Sunday, July 30, 2006

Health Highlights: July 11, 2006

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

Experts Say Tobacco Will Kill 1 Billion This Century
Tobacco will be the biggest killer of this century, taking a billion people worldwide -- 10 times the toll it took in the 20th century -- if current trends continue, public health officials said Monday.
"In all of world history, this is the largest train wreck not waiting to happen," John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said at an International Union Against Cancer conference in Washington, D.C., the Associated Press reported.
Two new reference guides, the newly revised Tobacco Atlas and the new Cancer Atlas, show that tobacco is responsible for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths a year. Adding in cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases related to tobacco use brings the yearly global death toll to nearly 5 million. That number is expected to increase as population rises, the experts said.
The guides project that 1.25 billion people smoke cigarettes and that more than half will die from the habit. Reducing tobacco use would have the single largest effect on worldwide cancer rates, health officials said.
-----
Tests Find Higher Levels of Mercury in Tuna Imports
Lab tests by a company that has been used by the U.S. government show that imported canned tuna often has mercury levels higher than the federal limit.
Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group, found the highest mercury levels in tuna from Ecuador and Mexico -- countries known for setting nets where they see dolphins to catch large tuna swimming below. That practice results in the capture of larger, more mature fish, which have higher mercury levels, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The group tested 164 cans of tuna from Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States. Tests were done by New Age/Landmark laboratory, of Benton Harbor, Mich., AP said. Analysis of the samples found that the average mercury content of U.S. tuna was generally lower than imported tuna and that tuna from Asia had the lowest average levels of mercury. Latin American tuna had the highest mercury levels.
The lab also found high levels of mercury in light tuna, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers to be low in mercury. The FDA says it's safe to eat two meals a week of fish and shellfish low in mercury, such as canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish. The agency urges people to limit albacore, or "white," tuna to one meal per week because it contains higher levels of mercury, AP reported.
-----
Researchers Grow Sperm From Stem Cells
Women may one day concieve babies on their own, after British researchers turned stem cells from an embryo into sperm capable of producing offspring.
A Newcastle University team led by Professor Karim Nayernia used embryo cells to produce seven baby mice -- six of which lived to adulthood. The animals were either too small or too large, and they died prematurely, however.
Nayernia said that the advance could help men with certain types of infertility to become fertile or to remain fertile for longer. It might even one day enable a lesbian couple to have children that, at the genetic level, are truly their own, London's Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
In the long term, Nayernia said, cloning methods could be used to turn a skin cell from a man into sperm and it might even be possible to do the same using a cell from a woman. The findings were published in the current issue of the journal Developmental Cell.
-----
Medicare Drug Insurers Don't Offer Accurate Information: Report
Telephone call centers operated by insurers offering prescription drug coverage through the new Medicare drug plan provided complete and accurate answers only a third of the time, says a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Monday.
GAO investigators made 900 calls to 10 of the largest drug plan insurers and found that overall accuracy and completeness rate ranged from 20 percent to 60 percent, the Associated Press reported.
Only one insurer's call center provided proper, full answers more than 50 percent of the time.
There are 43 million people eligible for Medicare drug coverage and many of them rely on insurers' call centers for information about what plan best suits them, the AP reported.
The GAO investigators did find that most of their calls were answered with minimal delay and that the majority of operators were courteous and many offered helpful suggestions. However, operators were unable to answer 15 percent of the questions asked by the GAO investigators and operators at the same call centers sometimes provided inconsistent answers.
The results show that Medicare beneficiaries face challenges in obtaining the information they require in order to make informed choices, the GAO report noted. Officials with the agency that oversee the drug program said the GAO report was based on "inaccurate, incomplete and subjective methods," the AP reported.
-----
Company Seeks Approval to Test Needle-Free Bird Flu Vaccine
A British company called PowderMed has applied for approval to conduct the first trial in Britain of a needle-free bird flu vaccine.
The Oxford-based company has asked for permission to test its H5N1 vaccine on 75 volunteers at a hospital in London, The Times of London, reported.
The vaccine would be administered using a needle-free system. Helium is used to propel particles coated in the section of DNA needed to make haemagglutinin protein (the H5 in H5N1) into the skin. This trial is designed to determine the correct dose to produce an immune response to protect against H5N1.
The company would be able to create a new vaccine in about 10 weeks, which is much quicker than traditional vaccines developed in chicken eggs, said John Beadle, PowderMed's chief medical officer, told The Times.
This new H5 vaccine could be licensed within the next two years, he said.
-----
Class I Recall for External Defibrillators
An alert to emergency services personnel and risk managers about a Class I recall of Welch Allyn PIC 50 Automated External Defibrillators - catalog #97108X- was announced Monday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The devices, manufactured from March 2002 through October 2004, have an electrical contact problem that may result in failure to provide a defibrillation shock. This could result in delay or failure to resuscitate a patient, the FDA said.
The device's failure to provide a defibrillation shock may be accompanied by various error messages on the display panel, such as the "Defib Comm" error message.
A Class I recall is the most serious type of recall and involves situations in which there is a reasonable probability that use of the recalled product will cause serious injury or death.
People with questions about the recall can contact the company at (800) 462-0777 or (847) 520-0300.
Last reviewed: 07/11/2006 Last updated: 07/11/2006

No comments:

Dr. Group's Secret to Health Kit

Dr. Group's Secret to Health Kit

$39.94
[ learn more ]

Add to Cart

Dr. Group's Secret to Health Kit offers simple at-home solutions for cleansing internally and externally thereby reducing toxins, restoring the body's natural healing process, and helping you achieve true health and happiness.

Advanced Body Cleansing Kit

Advanced Body Cleansing Kit

$147.75
[ learn more ]

Add to Cart

Advanced Body Cleansing Kit with Livatrex™, Oxy-Powder®, Latero-Flora™ and two bottles of ParaTrex®.