Health Highlights: Oct. 2, 2017

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

Rock Legend Tom Petty Dies at 66

Tom Petty, iconic rocker and frontman for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has died at 66.

The musician, whose band had hits with classics such as "Free Fallin'" and "American Girl," was taken to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital after suffering a full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday night. According to CBS News, Petty was found unconscious and not breathing and died later at the hospital.

Petty and his band broke into fame in the 1970s and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. They garnered legions of fans and continued to tour over the past four decades.

Petty's last show was at the Hollywood Bowl last Monday, where he and the Heartbreakers played three sold-out performances to end their 40th anniversary tour.

Speaking in December to Rolling Stone, Petty seemed unsure of how long the band's hectic touring pace could last.

"It's very likely we'll keep playing, but will we take on 50 shows in one tour? I don't think so," he said. "I'd be lying if I didn't say I was thinking this might be the last big one. We're all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I'd like to see as much as I can. I don't want to spend my life on the road. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that's a lot of time."

Besides his work with the Heartbreakers, Petty released three solo albums and was also a member of the 80s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, teaming up with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Petty also had his own Sirius XM channel, complete with an interview show dubbed "Tom Talks to Cool People," where he chatted with other music legends.


U.S. Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize for 'Body Clock' Work

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded Monday to a trio of U.S. scientists for their groundbreaking work on what controls one's circadian rhythms, or "body clock."

The three researchers -- Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and Michael Young from Rockefeller University in New York City -- isolated a gene in fruit flies that controls the rhythm of a living organism's daily life, The New York Times reported.

According to the Nobel Prize committee, during decades of research the team was "able to peek inside our biological clock," helping make discoveries that "explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth's revolutions."

The gene guides a protein that accumulates in a cell at night, but degrades during the day.

"With exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day," the committee said. "The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism."

When a person's lifestyle and inner body clock fall out of sync -- as happens with jet-lag, for instance -- that could contribute to an increased risk for various diseases over time, the committee added.


Trump's Health Secretary Resigns Over Travel Controversy

Tom Price, President Donald Trump's secretary of health and human services, resigned Friday afternoon in the wake of revelations he had used charter flights at taxpayers' expense.

The announcement came shortly after Trump had told reporters he considered Price a "fine man" but that he "didn't like the optics," the Washington Post reported.

"I'm not happy, I can tell you that. I'm not happy," Trump said.

Price will be replaced for the time being by Don Wright, who was announced as acting secretary. Wright had been serving as deputy assistant secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

In a four-page letter of resignation to Trump, Price said he regretted "that the recent events have created a distraction" from the administration's objectives. "Success on these issues is more important than any one person," the Post reported.

A one-time congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, Price served less than eight months.

The revelation of Price's use of charter jets instead of commercial ones has prompted scrutiny of other Cabinet members' travel.

Price wrote a check for $51,887.31 for his own travel costs. The total cost of his travels, including his entourage, was unclear, but could be as high as several hundred thousand dollars, the Associated Press reported.

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