Health Buzz: A Nalgene Lawsuit and Other Health News


Woman sues bottle maker over plastic chemical

A California woman is suing the maker of Nalgene durable plastic water bottles, claiming that the company was aware that the bottles contained bisphenol A, or BPA, and that it downplayed the possibility that the controversial chemical could reach the bottles' contents and make customers sick, Reuters reports. The woman said she and her two daughters, ages 11 and 13, used Nalgene bottles.

This is believed to be the first consumer class-action lawsuit filed after recent reports that the chemical might cause health problems. The federal government's National Toxicology Program expressed concern last week that BPA exposure could cause neural and behavioral abnormalities in fetuses, infants, and children. Nalgene and Playtex, another manufacturer of polycarbonate plastic goods, have both said that they intend to phase BPA out of their products, and Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us said they will stop selling BPA-containing baby bottles. The Canadian government has proposed a ban on BPA in that country.

If you're worried about how BPA could affect your family, take a look at U.S. News's tips for how to avoid the chemical.

Heparin contaminant confirmed

Researchers said they have confirmed the Food and Drug Administration's suspicion that the contaminant found in the blood thinner heparin was oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, which is a derivative of a popular supplement used to relieve arthritis. It can resemble the active ingredient in heparin but is cheaper, making investigators think that it may have been deliberately substituted, Reuters reports. The independent researchers led by Ram Sasisekharan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied heparin samples in order to analyze the structure of the medicine and identify any contaminants. The contamination has been linked to 81 deaths and many allergic reactions.

A recent special report in U.S. News explains how to tell if your drugs are safe (and why they might not be).

Migraines might mean skin pain, too

People who get migraines are more likely to experience severe skin pain and sensitivity, according to a new study in the April 22 issue of Neurology.

As many as two thirds of migraine sufferers also have a condition called cutaneous allodynia, which is a skin sensitivity and pain so bothersome that daily activities like wearing jewelry and brushing your hair can be painful.

Do you experience migraines? Here's some information on a new medication and nondrug ways of dealing with the headaches.

Reporting on a masturbation-cancer link is flawed

Recent reporting you may have read on the health effects of masturbation is wrong—not morally, but journalistically, blogger Ben Harder reports.

PlanetOut posted on Monday that "BBC News reported on Wednesday" that masturbating frequently may reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer. Masturbating may or may not affect one's cancer risk, but the only BBC report Harder could locate on the subject is dated July 16, 2003—and it contains statistics that are identical to those cited by PlanetOut.

Moreover, the Australian organization named by both news outlets, the Cancer Council Victoria, does not appear to have any recent press release on masturbation or ejaculation, though it does have one dating to July 2003.

U.S. News's On Men blog describes 11 things you should know about prostate cancer and explains why choosing a treatment for the disease just got easier.

—January W. Payne