Health-Points: Friday 5.15.09

Image credit: kretyen

Gardasil Denied Approval for Women 27 to 45, Again!

For the second time, U.S. health regulators have denied approval for the use of Gardasil in women, ages 27 to 45. Officials want more long term clinical data. Merck’s Gardasil is said to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. Following the denial Merck’s shares dropped 79 cents. Merck is also pushing Gardasil for use among men; Reuters reports.

Now, Gardasil is no wonder drug! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received 7,802 instances of people suffering an adverse reaction to Gardasil and the vaccine only protects against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV. It also killed a 17-year old girl from New York. Not to mention, this spring the FDA ordered Merck clean up a manufacturing plant where Gardasil is produced.

Image credit: christopherdale

Vicks VapoRub Dangerous for Little Kids

Children’s cold medicine has drawn heavy fire lately. Health officials are concerned over the possible health risks. In fact, last month, Canadian health officials urged parents not to give kids over-the-counter cold remedies, even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered banning children’s cold medicine

And yesterday, researchers in Chest revealed Vicks VapoRub, a popular cold remedy, triggers respiratory distress in children younger than 2, when incorrectly applied under the nose, causing airways to swell and fill with mucus. This reaction is normal in adults, but infants and toddlers’ have narrower airways, putting them at risk. But researchers are quick to point out. Vicks clearly states their product should never go under the nose of children under the age of 2. And while not tested, generics could pose the same danger; Reuters reports.

Oddly enough, many of these cold remedies may not even work in little kids, placebo works just as well.

Melamine Linked to Kidney Stones

Chinese milk products tainted with melamine, a chemical used in making plastic, ignited a frenzy this fall, sickening thousands of children and contaminating foods like green beans, candy and baby formula. And now, a new study in International Journal of Clinical Chemistry and Diagnostic Laboratory Medicine claims melamine exposure alone is enough to cause kidney stones and the greater the exposure, the larger the stones. Scientists compared various urine samples from children who consumed tainted milk; via Reuters.

The hubbub over melamine prompted the FDA to open an office in Beijing, China to sure up food safety regulation and imports to the United States.

Via The New York Times.

FDA Cracks Down on Crushed Beetles in Food

Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth. Apparently food producers have been grinding up bugs to make food colorings for years! Beetles are a source of carmine or cochineal extract, which makes red, pink, orange and purple. And there’s been very little restriction on its use. A spokes person for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has lobbied to get carmine banned, said there is no way to tell how many products contain the dyes, it can be anything red. The FDA has decided to act now, due to reports of allergic reactions, requiring manufacturers to list carmine or cochineal in the ingredients; The Palm Beach Post reports.

Sounds yummy! There’s actually a big obsession with cramming bug parts into our food. Recently, Greenpeace unveiled a series of advertisements, featuring green onions shaped like spiders, scorpion carrots and peapod grasshoppers, to raise awareness for genetically modified ingredients in food.

Not to mention, a previous experiment showed rats fed genetically engineered corn developed signs of liver and kidney toxicity after 3 months. The corn contained a compound to repel insects.

Osteoporosis Drug Fosamax Linked to Esophagus Cancer

A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests a connection between the osteoporosis drug Fosamax and esophageal cancer. Since the drug debuted in October 2005 and up to May 2008, the FDA has received 23 claims of patients in the U.S. being diagnosed with esophagus cancer. Fosamax is the suspect drug in 21 cases and the concomitant drug in 2. Experts urge not prescribing Fosamax to patients with Barrett's esophagus, a condition caused by chronic acid reflux and is a precursor to esophageal cancer; ABC News reports.

And in April, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine linked Fosamax and its generic alendronate with irregular heartbeat. Researchers compared the heartbeats of individuals taking and not taking the drug, revealing 6.5% of those taking medication had irregular heart rhythm and only 4.1% of individuals not taking medication had irregular heartbeat; via BayNews9.com.

Preventing osteoporosis is key. According to Dr. Fuhrman things like checking your vitamin D levels, exercising regularly and avoiding salt—which can leach calcium from bones—helps women avoid osteoporosis. Also, wearing a weighted vest can help strengthen bones.

The FDA's Mad about Coke Plus!

The soda, Coke Plus, is sold as a good source of vitamins and minerals. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not impressed. "The FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages," the agency said in a letter to Coca-Cola on Tuesday. But Coke doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong—what a shocker—claiming this does not involve any health or safety issues. Regardless, they have 15 days to outline a corrective course of action; via Reuters.

Listen, adding vitamins to soda is like putting a pig in a dress, its a still sugar-laden junk food, i.e. a pig. So bad, that the some experts wanted to slap a Surgeon General’s warning on it. Yes, for real.

Health-Points: Tuesday 11.25.08

  • Having no stress would be great! And there’s an added perk for cancer patients. New research in Cancer claims reducing stress, by exercising and eating healthfully, can help prevent relapses and fight cancer; via NewScientist.
  • China’s food safety has drawn intense scrutiny, prompting the FDA to open an office in Beijing. According to a spokesperson it will enhance the regulatory cooperation between the United States and China; CNN reports.