Saturday, February 28, 2009

Health Headlines - February 28

Drug Maker Suppressed Data on Antipsychotic: Report

Unfavorable studies on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel were "buried" by U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, according to a December 1999 e-mail unsealed Thursday as part of legal action over the drug, the Bloomberg news service reported.

AstraZeneca faces about 9,000 lawsuits claiming the company failed to properly warn patients that the drug can cause diabetes and other health problems.

In the e-mail, AstraZeneca publications manager John Tumas said the company failed to publicize results of at least three clinical trials of Seroquel and selectively chose data from one of the studies for use in a presentation, Bloomberg reported.

"The larger issue is how we face the outside world when they begin to criticize us for suppressing data," Tumas wrote in the e-mail.

Seroquel is approved in the United States for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In an e-mailed statement, company spokesman Tony Jewell said: "AstraZeneca has studied Seroquel extensively and shared all relevant and required data with the FDA -- both before and after the agency approved it as safe and effective," Bloomberg reported.

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White House to Rescind Health Worker Conscience Rule

A Bush administration rule that gave broad protection to health workers who refuse to take part in abortions or other health care procedures that conflict with their beliefs will be rescinded by the Obama administration, The New York Times reported.

The last-minute Bush law was announced on Dec. 19 and took effect the day President Obama took office last month. On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services served notice that it will repeal the regulation, the Times reported.

The official notice of the Obama administration's intent is expected to be officially published next week. After that, there will be a 30-day period for public comment.

Opponents of the Bush rule welcomed the decision.

"Today's action by the Obama administration demonstrates that this president is not going to stand by and let women's health be placed in jeopardy," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said Friday.

The group and the attorneys general of several states had filed legal challenges against the Bush regulation, which was also opposed by the American Medical Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Times said.

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Black Box Warning Ordered For Heartburn Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's most serious warning will be added to the heartburn drug metoclopramide (brand name Reglan), which has been shown to cause muscle spasms and tics when used for long periods or at high doses, the FDA said.

These problems, including uncontrollable movement of the limbs, face and tongue, are usually irreversible even after patients stop taking the drug, according to the warning, cited by the Associated Press.

The drug is marketed by Schwarz Pharma (tablet form), Baxter International (injectable form) and by a number of generic drug makers. In addition to the black box warning, all manufacturers will be required to provide medication safety guides to users.

More than 2 million people in the United States use metoclopramide, which works by speeding up the muscles used in digestion and relieving painful stomach acid reflux, the AP reported.

"The chronic use of metoclopramide therapy should be avoided in all but rare cases where the benefit is believed to outweigh the risk," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

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Economy Pushing Americans to Cut Needed Health Care

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday found that more than half of Americans cut back on some kind of health care to save money in the past year, the Associated Press reported.

One in four put off general health care needs, including 16 percent who postponed surgery or doctor visits for chronic illnesses. To care for themselves, respondents said they relied instead on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than seeing a doctor or a dentist.

Other findings in the poll, conducted by telephone with 1,204 adults from Feb. 3-12:

  • Overall, 53 percent of Americans cut back on health needs in the past 12 months because of the declining economy.
  • 10 percent delayed seeing a doctor for a chronic illness like diabetes or asthma.
  • 6 percent postponed minor surgery in the doctor's office, while 5 percent delayed major surgery that would have required an overnight hospital stay.
  • 19 percent skipped a doctor's visit for temporary illness or preventive care.

Health Tips for February 28

Health Tip: Prevent Your Children From Choking

For small children, even the most seemingly harmless objects can pose a choking threat.

The U.S. National Safety Council offers these suggestions to reduce your youngsters' risk of choking:

  • Never allow a baby or young child to play with a toy that has a cord or string attached.
  • Don't feed your baby foods that could get stuck in the throat, such as bites of hot dogs, hard candy, uncooked vegetables, nuts, raisins, fruits or vegetables with pits, popcorn or grapes.
  • Never allow your child to eat while lying down.
  • Keep anything that can fit in your child's mouth out of reach, including coins, batteries, jewelry, nails or thumbtacks.

Health Tip: Keeping Your Children Warm in Winter

In bitter winter weather, it's important to make sure children are dressed appropriately.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these recommendations:

  • When babies and children will be outside in bitterly cold weather, dress them up in many light, thin layers, including long underwear, pants, a turtleneck, a few shirts, warm socks, coat, hat and mittens.
  • When dressing your child, add one additional layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same weather.
  • Inside the home, covering your baby with blankets, quilts and pillows in the crib could contribute to sudden infant death syndrome. So dress your baby in a warm one-piece sleep suit, instead of piling on blankets.
  • If you must use a blanket to keep your baby warm, tuck the blanket under the mattress of the crib. Keep the blanket tucked only up to the baby's chest, so that the face can't be covered by the blanket.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Health Headlines - February 27

Economy Pushing Americans to Cut Needed Health Care

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday found that more than half of Americans cut back on some kind of health care to save money in the past year, the Associated Press reported.

One in four put off general health care needs, including 16 percent who postponed surgery or doctor visits for chronic illnesses. To care for themselves, respondents said they relied instead on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than seeing a doctor or a dentist.

Other findings in the poll, conducted by telephone with 1,204 adults from Feb. 3-12:

  • Overall, 53 percent of Americans cut back on health needs in the past 12 months because of the declining economy.
  • 10 percent delayed seeing a doctor for a chronic illness like diabetes or asthma.
  • 6 percent postponed minor surgery in the doctor's office, while 5 percent delayed major surgery that would have required an overnight hospital stay.
  • 19 percent skipped a doctor's visit for temporary illness or preventive care.

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Smarter Living Could Cut World's Cancer Cases, Report Says

A simpler diet, more exercise and better weight control could prevent more than 40 percent of breast and bowel cancers in developed countries, a World Cancer Research Fund report released Wednesday says.

According to the report, almost a third of the 12 most common cancers in the United States, including throat and lung cancers, could be prevented by adopting lifestyle changes. It estimated that 45 percent of colon cancer cases and 38 percent of breast cancer cases were preventable by adopting the small changes. The figures do not, however, account for the impact of cigarette smoking, which is responsible for about a third of all cancers, BBC News reported.

A panel of 23 experts made 48 recommendations for governments, households and schools to curb an expected uptick in cancer cases worldwide in the coming years. "The good news is that this is not inevitable," project chairman Dr. Martin Wiseman, a physician in clinical practice focusing on diabetes and a visiting professor in human nutrition at Southampton University, told the BBC.

Among the panel's recommendations were for governments to plan more walking and cycling routes, and for schools, workplaces and institutions to cut unhealthy foods from vending machines. The food and drinks industry should make public health its top priority in all stages of production, and household shoppers should be more diligent in their purchases, carefully examining labels to ensure they are choosing the healthiest products.

The report was published by the World Cancer Research Fund in conjunction with the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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China to Create Central Food Safety Commission

A central food safety commission will be established in China as part of the nation's efforts to reduce the number of scandals involving dangerous food products, the state news agency Xinhua said Wednesday.

The news agency said the commission will be set out under a new food safety law to be introduced at the annual parliamentary session next month and the commission's mandate will be to strengthen China's food monitoring system, Agence France Presse reported.

Scandals have plagued China's huge and poorly regulated food industry, resulting in public health emergencies and recalls at home and abroad. One of the worst occurred last year when about 300,000 infants were sickened and at least six died after consuming baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Experts say one major reason for the problems is that too many different agencies have jurisdiction over China's food industry, AFP reported.

Health Tips for February 27

Health Tip: Understanding Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of factors that combine to increase a person's risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases, including stroke.

The American Heart Association offers this list of criteria for metabolic syndrome:

  • Excess fat around the abdomen.
  • High triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Difficulty processing insulin.
  • High levels of fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in the blood.
  • High blood levels of C-reactive protein.

Health Tip: Preparing for a Stress Test

If your doctor has prescribed an exercise stress test to monitor how your heart performs during activity, there are a few things you should do before the test.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers these suggestions to help you prepare:

  • For at least three hours prior to the stress test, don't eat or smoke. And don't drink anything that contains alcohol or caffeine.
  • Do not use Viagra within 24 hours of the test. Nitroglycerin (sometimes given during a stress test) may interact with Viagra, resulting in a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
  • Unless your doctor has instructed otherwise, take all of your other medications as you normally would.
  • You'll be exercising during the test, so wear appropriate clothing, including comfortable shoes or sneakers and loose workout clothes.
  • For the test itself, electrodes that monitor your heart's activity will be applied to your chest, and you will pedal, walk or run on a machine while your heart rate is monitored.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Health Tips for February 26

Health Tip: Lift Weights to Boost Your Health

Lifting weights is a great way to build up or tone your muscles. But if you're not careful, you can cause permanent injury.

