Health Highlights: Sept. 20, 2007
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Pro Golf Announces Anti-Doping Policy
Following the lead of other major sports, professional golf's top organizations have announced an anti-doping policy that will take effect in 2008. The policy includes a list of banned substances including narcotics, stimulants, anabolic steroids, hormones, beta blockers and masking agents.
The organizations involved in the policy are the: PGA Tour; European Tour; U.S. Golf Association; Royal & Ancient Golf Club; Augusta National Golf Club; PGA of America; and the LPGA Tour, the Associated Press reported.
The policy will be coordinated so that a punishment imposed on a player for a doping infraction will be recognized and enforced worldwide.
Golf officials say there is no evidence of golfers taking performance-enhancing drugs, but they'd been facing increasing pressure to develop an anti-doping policy, AP reported.
Chinese Food Products Banned From Philippine Schools
Four Chinese food products reported to contain cancer-causing formaldehyde have been banned from school canteens in the Philippines, the country's education department announced Thursday.
The school ban -- which includes the popular White Rabbit and Milk Candy brand, Bairong Grape Biscuits and the Yong Kang Foods Grape Biscuit -- comes after health officials issued a public warning about the products, Agence France-Presse reported.
Tests conducted on samples of the products proved positive for formaldehyde, which is commonly used to preserve dead bodies.
In July, the Philippines government banned imports of the four food items. Only the makers of White Rabbit -- Guan Sheng Yuan Group Co. -- have denied using formaldehyde, AFP reported.
FDA Targets CFCs in Asthma Inhalers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it wants to eliminate the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in metered dose inhalers for epinephrine, which are used to provide temporary relief of occasional symptoms of mild asthma.
Under the proposal, epinephrine measured dose inhalers (MDIs) with CFCs would be taken off the market by the end of 2010, United Press International reported. After the proposed change is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day public comment period.
There don't appear to be any major technical barriers to formulating epinephrine as a product that doesn't release CFCs, FDA officials said.
It's believed that CFCs -- banned from most consumer aerosol products in the U.S. for years -- damage the Earth's ozone layer, UPI reported.
Bill Gives FDA More Power to Ensure Drug Safety
A bill passed Wednesday by the U.S. House would give the Food and Drug Administration new powers to ensure the safety of prescription drugs, including the authority to require label changes that warn doctors and patients of newly emerging risks, the Associated Press reported.
The bill, approved in a 405-7 vote, was hailed as the most significant drug safety legislation in more than 40 years. It's expected that the Senate will pass the bill as early as Thursday and that President Bush will sign it into law.
It took months of negotiations to get widespread support for the bill, which renews for five years two programs to collect fees from drug and medical device makers to help cover the FDA's costs of reviewing new products submitted for agency approval, the AP reported.
Under the bill, drug companies would have to publicly release results of all clinical trials of drug performance, but it hasn't yet been determined how much information the drug makers would have to disclose.
In addition to giving the FDA authority to require new label warnings, the bill gives the agency the power to force drug makers to conduct further safety studies of medicines when needed, the AP reported.
The bill also allows the FDA to fine companies that fail to conduct follow-up studies on drugs after they've been approved by the agency. Drug makers often promise to do such studies but are often slow to start or complete them, if ever.
Gardasil Protects Against Multiple HPV Strains
The Gardasil vaccine blocks infection by 10 other strains of human papilloma virus (HPV), in addition to the four strains targeted by the vaccine, according to new data from vaccine maker Merck & Co.
The company said that means that Gardasil offers protection -- at least partially -- against 90 percent of the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer, the Associated Press reported. The data was presented Wednesday at a medical conference.
This is the first evidence of any vaccine providing cross-protection against other HPV strains, according to Merck. About 15 of the more than 60 strains of HPV are thought to cause cervical cancer.
Gardasil, approved for use in 85 countries and being considered for approval in 40 others, is the only cervical cancer vaccine currently on the market, the AP reported.
Worldwide, nearly 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year and 233,000 women die of the disease.
Soccer Burns More Fat, Builds More Muscle Than Jogging
Soccer burns more fat and builds more muscle than jogging, concludes a three-month Danish study that looked at men ages 31 to 33. The researchers also found that soccer players felt less tired after their workout because they had had more fun.
At the start of the study, the men were divided into groups that were told to play soccer, jog, or do no exercise. They all had similar health profiles at the start of the study.
After 12 weeks, there was a 3.7 percent decline in body fat among the soccer players and a two percent decline among joggers, the Associated Press reported.
The soccer players increased their muscle mass by about two kilograms (4.5 pounds), but there was no significant muscle mass change noted in the joggers. Men who did no exercise had little change in body fat or muscle mass. The study was presented last week at the annual conference of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
The findings are interesting but it's difficult enough to get people to do moderate exercise, let alone participate in a high-intensity sport like soccer, noted Nick Cavill, a research associate at the British Heart Foundation at Oxford University, the AP reported.
"There might be enormous benefits to telling people to play (soccer) twice a week. But if they're not going to do it, then that message may be useless," he said.
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