Health Highlights: Sept. 24, 2009

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

Obesity Could Become Leading Cause of Cancer in Women: Study

For women in Western nations, being overweight or obese could become the leading cause of cancer within 10 years, says a new study.

Currently, obesity accounts for up to 8 percent of cancers. But European researchers said that could dramatically increase due to the obesity epidemic and a sharp decline in major causes of cancer such as smoking and hormone replacement therapy for women, the Associated Press reported.

    • Obesity Could Become Leading Cause of Cancer in Women: Study
    • FDA Requests Review Of Medical Device Approval System
    • Food Production Must Increase 70 Percent By 2050: U.N.
    • Green Tea May Protect Bones: Study

The researchers calculated that in 2002, being overweight or obese was associated with 70,000 of two million cancer cases in 30 European countries. By 2008, at least 124,000 cases of cancer were linked with obesity. The researchers found that colorectal cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women and endometrial cancer accounted for 65 percent of all cancers associated with being overweight or obese.

The study was presented Thursday at the joint meeting of the European Cancer Organization and the European Society for Medical Oncology.

"Obesity is catching up at a rate that makes it possible it could become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade," said Andrew Renehan, a cancer expert at the University of Manchester in England, the AP reported.


FDA Requests Review Of Medical Device Approval System

In response to criticism by safety advocates and others, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked the federal Institute of Medicine to review the agency's approval system for certain types of medical devices.

The institute will examine the FDA's 510k review procedure, which allows companies to immediately introduce products similar to those already on the market, the Associated Press reported.

This system was designed to hasten approval of simple medical devices such as wheelchairs and bandages, but has been used to approve high-risk devices such as heart implants and hip replacements.


Food Production Must Increase 70 Percent By 2050: U.N.

A 70 percent increase in global food production will be needed to feed the 9.1 billion people who will be on the Earth in 2050, says the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Currently, the world's population is 6.8 billion.

While the FAO said it was "cautiously optimistic about the world's potential to feed itself by 2050," there will be a number of significant challenges, said FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem, Agence France Presse reported.

In its forecast, the FAO said most of the world's population growth will occur in developing countries. "Sub-Saharan Africa's population is expected to grow the fastest (up 108 percent, 910 million people), and East and South East Asia's the slowest (up 11 percent, 228 million)."

The FAO also predicted that about 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities or urban areas by 2050, compared with 49 percent today, AFP reported.


Green Tea May Protect Bones: Study

Chemicals in green tea may help slow bone breakdown, according to a Chinese study.

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong exposed cultured bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to a number of major ingredients of green tea for several days. One of the compounds, epigallocatechin, increased the activity of an enzyme that promotes bone growth by as much as 79 percent, United Press International reported.

Also, high concentration of epigallocatechin blocked the activity of osteoclasts, which are cells that break down or weaken bones. There was no evidence that epigallocatechin had any toxic effects on bone cells, the news service said.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.