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these suggestions for safe weight lifting:

  • Remember to always wear sturdy shoes that provide traction when lifting weights. Also make sure that any weight machines are in good working order.
  • Keep your back straight when lifting. Also remember to be careful when carrying weights around the weight room.
  • Always ask someone to spot you when lifting very heavy weights.
  • Always exhale while you lift the weights upward.
  • Limit each set of muscles to only three workouts each week.
  • If your muscles start to hurt, stop lifting.

Health Tip: Helping a Broken Toe Heal

A small toe can be a big pain if it's fractured.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these suggestions to help ease the pain and speed healing of a broken toe:

  • Any fracture, confirmed or suspected, should be evaluated by a physician.
  • Try not to walk on the toe, and keep your weight off the foot as much as you can.
  • Place an ice pack on the toe to minimize swelling and pain. Make sure the ice isn't directly on the skin, and that you don't leave the ice on for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take an over-the-counter painkiller, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Choose a wide shoe with a firm, supportive sole.
  • No exercise, sports or activities until the toe heals, especially the activity that caused the break. Swimming is a good alternative until your toe is feeling better.

Health Headlines - February 26

China to Create Central Food Safety Commission

A central food safety commission will be established in China as part of the nation's efforts to reduce the number of scandals involving dangerous food products, the state news agency Xinhua said Wednesday.

The news agency said the commission will be set out under a new food safety law to be introduced at the annual parliamentary session next month and the commission's mandate will be to strengthen China's food monitoring system, Agence France Presse reported.

Scandals have plagued China's huge and poorly regulated food industry, resulting in public health emergencies and recalls at home and abroad. One of the worst occurred last year when about 300,000 infants were sickened and at least six died after consuming baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Experts say one major reason for the problems is that too many different agencies have jurisdiction over China's food industry, AFP reported.

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Gene May Determine Life Attitude

A single, hormone-delivery gene may determine whether a person is naturally happy or gloomy, say British researchers who conducted a series of psychological and genetic tests on 97 volunteers.

The results showed that participants with the long variant of the 5-HTTLPR gene paid attention to pleasant pictures and screened out distressing images, while those with a short variant of the gene had opposite preferences, Agence France Presse reported.

"The results indicated that a genetically driven tendency to look on the bright side of life is core cognitive mechanism underlying resilience to general life stress," wrote the University of Essex researchers.

The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The 5-HTTLPR gene plays a key role in determining how the neurotransmitter serotonin functions within the brain. Serotonin transmits chemical messages between nerve cells and has been closely linked to mood, AFP reported.

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Texas Peanut Plant Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Peanut butter made from peanuts processed at the Peanut Corp. of America's plant in Plainview, Texas contains the same salmonella strain that caused a nationwide outbreak, federal officials said Tuesday.

The test results suggest that Peanut Corp.'s plant in Blakely, Ga., may not have been the only source of the outbreak, which sickened more than 600 and may have contributed to nine deaths, the Associated Press reported.

Colorado health officials traced salmonella cases in that state to peanut butter sold by the Vitamin Cottage grocery chain. The peanuts used in that peanut butter came from Peanut Corp.'s Texas plant. Two samples of Vitamin Cottage peanut butter from two different consumers tested positive for the salmonella strain that caused the nationwide outbreak.

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Video Game Overuse Causes Skin Disorder

Skin specialists have identified a new skin disorder linked to overuse of video game consoles. The condition -- PlayStation palmar hidradenitis -- is described in a case study by doctors at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland.

They treated a 12-year-old girl who had intensely painful sores on her hands. She couldn't recall any recent trauma to her hands and hadn't done any sports or physical exercise recently, BBC News reported.

However, her parents said she had recently started to play a video game on a PlayStation console for several hours a day, and continued playing even after she developed the sores on her hands.

The doctors cited a combination of factors: tight and continuous grasping of the console's hand grips, repeated pushing of the buttons, and sweating caused by game-related tension, BBC News reported.

The girl made a full recovery after 10 days of not using the game console. The study appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.

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Huge Increase in U.K. Diabetes Rate

From 1997 to 2003, there was a 74 percent rise in the number of new cases of diabetes in the U.K., an alarming increase linked to growing obesity rates, say researchers who analyzed data from nearly five million medical records.

By 2005, more than 4 percent of the U.K. population had diabetes, nearly double the rate of a decade earlier, BBC News reported.

Of the more than 42,000 people newly diagnosed with diabetes between 1996 and 2005, more than 41,000 had later-onset type 2 diabetes, which is associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The findings suggest that diabetes rates in the U.K. are rising faster than in the United States, which has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Health Headlines - February 25

Video Game Overuse Causes Skin Disorder

Skin specialists have identified a new skin disorder linked to overuse of video game consoles. The condition -- PlayStation palmar hidradenitis -- is described in a case study by doctors at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland.

They treated a 12-year-old girl who had intensely painful sores on her hands. She couldn't recall any recent trauma to her hands and hadn't done any sports or physical exercise recently, BBC News reported.

However, her parents said she had recently started to play a video game on a PlayStation console for several hours a day, and continued playing even after she developed the sores on her hands.

The doctors cited a combination of factors: tight and continuous grasping of the console's hand grips, repeated pushing of the buttons, and sweating caused by game-related tension, BBC News reported.

The girl made a full recovery after 10 days of not using the game console. The study appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.

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Huge Increase in U.K. Diabetes Rate

From 1997 to 2003, there was a 74 percent rise in the number of new cases of diabetes in the U.K., an alarming increase linked to growing obesity rates, say researchers who analyzed data from nearly five million medical records.

By 2005, more than 4 percent of the U.K. population had diabetes, nearly double the rate of a decade earlier, BBC News reported.

Of the more than 42,000 people newly diagnosed with diabetes between 1996 and 2005, more than 41,000 had later-onset type 2 diabetes, which is associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The findings suggest that diabetes rates in the U.K. are rising faster than in the United States, which has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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Baby Milk Powder Safe: Wyeth

A U.S. company says its baby milk powder is safe and did not cause kidney stones in Chinese babies.

A Chinese newspaper had reported that at least 20 families claimed their infants developed kidney stones after consuming Wyeth products, Agence France Presse reported.

"At this point, there is no clear evidence showing that these ailments have any link to Wyeth products," the company said in a statement posted on its China Web site Monday. The company said its products have been cleared by Chinese inspectors and said it would cooperate in finding the cause of the kidney stones in the babies.

Similar allegations prompted Chinese authorities to investigate the domestically produced milk powder of Danone Dumex, a unit of French food giant Danone. The company was cleared by China's product-quality regulator, AFP reported.

Last year, milk products contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine sickened about 300,000 infants and killed six.

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Fish Pedicure Banned in Florida

Florida regulators have banned a pedicure treatment in which fish nibble dead skin from the feet or other parts of the body, a procedure that's popular in Asia and has spread to some U.S. cities, the Associated Press reported.

It's not even known if the treatment is offered anywhere in the state, but the Florida Board of Cosmetology said salons have been asking about the legality of the procedure. That prompted the board to take action before the issue became a problem.

A spokeswoman for the Florida board said there were concerns because there's no way to disinfect a pool of fish in between use by different patients, the AP reported.

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas and Washington have also banned the treatment, in which clients put their feet, hands or other parts of the body in a bowl or pool so that small fish can consume soft decaying skin.

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Mental Fatigue Affects Exercise Duration

Being mentally fatigued can make people feel more exhausted when they exercise, according to researchers at Bangor University in Wales, U.K.

Their small study included 16 volunteers who twice rode a stationary bike until they were exhausted -- once when they were mentally rested and once when they were mentally fatigued, United Press International reported.

On average, the participants stopped exercising about 15 percent earlier when they were mentally fatigued. But the researchers found that mental fatigue didn't affect the performance of the heart or muscles. It was the participants' "perceived effort" that determined when they reached physical exhaustion while exercising.

The researchers suggested that mental fatigue may lower the brain's inhibition against quitting exercise, or may affect the brain chemical dopamine, which plays a role in motivation and effort, UPI reported.

The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Health Tips for February 25

Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a disease of the mouth that can damage the gums, ligaments and sockets that surround the teeth.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, people with these risk factors should be extra careful about preventing gingivitis:

  • People with poor dental health or dental hygiene practices.
  • Pregnant women, as certain hormonal changes can increase gum sensitivity.
  • Diabetics who can't manage or control their disease.
  • People with teeth that are poorly aligned, or with braces or fillings with rough edges.
  • People taking certain medications, including birth control pills and phenytoin.

