- WHO Sets Standards for Melamine Contamination in Foods
- Alzheimer's Drug May Help Brain Cancer Patients
- Bed Sore-Related Hospitalizations Up 80%: Report
- Medicare, Social Security Said to Owe $52 Trillion
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
WHO Sets Standards for Melamine Contamination in Foods
Responding to mounting global concerns, the World Health Organization on Friday issued safety limits for levels of melamine in foods. The industrial chemical should not be present in baby formula, but trace levels are unavoidable in some foods, especially those consumed by adults, according to published reports.
Melamine has been blamed for sickening nearly 300,000 children in China and may have caused six deaths, Agence France-Presse reported.
Friday's action marks the first time the United Nations-affiliated agency has set safety limits for the chemical, which is used in the production of plastic products. WHO officials stressed, however, that melamine "should not be in food," even though traces are sometimes unavoidable, the news service said.
Melamine can cause kidney stones if consumed in excessive levels; in severe cases, it can cause kidney failure. The chemical has been routinely mixed into Chinese milk and dairy products to boost protein content.
Jorgen Schlundt, the WHO director for food safety, said the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) threshold states that a 50 kilogram (110-pound) person could tolerate 10 milligrams of melamine a day. This is not a "safe" level, but rather the amount a human being can consume without higher health risks, Schlundt said, according to the Associated Press.
"The TDI is meant to help national authorities set safe limits in food for withdrawal purposes should melamine be detected as a result of intentional adulteration," added the WHO.
The melamine scandal has prompted many countries around the world, including the 27-nation European Union, to ban Chinese milk imports, AFP said. The United States has put in place an import alert that requires importers to prove that Chinese milk products are melamine-free.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced an allowable threshold of 1 part per million of melamine in baby formula. The FDA had originally said that no levels of the chemical were acceptable.
Alzheimer's Drug May Help Brain Cancer Patients
An experimental Alzheimer's drug may be effective against highly aggressive brain tumors called malignant gliomas that are resistant to conventional treatments, according to Canadian researchers.
The University of Calgary team identified a "switch" activated by a protein already present in the brain that enables cancer cells to spread from the primary brain tumor. The Alzheimer's drug prevents that switch from being turned on, CBC News reported.
The study was published in the journal PLoS Biology.
"Several drug companies have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing drugs that target this process, although in Alzheimer's, not in cancer, so it's sort of a new way to think about it, and we have a leg up where we could make an impact," oncology professor Dr. Peter Forsyth told CBC News.
Clinical trials to test this treatment on brain cancer patients in Alberta could begin within a few years, he said.
Bed Sore-RelatedHospitalizations Up 80%: Report
Between 1993 and 2006 there was an 80 percent increase inhospitalizations for pressure ulcers -- better known as bed sores, according to the latest News and Numbers from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The agency's analysis of data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample found that of the 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006:
- Pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis in about 45,000 hospital admissions, compared to 35,800 in 1993.
- Pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis in 457,800 hospital admissions in 2006, compared to 245,600 in 1993. Most of these patients were admitted for pneumonia, infection or other medical problems and developed pressure ulcers before or after hospital admission.
- Death occurred in about one in 25 of cases in which pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis, and in about one in eight cases in which pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis.
- Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations last longer and cost more thanmany other hospitalizations. The overall average hospital stay is five days and costs about $10,000. The average pressure ulcer-related hospital stay is 13 to 14 days and costs $16,755 to $20,430, depending on medicalcircumstances.