Health Buzz: Daylight Savings Time and Other Health News

Saving your heart from the time change, BPA in plastic, diabetes drug costs, and more

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For Your Heart's Sake, Sleep

Something as simple as setting your clock ahead may affect your risk of experiencing a heart attack, according to various news accounts. In the first scientific study exploring the issue, Swedish researchers have found that a jump in the number of heart attacks occurs when people set their clocks ahead in the spring. The authors suggest that sleep deprivation associated with time changes may be causing the spike in heart problems.

Earlier this month, U.S. News listed 10 reasons not to skimp on sleep.

Controversy Over Bisphenol A Again Roars to the Fore

Did the Food and Drug Administration ignore critical evidence in its earlier review of bisphenol A, the controversial chemical found in certain types of plastic that the agency says doesn't pose a health risk to humans? Quite possibly, argues a hard-hitting report authored by a seven-person panel of independent experts and released yesterday. The panel, which the FDA had assembled in order to review its earlier internal assessment of the chemical, criticizes the agency for excluding important animal and human studies and using "inadequate" margins of safety to determine whether BPA exposure is hazardous to humans, according to the New York Times. "Parents who, as a precaution, wish to use alternatives for their bottle-fed babies can use glass and other substitutes for polycarbonate plastic bottles; avoid heating formula in polycarbonate plastic bottles; and consult their pediatrician about switching to powdered infant formula," the FDA said in a statement.

U.S. News writers have explained how to avoid BPA, listed 5 ways to keep it out of your food, and pointed out places where you can find BPA-free products.

Costly Diabetes Drugs—Are They Worth It?

With the economy tanking, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to control their healthcare spending. One possibility: Use older diabetes drugs, such as metformin, instead of the newer and pricier diabetes drugs Actos and Byetta. In a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, some experts contend that the new drugs have driven a near-doubling of spending on diabetes treatment between 2001 and 2007, even though the benefits of using them may not outweigh the costs. The mean cost per prescription has increased from $56 in 2001 to $76 in 2007, the study shows. For more, read the full post on this topic from U.S. News senior writer Michelle Andrews.

In August, Andrews listed 7 steps that newly diagnosed diabetics should take.

Weighing Aspirin's Risks and Benefits

Aspirin made headlines this week with the news that the FDA sent Bayer warning letters about the drug maker's use of unproven health claims in touting two products. About 60 percent of people 65 and older pop aspirin at least once a week, often to protect their heart. Aspirin certainly can offer cardiovascular protection, but the cheap, over-the-counter pill isn't always benign, and regular use should be discussed with a doctor, experts say. U.S. News 's Sarah Baldauf explains 12 things that you might not know—but should—about using aspiring regularly.

—Adam Voiland