Health Tip: Tobacco and Oral Health

You know that tobacco is bad for your health, and your mouth is no exception.

The American Dental Association says smoking or chewing tobacco can cause or contribute to:

  • Cancers of the mouth.
  • Gum (periodontal) disease, which can lead to lost or sensitive teeth.
  • Bad breath, stained teeth, and even a stained tongue.
  • Reduced ability to taste and smell.
  • Slower healing after oral surgery.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Health Headlines - February 24

White House to Send $15 Billion to States for Medicaid

The Obama administration intends to distribute $15 billion within two days to help cash-strapped states cope with Medicaid payments to the poor.

The $15 billion is part of the newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus program, President Barack Obama told governors during a White House meeting Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Medicaid is underwritten jointly by states and the federal government.

"By the time most of you get home, money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their health care coverage," Obama told the governors.

"Children with asthma will be able to breathe easier, seniors won't need to fear losing their doctors, and pregnant women with limited means won't have to worry about the health of their babies," the President said.

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New Blood Thinner Approved by EU

A new blood thinner called prasugrel has just been approved by European Union regulators.

The drug will be launched in Europe in the coming weeks under the brand name Efient, Eli Lilly & Co. spokeswoman Carole Copland told the Associated Press.

Prasugrel is designed to prevent blood clots in heart disease patients who've have stents implanted to keep their arteries open.

Earlier this month, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency approve prasugrel, the AP reported. The FDA has twice delayed making a decision on the drug but usually follows the advice of its advisory panels.

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Potato Items Pulled From Store Shelves

Several potato products that may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes have been pulled from the shelves of Giant Food and Stop & Shop supermarkets, the Associated Press reported.

The products are 20 oz. bags of Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns, Simply Potatoes Homestyle Slices and Simply Potatoes Red Potato Wedges. The products, which have "use by" dates ranging from March 29 to April 3, 2009, were recalled by Northern Star Co., a subsidiary of food processor Michael Foods Inc.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms and can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

No reports of illness or injuries related to the recalled potato products have been received by Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop or by Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, the AP reported.

Customers who bought the products should throw out any unused portions and bring the receipts to their stores for a full refund, the companies said.

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Job Affects Obesity Risk

Obesity rates are higher among blue- collar workers and those who work shifts and long hours than among white collar workers and those with regular hours and shorter hours, according to a Statistics Canada study.

The analysis of data from two national surveys conducted in 2005 found that men working more than 40 hours a week were more likely to be obese than those who worked 30 to 40 hours a week, and that male and female shift workers were more likely to be obese than those with regularly scheduled work hours, CBC News reported.

Stress caused by long and irregular work hours may be one cause of the higher obesity levels, said study author Jungwee Park, who added that irregular work schedules may also make it more difficult for people to eat a healthy diet.

Park also found a significant link between low education levels and increased risk of obesity in workers ages 35 to 54. Those with less than a high school diploma were 1.6 times more likely to be obese than those with a post-secondary education. However, this kind of association between education and obesity wasn't seen in workers ages 18 to 34, CBC News reported.

The study also found that overall rates of obesity are increasing.

"In 2005, 15.7 percent of employed Canadians aged 18 to 64, or more than two million people, were obese, up from 12.5 percent in the mid-1990s," Park said.

Health Tips for February 24

Health Tip: Causes of Corns

Corns are small bumps that develop on the top or sides of the toes, often because you've worn shoes that rub those toes the wrong way.

Corns are not a serious condition, but they can be painful.

Here are common causes of corns, courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • Having a deformity of the toe, such as a hammer toe.
  • Wearing high heels that pinch the toes or put pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • A seam inside a shoe rubbing on the toes.
  • Poorly fitting socks that allow pressure or friction on the toes.
  • Shoes that are too tight or too loose.

Health Tip: If the Shoe Fits

Making sure that your shoes fit properly can significantly reduce your risk of foot problems.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers these suggestions when trying on and buying shoes:

  • Before you try on a new pair, have both of your feet measured at the store. Your feet can vary in size, and change over time.
  • Stand up while your feet are measured, and do it at the end of the day, when feet are likely to be a bit larger.
  • Make sure that your shoes aren't so tight that they pinch your toes, but they shouldn't be so big that they slide around on your feet.
  • Before you buy, walk around in the shoes to be sure they are comfortable. You should not have to "break them in."
  • Sizes vary between shoes and brands, so go with what fits, not necessarily the size you are used to buying.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Health Headlines - February 23

Peanut Company Recalls All Products in Salmonella Outbreak

The peanut company at the heart of the nationwide salmonella outbreak has now recalled all products made at its Georgia and Texas production plants.

In a statement posted on the Web site of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Peanut Corp., of Lynchburg, Va., said all customers should "not distribute or further use" any food products received from its now-closed Blakely, Ga., and Plainview, Texas, production facilities.

The recall notice expands greatly the company's voluntary actions last month, which covered peanut butter and peanut paste products processed since Jan. 1, 2007.

More than 2,100 products in 17 categories have so far been recalled by more than 200 companies, according to the FDA's Web site. The breadth of the recall -- covering everything from cookies, candies and ice cream to snack bars, prepared meals and dog treats -- makes this one of the largest recalls in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, the outbreak is continuing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of last Thursday, 654 people in 44 states had been sickened by Salmonella Typhimurium, with the most recent reported illness on Feb. 3. There have also been nine deaths in five states linked to the outbreak.

The new statement by Peanut Corp., which declared bankruptcy two weeks ago, also said the company can no longer take action on recalled products and customers should now contact the FDA on all matters related to the recall.

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Unhealthy Lifestyle Boosts Stroke Risk

The risk of stroke is more than doubled by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking too much alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits, according to a British study that included 20,000 adults, ages 40 to 79.

The participants were given one point for each of the following healthy habits: not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to one to 14 units per week, consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and being physically active. More women than men achieved the maximum four points, BBC News reported.

Participants who scored zero points were 2.3 times more likely to have a stroke in the 11 years of follow-up than those who scored four points. For every point decrease in participants' scores, there was an increased risk of stroke, according to the study, published in the British Medical Journal.

Fifteen (5.8 percent) of the 259 people who didn't score any points suffered a stroke, compared to 186 (2.4 percent) of the 7,822 who achieved a score of three, and 1.7 percent of the 5,000 who had a score of four, BBC News reported.

"Together with the substantial existing body of evidence about modifiable behaviors and stroke risk, this may provide further encouragement to make entirely feasible changes which have the potential to have a major impact on stroke," said study leader Dr. Phyo Myint of the University of East Anglia.

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Allergic Children Able to Build-Up Tolerance to Peanuts: Study

British scientists say they've successfully built up tolerance in children with severe peanut allergies.

The study included four children who were given small daily doses of peanut flour mixed into yogurt. Over six months, the doses were increased to the equivalent of five whole peanuts. By the end of the trial, the children could eat at least 10 peanuts without suffering any allergic reaction, Agence France Presse reported.

The findings appear in the journal Allergy.

The researchers at Addenbroke's Hospital in Cambridge are continuing the trial, which now includes 20 children ages seven to 17. Some of them can now eat 12 peanuts a day, AFP reported.

"At the moment we know that if they continue to eat five peanuts a day, their tolerance is maintained. If they were to stop, then there is some evidence that tolerance would be lost and they may have a reaction," said research leader Andrew Clark, a consultant in pediatric allergy.

Health Tips for February 23

Health Tip: Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions can range from very mild to life-threatening. Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention, but even reactions that are milder should be checked out by a doctor.

Here are warning signs of a mild allergic reaction, courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Skin rash.
  • Hives, especially on the neck or the face.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Red or watery eyes.
  • Nasal congestion.

If you have more serious symptoms of an allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, swelling, dizziness, chest discomfort, abdominal pain, or feelings of apprehension and anxiety, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Health Tip: Allergies to the Flu Shot

The flu vaccine is safe for most people, but some people could experience dangerous complications from the flu vaccine, including an allergic reaction.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the following people should not get a flu shot without first speaking to their doctor:

  • Anyone with an egg allergy.
  • Anyone who has had a previous severe reaction to a flu shot.
  • Children younger than 6 months old.
  • Anyone who developed a condition called Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome within six weeks of receiving a previous flu shot.
  • Anyone who is ill with a fever should wait until they are healthy again to have the flu shot.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Health Headlines - February 22

Allergic Children Able to Build-Up Tolerance to Peanuts: Study

British scientists say they've successfully built up tolerance in children with severe peanut allergies.

