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Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2012

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

40 Now Sickened in Beef-Linked Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

An outbreak of salmonella illness linked to tainted ground beef has now spread to 40 people across eight states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

On July 22, food giant Cargill recalled over 29,000 pounds of fresh ground beef products linked to the outbreak. According to the CDC, investigators say the illnesses are linked to beef processed at a single Cargill Meat Solutions facility.

So far the cases reported include 18 in New York state; 11 in Vermont, three in Massachusetts; two each in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia; and one each in Maine and West Virginia. Eleven cases have resulted in hospitalization, the CDC said, but no deaths have been reported.

Consumers are advised to check their refrigerators and freezers for the recalled products and not eat them. More information on the recalled products can be found at the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service under "Recent Recalls," at www.fsis.usda.gov.

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Chemotherapy Might Backfire, Spur Cancer Growth: Study

In a surprise finding, scientists say that chemotherapy might prompt tumors to emit a substance that helps maintain malignancy and boost resistance to drug therapy.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle tested a form of chemotherapy on prostate cancer tissues and found that healthy cells damaged by the cancer therapy secreted more of a protein called WNT16B, which seems to boost the survival of cancer cells.

"The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected," study co-author Peter Nelson told Agence France-Presse. "WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumor cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy," he explained.

The findings, published Aug. 5 in Nature Medicine, were later confirmed in breast and ovarian tumors. The study authors say the insight might help explain why cancer often develops resistance to chemotherapy over time. It might also point to treatments that might help block that resistance.

"For example, an antibody to WNT16B, given with chemotherapy, may improve responses (kill more tumor cells)," Nelson told AFP.

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