Health Highlights: June 27, 2008

HealthDay SHARE
  • Unsafe Water Causes Many Diseases, Deaths: WHO
  • Low-Fat Milk May Benefit Kidney/Heart Health
  • Maker of Anti-Flu Drug Seeks Corporate Stockpiling
  • Anheuser-Busch to End Production of Alcohol Energy Drinks
  • High School Cigarette Use Levels Off

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Unsafe Water Causes Many Diseases, Deaths: WHO

More than 9 percent of diseases and 6 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by unsafe water, says a World Health Organization report released Thursday. Dengue fever and diarrhea are among the diseases that can be transmitted via water.

Developing countries are disproportionately affected by water-related health problems. For example, unsafe water causes less than 1 percent of deaths in developed countries, compared with an average of 8 percent in developing countries, Agence France Presse reported.

Death rates in certain poor countries can be much higher, such as 24 percent in Angola.

"In the 35 most affected countries, over 15 percent of diseases could easily be prevented by improved water, sanitation, and hygiene," said report author Annette-Pruss-Ustun, AFP reported.


Low-Fat Milk May Benefit Kidney/Heart Health

Low-fat milk may offer protection against poor kidney function linked to heart disease, according to American and Norwegian researchers.

They measured the kidney function of more than 5,000 adults, ages 45 to 84, and found that those who consumed at least one serving of low-fat milk or milk products a day were 37 percent less likely than those who had little or no low-fat milk to have poor kidney function related to heart disease, United Press International reported.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors noted that previous research suggests that milk protein, vitamin D, and magnesium may contribute to milk's potential heart health benefits, UPI reported.


Maker of Anti-Flu Drug Seeks Corporate Stockpiling

The maker of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu has begun a program to encourage company stockpiling of the drug -- for an annual fee.

The plan announced Thursday by Roche Holding AG coincided with an effort by the U.S. government to begin encouraging corporate stockpiling of anti-flu drugs, since government reserves wouldn't include enough medication to treat every person in the United States in the event of a widespread flu outbreak, the Associated Press reported.

Experts have long warned that the virulent strain of bird flu that has been largely confined to Asian fowl over the past several years could mutate into a form that's more easily passed from animal-to-person and person-to-person, sparking a human flu pandemic.

Roche's plan includes provisions to substitute new supplies when older doses of Tamiflu expire, the wire service said.


Anheuser-Busch to End Production of Alcohol Energy Drinks

Anheuser-Busch, the largest brewer in the United States, will no longer produce caffeinated alcoholic beverages nationwide in order to settle an investigation involving 11 state attorneys general, the Bloomberg news service reported Thursday.

The so-called "energy drinks," including "Tilt" and "Bud Extra," had been illegally marketed to people under age 21, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo declared in a statement announcing the agreement.

The attorneys general had said they were concerned about the mistaken belief that caffeine in the drinks would counter the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

The brewer issued a statement saying it would reformulate the recipes for the drinks, dropping caffeine as an ingredient. The company also has agreed to pay $200,000 to cover the investigations in the 11 states, which besides New York included: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, and Ohio, Bloomberg said.


High School Cigarette Use Levels Off

Cigarette use among high school students was virtually unchanged from 2003 to 2007, hovering at about 20 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The rate had declined from 36.4 percent in 1997 to 21.9 percent in 2003.