The study included four children who were given small daily doses of peanut flour mixed into yogurt. Over six months, the doses were increased to the equivalent of five whole peanuts. By the end of the trial, the children could eat at least 10 peanuts without suffering any allergic reaction, Agence France Presse reported.

The findings appear in the journal Allergy.

The researchers at Addenbroke's Hospital in Cambridge are continuing the trial, which now includes 20 children ages seven to 17. Some of them can now eat 12 peanuts a day, AFP reported.

"At the moment we know that if they continue to eat five peanuts a day, their tolerance is maintained. If they were to stop, then there is some evidence that tolerance would be lost and they may have a reaction," said research leader Andrew Clark, a consultant in pediatric allergy.

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Unhealthy Lifestyle Boosts Stroke Risk

The risk of stroke is more than doubled by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking too much alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits, according to a British study that included 20,000 adults, ages 40 to 79.

The participants were given one point for each of the following healthy habits: not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to one to 14 units per week, consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and being physically active. More women than men achieved the maximum four points, BBC News reported.

Participants who scored zero points were 2.3 times more likely to have a stroke in the 11 years of follow-up than those who scored four points. For every point decrease in participants' scores, there was an increased risk of stroke, according to the study, published in the British Medical Journal.

Fifteen (5.8 percent) of the 259 people who didn't score any points suffered a stroke, compared to 186 (2.4 percent) of the 7,822 who achieved a score of three, and 1.7 percent of the 5,000 who had a score of four, BBC News reported.

"Together with the substantial existing body of evidence about modifiable behaviors and stroke risk, this may provide further encouragement to make entirely feasible changes which have the potential to have a major impact on stroke," said study leader Dr. Phyo Myint of the University of East Anglia.

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Sensory Changes Ease Children's Dental Visit Anxiety

Playing soothing music, altering the lighting, and other sensory changes can help ease children's anxiety during a dental appointment, suggests an Israeli study that included 35 youngsters, ages six to 11. Their anxiety levels were monitored during two routine cleaning visits.

The first was a normal visit, with fluorescent lighting and an overhead dental lamp. For the second visit, the researchers removed the overhead lighting, added a slow moving, repetitive color lamp, and the dental hygienist wore an LED headlamp that shone into the child' mouth, CBC News reported.

In addition, the dental chair was modified to vibrate, the children listened to soothing music and they wore a heavy vest designed to feel like a hug.

The changes reduced children's anxious behavior from an average of 3.69 minutes to 1.48 minutes. The reduction was even greater among children with developmental disabilities -- from 23.44 minutes to 9.04 minutes, CBC News reported.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

Health Tips for February 22

Health Tip: Living With Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is characterized by abnormally shaped red blood cells. This can cause the cells to become lodged in blood vessels -- a painful result called a sickle cell crisis.

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these recommendations to help prevent a sickle cell crisis:

  • Avoid alcohol or drink only very little, and don't smoke.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
  • Keep illnesses and health conditions, such as a simple infection or diseases such as diabetes, treated and under control.
  • Avoid stress whenever possible.
  • Make time to exercise -- but moderate exercise only.
  • Don't let yourself get too cold. Dress warmly in winter or when in air conditioning, and avoid swimming in cold water.
  • Talk to your doctor if you snore, or if you have sleep apnea.

Health Tip: Coping With Pet Allergies

If being near a pet makes you sniffle, sneeze, and your eyes water, you may not have to live a pet-free life.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology offers these suggestions:

  • Always wash your hands after you touch a pet. And avoid kissing or hugging your furry friend.
  • Keep cat litter boxes away from vents, and try to limit your exposure to them.
  • Give your pet a bath each week to reduce dander. And try to have a person who isn't allergic regularly brush your pet outdoors.
  • Don't allow pets on upholstered furniture. If necessary, cover the furniture in plastic.
  • Make sure your pet is on a healthy diet to help reduce shedding.
  • Try to eliminate rugs and carpets from your home, and use a double filter or micro-filter bag in your vacuum.
  • Ask your doctor about getting allergy shots to control symptoms.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Health Headlines - February 21

Allergic Children Able to Build-Up Tolerance to Peanuts: Study

British scientists say they've successfully built up tolerance in children with severe peanut allergies.

The study included four children who were given small daily doses of peanut flour mixed into yogurt. Over six months, the doses were increased to the equivalent of five whole peanuts. By the end of the trial, the children could eat at least 10 peanuts without suffering any allergic reaction, Agence France Presse reported.

The findings appear in the journal Allergy.

The researchers at Addenbroke's Hospital in Cambridge are continuing the trial, which now includes 20 children ages seven to 17. Some of them can now eat 12 peanuts a day, AFP reported.

"At the moment we know that if they continue to eat five peanuts a day, their tolerance is maintained. If they were to stop, then there is some evidence that tolerance would be lost and they may have a reaction," said research leader Andrew Clark, a consultant in pediatric allergy.

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Unhealthy Lifestyle Boosts Stroke Risk

The risk of stroke is more than doubled by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking too much alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits, according to a British study that included 20,000 adults, ages 40 to 79.

The participants were given one point for each of the following healthy habits: not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to one to 14 units per week, consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and being physically active. More women than men achieved the maximum four points, BBC News reported.

Participants who scored zero points were 2.3 times more likely to have a stroke in the 11 years of follow-up than those who scored four points. For every point decrease in participants' scores, there was an increased risk of stroke, according to the study, published in the British Medical Journal.

Fifteen (5.8 percent) of the 259 people who didn't score any points suffered a stroke, compared to 186 (2.4 percent) of the 7,822 who achieved a score of three, and 1.7 percent of the 5,000 who had a score of four, BBC News reported.

"Together with the substantial existing body of evidence about modifiable behaviors and stroke risk, this may provide further encouragement to make entirely feasible changes which have the potential to have a major impact on stroke," said study leader Dr. Phyo Myint of the University of East Anglia.

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Sensory Changes Ease Children's Dental Visit Anxiety

Playing soothing music, altering the lighting, and other sensory changes can help ease children's anxiety during a dental appointment, suggests an Israeli study that included 35 youngsters, ages six to 11. Their anxiety levels were monitored during two routine cleaning visits.

The first was a normal visit, with fluorescent lighting and an overhead dental lamp. For the second visit, the researchers removed the overhead lighting, added a slow moving, repetitive color lamp, and the dental hygienist wore an LED headlamp that shone into the child' mouth, CBC News reported.

In addition, the dental chair was modified to vibrate, the children listened to soothing music and they wore a heavy vest designed to feel like a hug.

The changes reduced children's anxious behavior from an average of 3.69 minutes to 1.48 minutes. The reduction was even greater among children with developmental disabilities -- from 23.44 minutes to 9.04 minutes, CBC News reported.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

Health Tips for February 21

Health Tip: If You Have a Food Allergy

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Once the immune system decides to treat a particular food this way, eating that food can prompt the massive release of chemicals known as histamines. These chemicals, in turn, trigger allergic reactions that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and cardiovascular system.

Avoiding these foods altogether is the only sure way to prevent a reaction.

Although someone can be allergic to just about any food, the following edibles account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (including walnuts and cashews), fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

Health Tip: Living With Latex Allergy

Latex is found in a number of common objects -- ranging from dishwashing gloves to rubber toys. The sanitary gloves that doctors and nurses use also are frequently made of latex.

If you've got a latex allergy, the American Academy of Family Physicians offers these suggestions to prevent a reaction:

  • Figure out which items at home and work are made from latex, and find non-latex items as replacements.
  • Be careful around powdered latex gloves and similar products. Even breathing in the powder can be harmful.
  • In a medical situation -- whether you're a worker or patient -- make sure that you or others than you come in contact with wear non-latex gloves.
  • Carry a medical alert bracelet, necklace, or key chain that notes your allergy.
  • Ask your doctor if you should carry an emergency epinephrine injection with you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Health Headlines - February 20

Kansas Gov. Leading Candidate for U.S. Health Secretary

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is a leading candidate for the post of U.S. health and human services secretary, according to White House advisers, The New York Times reported.

Along with her eight years of experience as her state's insurance commissioner and six years experience as a governor running a state Medicaid program, Sibelius is seen as someone who can work across party lines. She's a Democrat in one of the nation's most Republican states.

This could prove vital to President Barack Obama as he turns his attention to health care next week with a plan designed to advance his ideas about covering the uninsured, the Times reported.

If she is appointed health secretary, Sibelius would be welcomed by health advocates.

