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Health Highlights: April 18, 2016

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

NFL Concussion Settlement Upheld by Appeals Court

A landmark settlement forcing the National Football League to pay retired players for concealing from them the dangers of repeated head hits was upheld Monday by an appellate court.

The settlement, which could see the NFL pay thousands of retired players up to $5 million, was challenged by some players who said it did not provide sufficient compensation to players, The New York Times reported.

The deal was approved nearly a year ago by a district court judge in Philadelphia.

In its ruling Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit acknowledged the challengers' concerns but decided the settlement was for the greater good of all players, The Times reported.

"They risk making the perfect the enemy of the good," the court wrote of the players who challenged the deal. "This settlement will provide nearly $1 billion in value to the class of retired players. It is a testament to the players, researchers and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love. Though not perfect, it is fair."

The next step for the challengers would be to take their appeal to a larger panel of judges at the Third Circuit or to seek a Supreme Court hearing. However, legal experts say both options stand little chance because the appeals court ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the settlement, The Times reported.

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Pancreas Cell Transplants Reduce Type 1 Diabetes Patients' Risk of Complications: Study

People with type 1 diabetes who received transplants of insulin-producing pancreas cells had a significantly reduced risk of severe drops in blood sugar that can lead to seizures and even death, a new study says.

These islet cell transplants are allowed in other countries, but in the United States are available only as part of research. These findings may help efforts to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of this type of transplant for the small number of type 1 diabetes patients at high risk for such severely low blood sugar, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded study included 48 patients who had at least one islet cell transplant. After one year, 88 percent had not suffered severely low blood sugar and their blood sugar levels remained in near-normal ranges.

After two years, 71 percent of patients were still doing that well, according to the study in the journal Diabetes Care.

Also after one year, 52 percent of the patients no longer required insulin shots and others used lower insulin doses, the AP reported.

"Cell-based diabetes therapy is real and works and offers tremendous potential for the right patient," according to study lead author Dr. Bernhard Hering, University of Minnesota. He and his colleagues say they will seek an FDA license for the therapy.

About 1 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that make insulin. They depend on regular insulin shots to survive, but can still suffer complications due to fluctuating blood sugar levels.

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Teen Ordered to Undergo Chemotherapy Says New Mass Found in Lungs

A Connecticut teen who was ordered by the courts to receive chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma revealed on her Facebook page Saturday that a new mass has been found in her lungs.

Cassandra Callender, 18, was in remission after five months of chemotherapy she underwent when she was 17. She had fought against having the treatment for her cancer, saying she did not want to poison her body, the Associated Press reported.

At the time, she and her mother said they wanted to investigate more natural alternative treatments.

Callender is now legally old enough to make her own treatment decisions and said in a text message to the AP that she is "moving forward with alternative treatments."

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Large Health Coverage Gains for Minorities Under Affordable Care Act

Immigrants, minorities and low-wage workers had the most significant gains in health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act during its first full year, according to a New York Times analysis.

The largest rise in coverage rates was among immigrants of all backgrounds, including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens.

The analysis also found that Hispanics accounted for nearly one-third of adults who gained coverage, even though Hispanics account for just 17 percent of the overall U.S. population, The Times reported.

Other minority groups also had large gains, along with low-wage workers such as cashiers, hairdressers, waiters, cooks and dishwashers.

By the end of the Affordable Care Act's first full year, 2014, the number of low-income people who were newly-insured was so large that it stopped the decades-long widening gap in coverage between poor and better-off Americans, The Times reported.

However, the law has a long way to go before achieving the objective of universal coverage, partly due to the fact that 19 states have refused to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor.


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