Health Highlights: Sept. 5, 2008

HealthDay SHARE
  • Fablyn Increases Risk of Blood Clots: FDA Document
  • U.S. Army Suicides Could Hit Highest Levels Since 2003
  • Intellectual Tasks May Boost Calorie Intake
  • U.S. Workers Face Higher Health Care Costs
  • Study Finds 27% of University Students Addicted to Tanning
  • Bisphenol A Impairs Brain's Ability to Create Connections

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

Fablyn Increases Risk of Blood Clots: FDA Document

While the new osteoporosis drug Fablyn has been shown to be effective in postmenopausal women with a higher risk of bone fractures, the drug also increased the risk of blood clots and invasive gynecological visits, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory board briefing document released Thursday.

The document was made public in advance of the advisory board's scheduled Monday meeting to decide whether to recommend approval of the drug, Forbes reported.

In 2005 and 2006, the FDA issued "non-approvable" letters for Fablyn, which acknowledged the drug's effectiveness, but questioned whether it increased the risk of blood clots and stroke.

A five-year study of more than 9,000 women conducted by Pfizer and development partner Ligand Pharmaceuticals found that the drug didn't increase the risk of stroke but did increase the risk of blood clots, Forbes reported.

-----

U.S. Army Suicides Could Hit Highest Levels Since 2003

The U.S. Army appears headed for a record number of suicides this year and may top the civilian suicide rate for the first time since the Vietnam war, Agence France-Presse reported.

Last year, 115 soldiers took their own lives, the most ever on record in a single year for the army. So far this year, 93 soldiers have committed suicide, army officials said Thursday.

"With four months left, we're probably going to surpass 115," said Colonel Eddie Stephens, the army's deputy director of human resources policy, AFP reported.

If the current pace of soldier suicides continues, the army will exceed the U.S. civilian suicide rate of 19.5 per 100,000 people in 2005, the latest data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The army's suicide rate has steadily risen from 12.4 per 100,000 in 2003, despite efforts to increase soldiers' awareness of the issue and to ease the stigma of seeking help for mental health troubles, AFP reported.

-----

Intellectual Tasks May Boost Calorie Intake

Hard thinking may make you eat more and put on weight, suggests a Canadian study.

Universite Laval researchers invited 14 students to eat as much as they wanted after doing three different low energy tasks: sitting and relaxing; reading and summarizing a text; and finishing memory and attention tests on a computer, CTV News reported.

Compared to relaxing, the students burned only three more calories while doing the two mental tasks. However, they ate 203 more calories after summarizing the text and 253 more calories after the computer tests.

Blood tests showed the students had more pronounced changes in glucose and insulin levels while doing the mental tasks than when resting, CTV News reported. The brain uses glucose as fuel and may try to maintain its glucose balance by taking in more food, the researchers suggested.

"Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries," said lead author Jean-Philippe Chaput said. "This is a factor that should not be ignored, considering that more and more people hold jobs of an intellectual nature."

-----

U.S. Workers Face Higher Health Care Costs

About 59 percent of U.S. companies plan to control rising health costs in 2009 by increasing employees' deductibles, co-pays or out-of-pocket spending limits, according to a survey released Thursday by the Mercer consulting firm.

Mercer said health care costs for both employers and workers will increase an average of 5.7 percent next year, the same as this year's increase, the Associated Press reported. There was a 6.1 percent increase in 2007.