Health Highlights: Nov. 4, 2009

HealthDay + More
  • BPA in Canned Foods Cause For Concern, Group Says
  • Breast Cancer May Change When It Spreads: Study
  • Tests Can Detect Early Dementia: Study
  • Cereal's 'Immunity' Claim Outrages Experts
  • FDA Rejects Cholesterol Drug Application
  • Diabetes Drug Label to Address Safety Concerns: FDA

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

BPA in Canned Foods Cause for Concern, Group Says

Measurable levels of the chemical additive bisphenol A (BPA) were found in a variety of canned goods, including some that claimed to be BPA-free, according to an analysis released this week by the nonprofit advocacy group Consumers Union.

Studies have linked BPA to reproductive abnormalities and increased risk of diabetes and cancer. Some countries have banned the sale of baby bottles made with BPA, which is a plastic hardener and a component of epoxy resin. BPA is used in many products, including food-can linings.

Consumers Union said children who eat multiple servings of some of the food products included in the analysis could ingest amounts of BPA "near levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies," the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Consumers Union said the findings lend support to calls to ban BPA from use in materials that come in contact with foods and beverages.

An FDA spokesman told the Times that a review of existing evidence about BPA's health effects was nearing completion, and that the agency would "make a decision how to proceed" by the end of the month.


Breast Cancer May Change When It Spreads: Study

About 40 percent of breast tumors change when they spread, which means that many patients with metastatic breast cancer may require treatment alterations, say Scottish researchers.

They examined 211 breast tumors that had traveled to the lymph nodes in the armpit. This is the location breast cancer usually spreads to first, BBC News reported. The researchers were surprised to find that the breast cancer had changed in so many patients and in so many ways.

"This suggests there is a need to test which type of disease a woman has in the lymph nodes, because it could radically alter the course of treatment she receives," said lead researcher Dr. Dana Faratian, of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit in Edinburgh.

"This research may show why some women whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes do not respond to treatment," said Professor David Harrison, director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Annals of Oncology.


Tests Can Detect Early Dementia: Study

Early dementia can be detected using memory and language tests, say British researchers.

Their 20-year study included 241 elderly people who were given regular tests to assess their thinking and cognitive abilities, BBC News reported. Scrutiny of the test results revealed subtle clues associated with later mental impairment.

The researchers found that participants who had more difficulty with language expression, learning and recall tasks went on to develop mild cognitive impairment or pre-dementia.

The study appears in the journal Neurology.

Most dementias are diagnosed only after considerable loss of brain tissue. These findings could help lead to earlier diagnosis of dementia, which is important because treatment is most effective when started early, BBC News reported.


Cereal's 'Immunity' Claim Outrages Experts

Health and nutrition experts are attacking Kellogg for claims that one of its cereals benefits children's immune systems because it contains increased levels of vitamins A, C and E.

Bold lettering on the front of Cocoa Krispies boxes claims the cereal "Now helps support your child's IMMUNITY," a declaration likely to catch the eye of parents worried about the danger the H1N1 virus presents to their children.

"The idea that eating Cocoa Krispies will keep a kid from getting swine flu, or from catching a cold, doesn't make sense," Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, told USA Today. "Yes, these nutrients are involved in immunity, but I can't think of a nutrient that isn't involved in the immune system."