost no seasonal differences -- a change that Kposowa also attributes to technological connectedness. Winter doesn't isolate folks the way it once did, he said.

He and his colleagues studied deaths among people age 18 and older from all 50 states from 2000 through 2004. About 30,000 people in that group took their lives each year on average, they found.


U.S. Doctors Complete Largest Kidney Transplant Chain

In what's believed to be the largest chain of organ donations in history, U.S. doctors at four hospitals in four states completed eight kidney transplants over three weeks.

For this kidney swap, 10 doctors performed 16 surgeries on eight living donors and eight recipients at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and INTEGRIS Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oklahoma, the Associated Press reported.

This type of kidney transplant chain is arranged when a number of people who need transplants have relatives or friends who are willing to donate kidneys but aren't compatible. Each donor in the chain is matched with a compatible recipient they don't know.

The kind of multistate exchange performed in recent weeks could greatly reduce the number of kidney patients waiting for eligible donors, said Dr. Robert Montgomery, chief transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"We hope this creates a movement that encourages other transplant centers to adopt the model we used," he said at a news conference held a few hours after the last transplant was performed Monday night, the AP reported.


Sperm From Stem Cells Claim Challenged

Claims by British scientists that they used a new technique to create human sperm from embryonic stem cells are being challenged by other experts.

The technique would enable researchers to study sperm development and possibly lead to treatments for male infertility, Karim Nayernia, of Newcastle University, said in a statement Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute was also involved in the research.

However, other British scientists are skeptical about the research and note that the sperm cells created in the laboratory were abnormal.

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