Health News: December 2009

Tylenol Recall Expanded

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Consumers are being warned to stop using Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplets if the bottle has a big red easy-to-open cap. The manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson has expanded a recall that started in November. Some lots have an unusual moldy or... (Read More)
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Ginkgo biloba has been a popular herb for its reputed ability to prevent cognitive decline. A year ago, a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association did not show any benefit of ginkgo in warding... (Read More)
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Other popular herbs are promoted for alleviating the hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. A new study shows, however, that black cohosh and red clover are no better than placebo in reducing night sweats and hot flashes. In the... (Read More)
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For decades grandmas have been telling their grandchildren to eat their vegetables. Now an analysis from the University of Georgia shows that a diet rich in green leafy vegetables may help prevent age-related eye problems such as cataracts and macular... (Read More)
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Billions are spent each year on medical equipment such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and cardiac stents. How thorough is the FDA's review process for such devices? Two major medical journals, the American Journal of Therapeutics and the Journal of the... (Read More)
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As the H1N1 flu pandemic begins to wind down, researchers are discovering how infectious this virus really is. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine analyzed data on 216 confirmed patients and their 600 household contacts. Only 78... (Read More)
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Millions of people suffer from ringing in the ears or tinnitus. For many, the internal buzzing, chirping or hissing interferes with quality of life. Now German researchers have reported that tailored music therapy may be helpful. The scientists developed musical... (Read More)
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Aspirin is often used to reduce the risk of heart attacks in middle-aged and older people. A new study suggests that the anti-clotting benefits of aspirin might disappear if people also take a common prescription pain reliever. Laboratory studies at... (Read More)
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Scientists know that plant sterols interfere with cholesterol absorption, but how well do these compounds work to lower cholesterol? To answer this question, investigators fed volunteers a carefully controlled diet with a measured small amount of plant sterols. They were... (Read More)
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Pediatricians may not tell parents when they make a mistake in a child's care. The Institute of Medicine issued a report several years ago documenting widespread hospital errors. In the aftermath of this eye-opening analysis, health professionals called for more... (Read More)

Vitamin D Fights Lymphoma

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Vitamin D is important in helping the immune system function properly. A recent study at the Mayo Clinic shows that lymphoma patients with vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to die from this cancer as patients with adequate vitamin... (Read More)
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A device that could be used as a vascular vacuum cleaner may offer a new way to treat stroke. The FDA has approved a catheter called Penumbra for extracting blood clots from blood vessels in the brain. If stroke patients... (Read More)
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CT scans are under continued scrutiny for safety. A few weeks ago a report at the Radiological Society Meeting of North America suggested that routine CT scans add to the overall radiation burden. As many as 20,000 cases of cancer... (Read More)
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Women who have breast cancer should probably avoid alcohol. Data reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium showed that women who consume at least three drinks a week are 50 percent more likely to die of their breast... (Read More)
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Liver damage is a potential side effect of some chemotherapeutic agents. Now scientists from Columbia University report that the herb milk thistle was helpful in protecting children undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia from liver toxicity. The study lasted a... (Read More)
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Pregnant women are frequently warned to avoid drugs unless their obstetrician has specifically verified that they are safe. Now, a study from Finland suggests that they should also have their candy selections vetted. In particular, pregnant women should avoid natural... (Read More)
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Celiac disease is rooted in an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in barley, rye and wheat. It can cause a huge range of symptoms, from diarrhea, cramps, bloating and reflux to fatigue, depression, anemia, osteoporosis or even dementia.... (Read More)
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Vigorous physical activity may be the most effective way men with prostate cancer can prolong their lives. Investigators at the Harvard School of Public Health followed almost 50,000 male health professionals from 1986 to 2008. An analysis of more than... (Read More)
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Analysis of data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study suggests that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop aggressive prostate tumors. Although almost 5,000 men in the cohort developed prostate cancer over two decades, a much smaller number had life-threatening... (Read More)
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Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are often advised to avoid exposure to estrogen. That includes prescription drugs such as Premarin or Prempro as well as bio-identical hormones. Researchers have long wondered whether it is safe for these women... (Read More)
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Compounds in spices may have anti-cancer potential. A cell-culture study conducted at the University of Michigan found that curcumin from the yellow spice turmeric along with piperine from black pepper slowed the growth of breast cancer cells. The researchers were... (Read More)
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Cluster headaches are incredibly painful and can be very hard to treat. Men are more frequently affected than women. The pain is usually focused on one side of the head near the eye and can be incapacitating. The attacks can... (Read More)
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Recent changes in the guidelines for screening mammograms have been controversial. Millions of women reacted angrily to the idea that they might wait until age 50 for their first mammogram. And older women were shocked to learn that they might... (Read More)
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Routine CT scans may pose unexpected radiation hazards. Many people think of a "Cat" scan as rather benign. It certainly sounds less scary than an X-ray. But CT scans use a lot of X-radiation. Some experts estimate that a typical... (Read More)
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There was a time when most severe sore throats were treated with big doses of penicillin. That was because strep infections were not easy to diagnose and penicillin antibiotics are highly effecting for knocking out this bacterium. Then physicians realized... (Read More)
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Food safety is a growing concern in the U.S. A recent report from Consumers Union suggests that contaminated chickens are much too common. Investigators purchased 382 fresh broiler chickens from 100 grocery stores in 22 states. They found that two... (Read More)
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Ginkgo biloba has become a popular herb in health food stores because of its reputation for improving circulation and brain function. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association a year ago showed that ginkgo was no... (Read More)