She "knows health care as well as any governor in the United States," Ronald F. Pollack, executive director of the consumer group Families USA, told the Times.

Former Senator Tom Daschle was Obama's first pick for health and human services secretary, but Daschle withdrew over his failure to pay $128,000 in taxes.

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14,000 Americans Lose Health Insurance Daily: Report

As many as 14,000 Americans a day lose their health insurance and two million have become uninsured since jobs began disappearing in the recession, adding to the 46 million who were already without insurance, according to a report released Thursday.

As jobs continue to vanish, the rate of coverage loss is accelerating, warned the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The number of newly uninsured Americans would be much higher if it werent for people enrolling in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, the group said in a news release.

The growing number of uninsured Americans is one of the major economic challenges facing the country, said the report, which called on politicians to support health care reform that provides coverage for everyone and slows the growth of health care costs.

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China Probing New Kidney Stone Illness in Babies

Chinese parents are blaming a growing number of cases of kidney stones in babies on dairy products made by Dumex Baby Food Co., a subsidiary of France's Groupe Danone SA, the Associated Press reported.

But the company says its products are safe and health officials said tests showed the products do not contain the industrial chemical melamine, which was found in tainted formula that caused kidney problems in hundreds of thousands of children and killed at least six babies last year.

China's Health Ministry has launched an investigation and told all local health bureaus to start monitoring kidney problems in children and to look at their eating habits and living environment, the China Daily newspaper said Thursday, the AP reported.

It's not known how many children have become sick, when they became ill, or what pushed the Health Ministry to launch an investigation into the latest outbreak.

"We're trying to find out why the number of kidney ailments among babies has risen drastically," Ma Yangchen of the ministry's press office, was quoted in the China Daily, according to AP.

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FDA Experts Suggest Change for Next Season's Flu Vaccine

A panel of experts advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended changing one of the three strains of flu included in this season's influenza vaccine for next season's version, the Dow Jones news service reported Wednesday.

Each annual vaccine typically has two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are most likely to strike during the upcoming season. But the decision about which strains to include is made months in advance.

The FDA panel said next season's vaccine should include the same strains of influenza A as this season's shot, but that a newer "B" strain be included in the upcoming vaccine, Dow Jones said.

In a typical season, one or two of the three strains included in the annual vaccine are changed from the prior season, although all three changed in the 2008-2009 flu shot from the year-earlier vaccine, the news service said.

The strains used in the vaccine are grown in chicken eggs. The process of creating the next season's vaccine typically starts in January or February. It takes about eight months to create the 130 million doses needed, Dow Jones said.

Health Tips for February 20

Health Tip: Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing temporarily during sleep. When a person isn't breathing, even for brief periods, it can deprive the blood of oxygen and lead to serious complications.

Here are some common warning signs of sleep apnea that should be evaluated by your doctor. They're provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • A partner notices that you've stopped breathing for brief periods (often 10 seconds or more) during sleep.
  • Feeling tired and lethargic during the day.
  • Having headaches first thing in the morning.
  • Poor quality of sleep, and waking often.
  • Feeling depressed, having problems with concentration and noticing differences in your personality.
  • Snoring loudly, especially as soon as you fall asleep.

Health Tip: Keeping Your Children Warm in Winter

In bitter winter weather, it's important to make sure children are dressed appropriately.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these recommendations:

  • When babies and children will be outside in bitterly cold weather, dress them up in many light, thin layers, including long underwear, pants, a turtleneck, a few shirts, warm socks, coat, hat and mittens.
  • When dressing your child, add one additional layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same weather.
  • Inside the home, covering your baby with blankets, quilts and pillows in the crib could contribute to sudden infant death syndrome. So dress your baby in a warm one-piece sleep suit, instead of piling on blankets.
  • If you must use a blanket to keep your baby warm, tuck the blanket under the mattress of the crib. Keep the blanket tucked only up to the baby's chest, so that the face can't be covered by the blanket.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Health Headlines - February 19

FDA Experts Suggest Change for Next Season's Flu Vaccine

A panel of experts advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended changing one of the three strains of flu included in this season's influenza vaccine for next season's version, the Dow Jones news service reported Wednesday.

Each annual vaccine typically has two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are most likely to strike during the upcoming season. But the decision about which strains to include is made months in advance.

The FDA panel said next season's vaccine should include the same strains of influenza A as this season's shot, but that a newer "B" strain be included in the upcoming vaccine, Dow Jones said.

In a typical season, one or two of the three strains included in the annual vaccine are changed from the prior season, although all three changed in the 2008-2009 flu shot from the year-earlier vaccine, the news service said.

The strains used in the vaccine are grown in chicken eggs. The process of creating the next season's vaccine typically starts in January or February. It takes about eight months to create the 130 million doses needed, Dow Jones said.

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FDA Cuts Inspections of Labs Testing Medical Devices

Enforcement of federal quality regulations at labs that develop medical devices has been scaled back by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a Project on Government Oversight report.

The independent watchdog group found that FDA inspections of "good laboratory practices" at facilities that do early testing of medical devices such as pacemakers, stents and imaging machines declined from 33 in 2005, to seven in 2007, to one in 2008, the Associated Press reported. No FDA inspections are planned for this year.

"The decision ... to not enforce [lab standards] is stunning in its contempt for the protection of patients," the group said in its report.

By focusing its enforcement on clinical trials that involve people, and not on early medical device testing in labs, the FDA says it can make better use of scarce resources and still protect the public, the AP reported.

Critics disagree. "This decision ... may result in an irreversible cascade of adverse consequences to the protection of the public," the Society of Quality Assurance said in a letter to Congress.

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HIV/AIDS Deadliest Infectious Disease in China

HIV/AIDS is now the leading infectious disease-related cause of death in China, according to the state news agency Xinhua .

Between January and September 2008, AIDS killed 6,897 people. Since China reported its the first AIDS death in 1985, 34,864 people have died of the disease, caused by HIV infection. Previously the third deadliest infectious disease in the country, HIV/AIDS is now followed by tuberculosis, rabies, hepatitis and infant tetanus, according to a Xinhua reported cited by the Associated Press.

The Chinese news agency said Ministry of Health figures show that the number of confirmed HIV infections increased from 135,630 in 2005 to 264,302 from January to September 2008.

The actual number of HIV-infected people in China may actually be about 700,000, according to government and outside estimates, the AP reported. The discrepancy between official and estimated numbers is due in part to people's reluctance to be tested for HIV. The government estimates that 85,000 of those 700,000 people have full-blown AIDS.

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Food Banks Throwing Out Thousands of Pounds of Recalled Food

U.S. food banks are throwing out thousands of pounds of food products recalled in the nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to Peanut Corp. of America.

The discarded products include peanut butter, cereals, cookies, nut mixes and granola bars, items which are vital to food banks because of their long shelf life and durability, the Associated Press reported.

The Houston Food Bank has thrown out 3,000 pounds of recalled products. The Cleveland Food Clinic has tossed out 1,000 pounds of food and has put another several thousands pounds of food on snacks on hold until the recall list is finalized. More than 1,300 pounds of food has been discarded or quarantined at the Food Finders Food Bank Inc. in Lafayette, Ind.

"At a time when food banks are struggling, everything inevitably has an impact," Karen Ponza, spokeswoman for the Cleveland Food Clinic, told the AP.

So far, more than 1,900 products have been recalled due to the salmonella outbreak, which has sickened nearly 600 people and caused nine deaths.

Health Tips for February 19

Health Tip: Storing Breast Milk

If you want to store breast milk for when you're not available to breast-feed, the Nemours Foundation offers these suggestions for doing it safely:

  • Breast milk can be refrigerated for about two or three days, as long as the temperature is between 32 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit (0 C to 3.9 C).
  • Breast milk can be frozen for three to four months in many freezers, as long as the temperature is 0 F (-18 C). But lengths may vary based on the type of freezer.
  • Breast milk can be kept at room temperature for four to eight hours, as long as the room is kept at 77 F (25 C) or cooler.
  • Always store breast milk in sterile bottles that have a screw cap, a sterilized nursing bag, or tightly-capped hard plastic cups. Always label the bottles with the date that the milk was pumped.
  • You can let milk thaw in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but never refreeze milk that has been thawed.

