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June 29, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
This weekend, foie gras — fattened duck or goose liver — will vanish from California restaurants and gourmet groceries. And that has sent Sean Jordan on a one-man "foie gras bender. " The Hollywood television producer resident knows that the pricey delicacy obtained from force-fed birds has been condemned by animal rights activists. Concerns about cruelty are what drove legislators in Sacramento to make California the first state in the nation to ban sales and production of the product.
June 27, 2012 | By Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic
If you want to eat foie gras in California before July 1, especially at a feast dedicated to the smooth, super-fatted duck liver, your pâté may be seasoned with a grain or two of political theater. Outside Santa Monica's Mélisse earlier this month, there were news trucks, a cordon of friendly police officers, protesters waving crumpled posters showing unhappy waterfowl and rumpled counter-protesters with their own propaganda fliers, dancing around the periphery like boxers waiting to get into the ring.
June 18, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots Blog
Flavocoxid--an arthritis treatment marketed as an effective counter to joint inflammation-- appears to cause "clinically significant liver injury" in some patients, and physicians should probably discourage their patients from taking it, says a new study and its accompanying editorial. Drawing on the records of 877 patients followed by the national Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, researchers publishing in the Annals of Internal Medicine cite three cases in which flavocoxid use was found to be the "very likely" cause of acute liver injury, and a fourth in which liver injury was found to be "possibly due to" flavocoxid use. All four patients recovered their full liver function after discontinuing use of flavocoxid.
June 12, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
More than a quarter of L.A.'s homeless adults are infected with the hepatitis C virus, and nearly half of them don't know it, UCLA researchers reported this week. Almost none of them have been treated for the infection, suggesting that the public health system could face a major financial burden as their infections progress to cirrhosis of the liver and end-stage liver disease. The hepatitis C virus, known as HCV, represents a potentially lethal infection. It is transmitted through the blood, primarily by needles used for injecting drugs.
May 21, 2012 | By Claire Noland, Los Angeles Times
Robin Gibb, a singer and songwriter who joined two of his brothers in forming the Bee Gees pop group that helped define the sound of the disco era with the best-selling 1977 soundtrack to"Saturday Night Fever," has died. He was 62. Gibb died Sunday after battling cancer and while recuperating from intestinal surgery, family spokesman Doug Wright announced. This spring Gibb had been hospitalized in London with advanced colorectal cancer. He had intestinal surgery in March and, after contracting pneumonia, was unable to attend the April 10 premiere in London of "The Titanic Requiem," a classical composition he wrote with his son, Robin-John, to coincide with the 100th anniversary observance of the luxury ocean liner's sinking.
May 6, 2012
Re "Hepatitis a new worry for baby boomers," May 2 In the late 1960s I was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching school in Uganda. I became ill and required blood transfusions. Fast forward 30 years and I'm donating my own blood for surgery. Imagine my surprise when the Red Cross informed me that I had hepatitis C, something I had never heard of. I had contracted it from those long-ago transfusions. Once my initial panic subsided, I was fortunate to find an excellent heptologist who eventually persuaded me to undergo treatment.
April 27, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II / For the Booster Shots blog
Medical errors tend to occur more frequently at night and on weekends due to increased sleepiness, shortage of staff and a variety of other factors. Overall, such errors represent a significant problem for the medical community. A 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine showed that all medical errors -- including daytime errors, as well as night and weekend mistakes -- cause as many as 98,000 deaths each year and cost as much as $29 billion annually. Transplants are considered a source of concern by many experts because the surgeries occur when organs become available, and that is just as likely to be at an off-hour as during normal business hours.
December 3, 2011 | By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times
Norman Smith, who has liver cancer, was placed on the transplant list at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last year. But early this year, doctors removed him because he was using medical marijuana and failed to show up for a drug test. To get back on the list, Smith, 63, has to spend six months avoiding medical marijuana, submitting to random drug tests and receiving counseling. He is still undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for the cancer, which recently returned after being in remission.
November 10, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
Should alcoholics who have blown out their livers be eligible to receive new livers from organ donors? The answer has been no - at least not until these patients have demonstrated that they won't squander a new organ. Patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis are usually required to go six months without a drink in order to get on the transplant list. But this requirement, while understandable given the scarcity of livers for patients in need, amounts to a death sentence for 70% to 80% of these patients; most of them don't even last two months without a new liver.
November 8, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier, who died Monday at the age of 67 after a brief bout with liver cancer, also had diabetes -- a major risk factor associated with the disease. Diabetes has been associated with the highest percentage (34%) of cases of the most common type of liver cancer, according to research by the National Cancer Institute. (The next highest was alcohol-related disorders, with 24%). Men and older adults are at higher risk of the cancer as well.
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