Health Buzz: Arthritis Drug Safety and Other Health News

Food safety, the health of the presidential candidates, and covering the cost of healthcare

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FDA Reviewing Safety of Arthritis Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of a class of drugs called tumor necrosis factor blockers, currently used to treat autoimmune conditions such as adult and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Among the concerns is whether these medicines are linked to cancer risk, particularly lymphoma in kids and young adults. The FDA is looking into about 30 reports of cancer among younger people submitted between 1998—when the first TNF blocker was approved—through April of this year. The drugs are also tied to an increased risk of infection.

Read more about these medical conditions on U.S. News's Crohns Disease Channel and Rheumatoid Arthritis Channel. Also, learn what causes autoimmune conditions.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Tomatoes

The FDA issued an alert Tuesday warning consumers in New Mexico and Texas that a salmonella outbreak appears to be tied to certain types of raw tomatoes and products containing these tomatoes. Preliminary data suggests that round red, red Roma, and raw red plum tomatoes are the causes of the outbreak. People in these two states, the FDA suggests, should only eat grape and cherry tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and homegrown tomatoes.

U.S. News offers advice on how to keep your family's food supply safe, information about food poisoning, and general food -safety tips.

Getting the Word Out About Presidential Candidates' Health

The presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees have each released their health records, albeit by different methods and to different degrees, Katherine Hobson reports. John McCain allowed access to a veritable phone book's worth of information to a selected group of reporters. A week later, Barack Obama's personal physician publicly issued a one-page statement largely limited to vital signs and giving few details.

Hobson explores if the candidates should release more information about their health. Earlier, she discussed the Presidential Physical—which, for a cost of $1,400—gets you an exam that is said to be modeled after the president's own checkup.

Covering Health Costs After Age 65

A new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that a couple without employer-sponsored retiree coverage can expect to need anywhere from $194,000 to $635,000 to cover healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket costs during retirement, Michelle Andrews reports. To arrive at their figures, researchers developed a model that took into account numerous mortality and investment risk scenarios, different sources of healthcare coverage, and different healthcare needs.

Because they live longer, women can always expect to need more savings to cover their costs than men. So, for example, a typical 65-year-old woman with average drug expenses during retirement might expect to need $108,000 for her Medicare and Medigap premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, whereas a similarly situated man would need $79,000.

There are options to help cover health costs at this age, Andrews reports. But one option, long-term care insurance, has its own pitfalls, and another option, health savings accounts, aren't for everyone.

—January W. Payne