Health Tip: Wean Your Child From Breast-Feeding

When you feel the time is right to wean your baby from breast milk, the Nemours Foundation offers these suggestions to help make the process easier:

  • Substitute a bottle or cup at nursing time. Slightly older children can have a healthy snack or a cup as a substitute.
  • At the typical times that you'd nurse, schedule a special and fun activity instead.
  • Don't wear the same nursing clothes, and change rooms for the substitute activity.
  • Schedule the weaning for a time when your baby isn't dealing with other major changes, such as starting day care or teething.
  • Don't discourage your child if he or she begins a substitute habit -- such as sucking the thumb or carrying a stuffed animal. It's just your child's way of dealing with the change.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Health Headlines - February 18

Food Banks Throwing Out Thousands of Pounds of Recalled Food

U.S. food banks are throwing out thousands of pounds of food products recalled in the nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to Peanut Corp. of America.

The discarded products include peanut butter, cereals, cookies, nut mixes and granola bars, items which are vital to food banks because of their long shelf life and durability, the Associated Press reported.

The Houston Food Bank has thrown out 3,000 pounds of recalled products. The Cleveland Food Clinic has tossed out 1,000 pounds of food and has put another several thousands pounds of food on snacks on hold until the recall list is finalized. More than 1,300 pounds of food has been discarded or quarantined at the Food Finders Food Bank Inc. in Lafayette, Ind.

"At a time when food banks are struggling, everything inevitably has an impact," Karen Ponza, spokeswoman for the Cleveland Food Clinic, told the AP.

So far, more than 1,900 products have been recalled due to the salmonella outbreak, which has sickened nearly 600 people and caused nine deaths.

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Counterfeit Toothbrushes Pose Choking Hazard

Counterfeit toothbrushes that pose a choking hazard have been distributed across Canada and consumers should check their toothbrushes to make sure they're authentic, says Health Canada.

The agency said it has received at least one report of a counterfeit product's bristles becoming dislodged and caught in a person's throat, CBC News reported.

The counterfeit toothbrushes are labeled as Colgate Navigator, Colgate Massager, Colgate 360, the Oral B Classic 40 and Oral B Contura.

Authentic Colgate toothbrushes can be identified by the packaging, labeled in English and French only, that states "Distr. by/par: Colgate-Palmolive Canada Inc." They also have a lot code molded into the brush handle just under the brush head, CBC News reported.

Genuine Oral B brushes can be identified by the Oral B logo manufactured as part of the handle, while the fake versions may have the logo printed in silver test across a peel-away label.

Consumers who suspect they have a counterfeit brush should stop using it immediately, Health Canada said.

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U.K. Confirms First Case of Human Mad Cow Disease in Hemophilia Patient

The first case of the human form of mad cow disease in a hemophilia patient has been confirmed by the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency (HPA).

The male victim, who was over 70 years old, received plasma products before rules were introduced to limit contagion. A post-mortem showed he had variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), but he showed no symptoms of the disease while alive and died of other causes, BBC News reported.

This is the first confirmed case of vCJD in up to 4,000 hemophiliac patients in the U.K. who received blood plasma transfusions between 1980 and 2001. They've been told they have a low risk of developing the disease.

"This new finding may indicate that what was until now a theoretical risk may be an actual risk to certain individuals who have received blood plasma products, although the risk could still be quite low," Prof. Mike Catchpole of the HPA's Centre for Infections told BBC News. "We recognize that this finding will be of concern for persons with hemophilia who will be awaiting the completion of the ongoing investigations and their interpretation."

This is the first case of vCJD involving plasma products, but blood transfusions have been linked to three vCJD deaths in the U.K. Most of the 164 vCJD deaths in the U.K. are believed to have been caused by eating meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

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Many Factors Can Contribute to PTSD Risk

Stress hormones, genetics and childhood events are among the factors that could influence a person's risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One study of U.S. military personnel who were exposed to highly stressful situations found differences in stress hormone levels.

"Interestingly, there are some individuals who, when confronted with extreme stress, their hormone profile is rather unique," said Yale University psychiatrist Deane Aikins, Agence France Presse reported. "It doesn't reach the same peak as the rest of us. So we are ready to scream in our chair, and there are certain individuals who just don't get as stressed. Their stress hormones are actually lower and the peptides that down regulate that stress are quite higher."

Low IQ as early as age 5, difficult temperament at age 3, and family factors such as growing up in poverty, having a depressed mother or being separated from parents at a young age could all increase a person's risk of developing PTSD, found Harvard University public health professor Karestan Koenen and colleagues, AFP reported.

Also, "some people have genetic variants that make them more vulnerable to the effects of trauma," Koenen said.

Another study found that Vietnam veterans who suffered injuries in a certain area of the brain didn't develop PTSD.

Health Tips for February 18

Health Tip: Tobacco and Oral Health

You know that tobacco is bad for your health, and your mouth is no exception.

The American Dental Association says smoking or chewing tobacco can cause or contribute to:

  • Cancers of the mouth.
  • Gum (periodontal) disease, which can lead to lost or sensitive teeth.
  • Bad breath, stained teeth, and even a stained tongue.
  • Reduced ability to taste and smell.
  • Slower healing after oral surgery.

Health Tip: Smoking and Diabetes

Smoking is harmful for everyone, but it can be particularly dangerous for diabetics, who are already at risk of complications such as cardiovascular disease.

If you're a diabetic who has smoked, no matter how long, you can improve your health by quitting. The American Diabetes Association offers this list of potential dangers for diabetics who smoke:

  • Smoking decreases oxygen in the tissues, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Smoking increases cholesterol and blood pressure, which raises your risk of heart attack.
  • Smoking constricts and damages blood vessels, which can make foot ulcers worse.
  • Smoking increases your risk of damage to the nerves and kidneys.
  • Smoking increases your risk of colds and other respiratory illnesses.
  • Smoking increases blood sugar levels.
  • Smoking triples your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to diabetics who don't smoke.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Health Headlines - February 17

Many Factors Can Contribute to PTSD Risk

Stress hormones, genetics and childhood events are among the factors that could influence a person's risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One study of U.S. military personnel who were exposed to highly stressful situations found differences in stress hormone levels.

"Interestingly, there are some individuals who, when confronted with extreme stress, their hormone profile is rather unique," said Yale University psychiatrist Deane Aikins, Agence France Presse reported. "It doesn't reach the same peak as the rest of us. So we are ready to scream in our chair, and there are certain individuals who just don't get as stressed. Their stress hormones are actually lower and the peptides that down regulate that stress are quite higher."

Low IQ as early as age 5, difficult temperament at age 3, and family factors such as growing up in poverty, having a depressed mother or being separated from parents at a young age could all increase a person's risk of developing PTSD, found Harvard University public health professor Karestan Koenen and colleagues, AFP reported.

Also, "some people have genetic variants that make them more vulnerable to the effects of trauma," Koenen said.

Another study found that Vietnam veterans who suffered injuries in a certain area of the brain didn't develop PTSD.

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Acrylamide May Increase Heart Disease Risk: Study

Acrylamide, a chemical found in foods such as potato chips and french fries, may increase a person's risk of heart disease, according to a Polish study. Previous research has linked acrylamide to nervous system disorders and, possibly, cancer.

Participants in this new study ate large amounts of potato chips for four weeks, resulting in a daily acrylamide intake of 157 micrograms. The volunteers showed negative changes in oxidized low-density lipoprotein ("bad" cholesterol), inflammatory markers and antioxidants. The researchers said these changes could increase the risk of heart disease, United Press International reported.

The findings appear in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study authors noted the need for long-term studies of people consuming typical amounts of acrylamide -- about 20 micrograms a day, UPI reported.

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FDA Approves New Gout Drug

The first new gout treatment in four decades has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after more than four years of review due to concerns about dosing and a potential increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

The FDA approved febuxostat (brand name Uloric) to control excess uric acid in the blood that can build up in joints or soft tissues, Bloomberg news reported. About six million Americans have gout.

Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. initially sought approval for 80-milligram and 120-milligram oral doses of the drug. However, regulators were concerned about a higher number of cardiovascular side effects in patients taking the drug and requested a new study using only 80-milligram and 40-milligram doses.

Both lower doses proved effective and weren't linked to a higher rate of heart attack or stroke in patients taking the drug, Bloomberg reported.

Febuxostat was approved by European regulators last May.

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DNA Decoys Prompt Cancer Cell Suicide

A molecular "decoy" that mimics DNA damage and triggers cancer cells to kill themselves could help treat tumors that are resistant to conventional therapy, say French researchers.

They developed tiny fragments of DNA that mimic the two broken ends of the double-helix genetic code. These "Dbaits" fool cancer cells that have survived chemotherapy or radiation into believing they're more damaged than they actually are, prompting them to self-destruct, Agence France Presse reported.

