Health Highlights: May 5, 2008
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Insulin Pumps Linked to Deaths, Injuries Among Young People
Between 1996 and 2005, there were 13 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries reported among young people using insulin pumps to treat type 1 diabetes, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration study. The pumps offer an alternative to multiple daily injections of insulin by syringe.
The researchers didn't advise against the use of the pumps, but called for more safety studies of the popular devices and urged parents to be vigilant in monitoring their children's use of the pumps, the Associated Press reported.
In some cases, the insulin pumps malfunctioned, and in other cases users were careless or took risks, according to the study of young people, aged 12 to 21. The findings are published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"Parental oversight and involvement are important. Certainly teenagers don't always consider the consequences," said lead author Dr. Judith Cope, the AP reported.
For example, some teens didn't know how to use the pumps correctly, while others didn't take care of the pumps or dropped them, the study found.
Wal-Mart Expands Discounted Drug Program
Under an expanded discounted prescription drug program, Wal-Mart announced Monday that it will offer up to 350 generic drugs at $10 for a 90-day supply. The retailer will also offer several women's medications at a discount and lower the price of more than 1,000 over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
This is the latest phase of a program that began in 2006 by offering customers a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs for $4. Almost all of the prescription drugs in the $4 program are included in the $10 program, the Associated Press reported.
Several women's medications -- including drugs to treat breast cancer and hormone deficiency -- will be added to the list of discount prescriptions available for $9, the company said.
Wal-Mart also announced it will reduce the prices of more than 1,000 OTC medications to $4 or less. These price reductions cover more than one-third of Wal-Mart's OTC medicines, the AP reported.
Undeclared Soy in Little Bay Corn Bread and Muffin Mix
Undeclared soy has prompted a U.S.-wide recall of all bags of corn bread and muffin mix made by Little Bay Baking Company of Newmarket, N.H.
People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy could suffer a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products, warned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No illnesses have been reported.
The recalled corn bread and muffin mix, sold at retail stores and through the Internet, comes in a 12.6-ounce white paper tin tie bag package and was sold under the names Little Bay Baking and GFCFDiet.
The problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in Little Bay Baking's ordering process, according to company officials.
Consumers who bought the corn bread and muffin mix should return it to Little Bay Baking Company, 14 Hilton Dr., Newmarket, N.H., 03824 for a full refund. For more information, contact the company at 1-603-828-7236.
Dairy, Calcium Don't Promote Weight Loss: Study
There's no evidence that dairy or calcium consumption promotes weight loss, says a U.S. study that challenges claims that dairy products help people shed pounds.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine analyzed 49 clinical trials conducted from 1966 to 2007, United Press International reported. The studies examined how milk, dairy products or calcium intake affected body weight and body mass index.
The review authors found that neither dairy products nor calcium supplements helped people lose weight. Of the 49 studies included in the review, 41 showed no effect, five showed weight loss, two showed weight gain, and one showed a lower rate of weight gain.
"Our findings demonstrate that increasing dairy product intake does not consistently result in weight or fat loss and may actually have the opposite effect," the review authors said in a prepared statement, UPI reported.
The findings were published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
Report Lists Patients Who Should Be Left to Die During Disaster
A proposed list of seriously ill patients who would be left to die during a flu pandemic or other major health disaster has been compiled by a U.S. task force that included members from universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies, the Associated Press reported.
The list includes patients at high risk of death and a remote chance of long-term survival, including:
- People with severe trauma, which could include those with critical injuries from traffic crashes and shootings.
- People older than 85.
- Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.
- Severely burned patients older than 60.
- People with a severe chronic disease, such as poorly controlled diabetes or advanced heart failure or lung disease.
The proposed guidelines, published in the May issue of the journal Chest, are meant to be a blueprint for hospitals "so that everybody will be thinking in the same way" if there's a widespread health disaster, said task force report lead writer Dr. Asha Devereaux, a critical care specialist in San Diego.
Devereaux and colleagues said the guidelines are designed to ensure that resources are used in a uniform, objective way, the AP reported.
"If a mass casualty critical care event were to occur tomorrow, many people with clinical conditions that are survivable under usual health care system conditions may have to forgo life-sustaining interventions owing to deficiencies in supply or staffing," the task force wrote.
Public health law expert Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University called the report an important initiative but also "a political minefield and a legal minefield." The recommendations would probably violate federal laws against age discrimination and disability discrimination, said Gostin, who was not on the task force, the AP reported.
Body's Fat Cell Numbers Set in Adolescence: Study
The number of fat-hoarding cells in people's bodies are set during adolescence and no amount of dieting will alter that number later in life, according to a study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
The researchers tested hundreds of patients who lost large amounts of weight and found little change in the overall number of fat cells, BBC News reported.
"It explains why it's so difficult to lose weight and to keep it off -- those fat cells aren't going anywhere and they're crying out for more," said lead researcher Dr. Kristy Spalding.
The finding, published in the journal Nature, provide a "firm foundation" for further research into obesity, said Dr. Paul Trayhurn of the University of Liverpool. He was not involved in the study.
"It would be nice if we could find a way to lose fat by manipulating the numbers of fat cells, but there are a lot of other options higher up in the queue than that, such as diet and exercise," Trayhurn told BBC News. "The real benefit of this (study) is that it gives us solid evidence that we can use in future research into obesity and its causes."
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