When Dbaits were injected into mice a few hours before they received radiotherapy, 75 percent to 100 percent of cancer cells in the rodents were destroyed, compared with 30 percent to 50 percent using radiotherapy alone. There was no damage to healthy tissue when Dbaits were used.

The study appears in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

If further tests are successful, clinical trials on humans could begin by the end of 2010, said Marie Dutreix of the Curie Institute in Paris, AFP reported.

Health Tips for February 17

Health Tip: When Arthritis Affects the Hands

Arthritis in the hands can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. While the condition can be managed with proper medical care, first you must recognize its common warning signs.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers this list:

  • Dull or burning pain in the fingers and hands, especially after you've been holding tightly to an object for an extended period.
  • Swelling and warmth in and around the joints.
  • A feeling of being able to move the joints less easily.
  • A feeling that the joints in your hand are grinding together.
  • A feeling that your joints are loose, or not as stable as they once were.
  • Cysts, or small bumps that appear around the joints of the fingers.

Health Tip: Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the joints. Remedies may include lifestyle changes, medication and surgery designed to help control pain and minimize joint damage.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers this list of possible treatments for rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Range-of-motion exercises and other exercise routines devised by a physical therapist can help prevent or delay joint damage.
  • Splints, braces and other supportive devices can help protect the joints.
  • Heat or cold treatments can help ease pain and inflammation.
  • Working with a physical therapist can help you learn how to protect your joints during daily activities and tasks, and how to use your joints when your arthritis is causing pain.
  • Getting at least eight hours sleep at night and taking frequent rests during strenuous activities are recommended to ease joint stress.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Health Headlines - February 16

Bad Colonoscopy Equipment May Have Exposed Thousands of Veterans to Infection

A bad connection between a hose and a valve on an instrument used for colonoscopies at a Tennessee Veteran's Administration clinic may have exposed thousands of veterans to infection.

According to the Associated Press, the problem was just recently discovered at the Alvin C. York VA clinic in Murfreesboro, Tenn., but the bad connection, which could have exposed almost 6,400 colonoscopy patients to infectious bodily fluids may have been in operation for at least five years.

The improper valve connection wasn't discovered until late in 2008, so the VA had to send letters to 6,378 patients who had colonoscopies between April 23, 2003 and Dec. 1, 2008.

While saying there had been no reports of infections or illness directly related to the defective equipment, a VA spokesman told the wire service that every step was being taken to screen any veterans who might have been exposed to infection.

Additionally, the A.P. reported, another 1,800 patients may have been exposed to infection in Augusta, Ga., between January and November 2008 because of improper disinfecting methods on an ear, nose and throat instrument.

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Supreme Court Says Ginsburg's Cancer Has Not Spread

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's cancer has not spread beyond her pancreas, and the 75-year-old justice returned to her Washington, D.C., home on Friday after being released from New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the court said.

Ginsburg's spleen and a portion of her pancreas were removed on Feb. 5 at the center after doctors had spotted a 1-centimeter growth during a CT scan in late January that later was found to be benign. A second, smaller tumor found by her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, during the operation was malignant, however, the court said. Tests on Ginsburg's lymph nodes revealed no cancer, and doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.

Since doctors caught the cancer as early Stage 1 disease, Ginsburg may be able to avoid chemotherapy because of the tumor's small size and the absence of cancer in her lymph nodes, cancer specialists told the AP. In fact, Ginsburg has indicated that she expects to be back at the Supreme Court on Feb. 23, when the justices will hear arguments.

As a colon cancer survivor, Ginsburg underwent regular checkups for growths, and it was the quick identification of the pancreatic tumor that enabled doctors to move quickly, AP reported.

Just 5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live five years after their diagnosis, since most cases are found in late stage when the disease is harder to treat. For those whose cancer is diagnosed early, surgery, followed by chemotherapy, is the usual course, according to the American Cancer Society, and five-year survival rates grow to 20 percent to 24 percent.

"She couldn't have asked for a better way of picking this up," Dr. Chandra Are, a surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who said he trained under Brennan, told the AP. "She was very lucky."

-----

Peanut Corp. of America Files for Bankruptcy: Report

Peanut Corp. of America, the peanut processing company implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people and may have led to nine deaths, filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The salmonella outbreak has been traced to the company's plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold and a leaking roof. A second plant in Texas was closed this week after initial tests revealed possible salmonella contamination, the news service said.

The Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; a Chapter 7 filing allows for an orderly sale of a company's assets to pay creditors, the AP said.

The federal government has launched a criminal investigation into the case, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed. Peanut Corp.'s president, Stewart Parnell, was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before a Congressional committee investigating the outbreak, but he refused to answer questions, invoking his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. Company e-mails have surfaced, showing he ordered tainted products to be shipped anyway, the AP said.

Despite the headlines generated by the outbreak, many Americans aren't clear about which 1,900 products have been recalled in the nationwide outbreak, a Harvard survey of 1,300 adults released Friday has found.

About one in four respondents mistakenly believes that major peanut butter brands are included in the recall, while fewer than half know that snack bars, baked goods, ice cream and dry-roasted peanuts are among the products being recalled, the AP said.

"A lot of people have taken some precautions but they're not looking at the ingredients in products not related to peanut butter," said survey director Robert Blendon, a health policy professor.

The survey, taken last week, also found that:

  • About 93 percent know about the outbreak and most know that it was caused by salmonella bacteria.
  • Only one in three has a good or great amount of confidence in food makers or government inspectors to keep food safe.

-----

Many Parents Reject Prenatal Tests: Study

Two-thirds of parents who have a child with a genetic problem avoid pregnancy rather than have tests to identify, or avoid the birth of, another affected child, according to a study that included clients of a state-wide rural genetic outreach program in the United States.

Of the parents who decided to have more children, most decided not to have prenatal screening or testing, United Press International reported. The findings appear in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.

"Prenatal testing procedures -- to detect genetic conditions or fetal anomalies -- were perceived by many parents as presenting rather than resolving risks," researcher Dr. Susan Kelly, of the University of Exeter in the U.K., said in a news release.

The widespread ambivalence about such testing isn't a simple rejection of medical intervention, opposition to abortion, or the result of parents' positive experience with a child with a genetic problem, Kelly said. It also a wish for more control among parents with more awareness about the limitations of new reproductive technologies, UPI reported.

Health Tips for February 16

Health Tip: Prevent Mold in the Home

Mold is a tiny fungus that can grow inside the home and cause allergies and other health problems.

The University of Virginia Health System offers these suggestions to help keep mold out of your home:

  • Keep humidity at low levels -- between 40 percent and 60 percent, and use an air conditioner or dehumidifier when it's humid outside.
  • Use exhaust fans to keep areas such as kitchens and bathrooms well ventilated.
  • Keep carpet out of areas where moisture may collect, such as bathrooms or basements.
  • Promptly and thoroughly dry any furnishings that get wet, especially carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • Fix any leaky plumbing, roofs, or walls.
  • Use cleaners that kill mold.
  • If you're painting, add a mold inhibitor to the paint.

Health Tip: Reduce Pesticide Exposure

Pesticides can help keep your home free of insects, rodents and other unwanted visitors, but exposure to these products can pose serious health risks.

The National Safety Council offers these suggestions when working with pesticides:

  • Only use pesticides that have been legally purchased, and are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or similar government agency.
  • Carefully read directions on the pesticide label, and follow them exactly.
  • When you can, use non-chemical pesticides.
  • Keep the work area well-ventilated.
  • Make sure you safely dispose of any excess product.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Health Headlines - February 15

Bad Colonoscopy Equipment May Have Exposed Thousands of Veterans to Infection

A bad connection between a hose and a valve on an instrument used for colonoscopies at a Tennessee Veteran's Administration clinic may have exposed thousands of veterans to infection.

According to the Associated Press, the problem was just recently discovered at the Alvin C. York VA clinic in Murfreesboro, Tenn., but the bad connection, which could have exposed almost 6,400 colonoscopy patients to infectious bodily fluids may have been in operation for at least five years.

The improper valve connection wasn't discovered until late in 2008, so the VA had to send letters to 6,378 patients who had colonoscopies between April 23, 2003 and Dec. 1, 2008.

While saying there had been no reports of infections or illness directly related to the defective equipment, a VA spokesman told the wire service that every step was being taken to screen any veterans who might have been exposed to infection.

Additionally, the A.P. reported, another 1,800 patients may have been exposed to infection in Augusta, Ga., between January and November 2008 because of improper disinfecting methods on an ear, nose and throat instrument.

-----

Supreme Court Says Ginsburg's Cancer Has Not Spread

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's cancer has not spread beyond her pancreas, and the 75-year-old justice returned to her Washington, D.C., home on Friday after being released from New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the court said.

Ginsburg's spleen and a portion of her pancreas were removed on Feb. 5 at the center after doctors had spotted a 1-centimeter growth during a CT scan in late January that later was found to be benign. A second, smaller tumor found by her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, during the operation was malignant, however, the court said. Tests on Ginsburg's lymph nodes revealed no cancer, and doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.

Since doctors caught the cancer as early Stage 1 disease, Ginsburg may be able to avoid chemotherapy because of the tumor's small size and the absence of cancer in her lymph nodes, cancer specialists told the AP. In fact, Ginsburg has indicated that she expects to be back at the Supreme Court on Feb. 23, when the justices will hear arguments.

As a colon cancer survivor, Ginsburg underwent regular checkups for growths, and it was the quick identification of the pancreatic tumor that enabled doctors to move quickly, AP reported.

Just 5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live five years after their diagnosis, since most cases are found in late stage when the disease is harder to treat. For those whose cancer is diagnosed early, surgery, followed by chemotherapy, is the usual course, according to the American Cancer Society, and five-year survival rates grow to 20 percent to 24 percent.

"She couldn't have asked for a better way of picking this up," Dr. Chandra Are, a surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who said he trained under Brennan, told the AP. "She was very lucky."

-----

Peanut Corp. of America Files for Bankruptcy: Report

Peanut Corp. of America, the peanut processing company implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people and may have led to nine deaths, filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The salmonella outbreak has been traced to the company's plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold and a leaking roof. A second plant in Texas was closed this week after initial tests revealed possible salmonella contamination, the news service said.

The Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; a Chapter 7 filing allows for an orderly sale of a company's assets to pay creditors, the AP said.

The federal government has launched a criminal investigation into the case, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed. Peanut Corp.'s president, Stewart Parnell, was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before a Congressional committee investigating the outbreak, but he refused to answer questions, invoking his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. Company e-mails have surfaced, showing he ordered tainted products to be shipped anyway, the AP said.

Despite the headlines generated by the outbreak, many Americans aren't clear about which 1,900 products have been recalled in the nationwide outbreak, a Harvard survey of 1,300 adults released Friday has found.

About one in four respondents mistakenly believes that major peanut butter brands are included in the recall, while fewer than half know that snack bars, baked goods, ice cream and dry-roasted peanuts are among the products being recalled, the AP said.

"A lot of people have taken some precautions but they're not looking at the ingredients in products not related to peanut butter," said survey director Robert Blendon, a health policy professor.

The survey, taken last week, also found that:

  • About 93 percent know about the outbreak and most know that it was caused by salmonella bacteria.
  • Only one in three has a good or great amount of confidence in food makers or government inspectors to keep food safe.

-----

Many Parents Reject Prenatal Tests: Study

Two-thirds of parents who have a child with a genetic problem avoid pregnancy rather than have tests to identify, or avoid the birth of, another affected child, according to a study that included clients of a state-wide rural genetic outreach program in the United States.

Of the parents who decided to have more children, most decided not to have prenatal screening or testing, United Press International reported. The findings appear in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.

"Prenatal testing procedures -- to detect genetic conditions or fetal anomalies -- were perceived by many parents as presenting rather than resolving risks," researcher Dr. Susan Kelly, of the University of Exeter in the U.K., said in a news release.

The widespread ambivalence about such testing isn't a simple rejection of medical intervention, opposition to abortion, or the result of parents' positive experience with a child with a genetic problem, Kelly said. It also a wish for more control among parents with more awareness about the limitations of new reproductive technologies, UPI reported.

Health Tips for February 15

Health Tip: Take Care of Your Teeth

If you've been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you're not alone. Some 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of the gum disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Our mouths are full of bacteria, which along with mucus and food particles form a sticky, colorless "plaque" on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque.

Plaque that is not removed can harden and form bacteria-laden "tartar." The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums, which is known as gingivitis.

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, characterized by the gums pulling away from the teeth and forming infected pockets. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

If periodontitis isn't treated, the bones, gums and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. At that point, the teeth may have to be removed.

Health Tip: Fluoride Use by Children

Fluoride is a natural substance found in water, and is added to many municipal water supplies to help prevent cavities.

The Nemours Foundation offers these guidelines about the use of fluoride in children::

  • Children should only use fluoride supplements if they live in areas with non-fluoridated water, or if they drink only non-fluoridated bottled water.
  • Children under age 6 should never use a fluoride mouth rinse.
  • Children under 6 months don't need fluoride supplements and shouldn't been given them.
  • Fluoride toothpaste should not be used on children younger than 2 unless recommended by a doctor or dentist.
  • Children should use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Watch children up to age 6 when they brush their teeth to make sure that they spit out the toothpaste, and that not too much is swallowed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Health Headlines - February 14

Happy Valentine's Day!

Supreme Court Says Ginsburg's Cancer Has Not Spread

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's cancer has not spread beyond her pancreas, and the 75-year-old justice returned to her Washington, D.C., home on Friday after being released from New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the court said.

Ginsburg's spleen and a portion of her pancreas were removed on Feb. 5 at the center after doctors had spotted a 1-centimeter growth during a CT scan in late January that later was found to be benign. A second, smaller tumor found by her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, during the operation was malignant, however, the court said. Tests on Ginsburg's lymph nodes revealed no cancer, and doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.

Since doctors caught the cancer as early Stage 1 disease, Ginsburg may be able to avoid chemotherapy because of the tumor's small size and the absence of cancer in her lymph nodes, cancer specialists told the AP. In fact, Ginsburg has indicated that she expects to be back at the Supreme Court on Feb. 23, when the justices will hear arguments.

As a colon cancer survivor, Ginsburg underwent regular checkups for growths, and it was the quick identification of the pancreatic tumor that enabled doctors to move quickly, AP reported.

Just 5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live five years after their diagnosis, since most cases are found in late stage when the disease is harder to treat. For those whose cancer is diagnosed early, surgery, followed by chemotherapy, is the usual course, according to the American Cancer Society, and five-year survival rates grow to 20 percent to 24 percent.

"She couldn't have asked for a better way of picking this up," Dr. Chandra Are, a surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who said he trained under Brennan, told the AP. "She was very lucky."

-----

Peanut Corp. of America Files for Bankruptcy: Report

Peanut Corp. of America, the peanut processing company implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people and may have led to nine deaths, filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The salmonella outbreak has been traced to the company's plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold and a leaking roof. A second plant in Texas was closed this week after initial tests revealed possible salmonella contamination, the news service said.

The Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; a Chapter 7 filing allows for an orderly sale of a company's assets to pay creditors, the AP said.

The federal government has launched a criminal investigation into the case, and more than a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed. Peanut Corp.'s president, Stewart Parnell, was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before a Congressional committee investigating the outbreak, but he refused to answer questions, invoking his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. Company e-mails have surfaced, showing he ordered tainted products to be shipped anyway, the AP said.

Despite the headlines generated by the outbreak, many Americans aren't clear about which 1,900 products have been recalled in the nationwide outbreak, a Harvard survey of 1,300 adults released Friday has found.

About one in four respondents mistakenly believes that major peanut butter brands are included in the recall, while fewer than half know that snack bars, baked goods, ice cream and dry-roasted peanuts are among the products being recalled, the AP said.

"A lot of people have taken some precautions but they're not looking at the ingredients in products not related to peanut butter," said survey director Robert Blendon, a health policy professor.

The survey, taken last week, also found that:

  • About 93 percent know about the outbreak and most know that it was caused by salmonella bacteria.
  • Only one in three has a good or great amount of confidence in food makers or government inspectors to keep food safe.

-----

Many Parents Reject Prenatal Tests: Study

Two-thirds of parents who have a child with a genetic problem avoid pregnancy rather than have tests to identify, or avoid the birth of, another affected child, according to a study that included clients of a state-wide rural genetic outreach program in the United States.

Of the parents who decided to have more children, most decided not to have prenatal screening or testing, United Press International reported. The findings appear in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.

"Prenatal testing procedures -- to detect genetic conditions or fetal anomalies -- were perceived by many parents as presenting rather than resolving risks," researcher Dr. Susan Kelly, of the University of Exeter in the U.K., said in a news release.

The widespread ambivalence about such testing isn't a simple rejection of medical intervention, opposition to abortion, or the result of parents' positive experience with a child with a genetic problem, Kelly said. It also a wish for more control among parents with more awareness about the limitations of new reproductive technologies, UPI reported.