Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sunscreen makers sued for misleading health claims

For more on the subject, see my article "Sun Worship or Withdrawal?"
Sunscreen makers sued for misleading health claims

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A consumer lawsuit filed on Thursday accuses sunscreen makers of exposing millions of people to cancer and other dangers through false and misleading claims about the effectiveness of their products.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, consolidates nine previous lawsuits filed by individuals and seeks class action status.

It charges that makers of sunscreen, including brands such as Coppertone, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Bullfrog and Neutrogena, inflate claims about their products' qualities, lulling consumers into a false sense of security over prolonged sun exposure.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer.

The lawsuit, filed by the law firms of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP and Abraham Fruchter & Twersky LLP, does not make any claims of personal injury.

Defendants named in the suit include Johnson & Johnson Inc., Schering-Plough Corp., Playtex Products Inc., Tanning Research Laboratories Inc. and Chattem Inc..

The suit focuses on labels that claim the sunscreens protect equally against the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays, and also claims of how long sunscreens promoted as waterproof remain effective in water.

It says the defendants' products may protect against harmful UVA rays with shorter wavelengths, but the skin remains exposed to harmful UVA rays with longer wavelengths that penetrate deep within the skin."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Study: Too Much Fluoride Can Be Bad

This information comes as no surprise to many who have been agitating for years not to put fluoride in drinking water. There is simply no reason to put fluoride in drinking water, especially since it is readily available for those who do wish to consume or utilize it. The fluoride placed in the drinking water is, in my understanding, a chemical byproduct that companies are trying to get rid of - and to be paid handsomely for. Putting fluoride in our drinking water - against many of our wills - constitutes drugging us without our permission. It seems like this issue directed at "naturally occurring" fluoride may be a backdoor for the authorities to finally admit that it's not a good idea. Some individuals have been rabblerousing against fluoridated water for decades, making exactly the same claims that are now finally being admitted by mainstream scientists. The difference is, of course, that in order not to admit culpability and, therefore, liability, they will have to claim that this "naturally occurring" fluoride is the problem and that we shouldn't add to it by putting more of the "good" fluoride into the water! That's the gracious way out.
Study: Too Much Fluoride Can Be Bad

Wed Mar 22, 11:06 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The high levels of fluoride that occur naturally in some drinking water can cause tooth and bone damage and should be reduced, the National Research Council said Wednesday.

The study did not analyze the benefits or risks of adding fluoride to drinking water. Instead it looked at the current maximum limit of 4 milligrams per liter. Approximately 200,000 people live in communities where that level occurs naturally in water.

The Council suggested further studies to establish a new maximum level, but noted that the problems associated with exposure to fluoride are very small at 2 milligrams per liter and less. Approximately 1.4 million people have drinking water with natural fluoride levels of 2.0 to 3.9 milligrams per liter, said the Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

More than 160 million Americans live in communities with artificially fluoridated water, which contains between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter.

Fluoride is added to water to help strengthen the teeth.

Drinking water with levels above the maximum can cause tooth discoloration and weaken the enamel, and long-term accumulation in the bones can result in an increase in fractures, the Council reported."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Further cannabis health risks revealed

Further cannabis health risks revealed

A new report by the Health Department in New South Wales has concluded that along with known mental health problems, cannabis addiction can have a serious impact on the user's physical health.

The report said cannabis abuse can lead to cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system problems; it can decrease short-term memory and also slow brain development at a young age.

NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos will open the state's fourth cannabis treatment clinic in southern Sydney today.

He said while use of cannabis had fallen, the increasing potency of the drug is posing increased health risks.

'Previous reports have indicated that the incidence of cannabis dependence has in fact been declining,' he said.

'What, however, has been increasing is the dangers of cannabis use and that's largely due to the fact that the cannabis now being used, compared to 10 years ago, is much more potent.'"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another Antibiotic Found to be Killing People

Another Antibiotic Found to be Killing People

The antibiotic Tequin, manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, can cause potentially fatal swings in blood sugar.

Greater Risk Than Previously Thought

A new study shows that the drug's risks are far greater than they were believed to be. The FDA has already warned doctors not to prescribe the antibiotic to diabetic patients. However, the blood sugar swings have now been observed even in patients without diabetes.

17 Times the Risk

An examination of the medical records of almost 1.5 million people older than 65 showed that those who took Tequin had four times the risk of low blood sugar, and almost 17 times the risk of high blood sugar.

Those who took Tequin were also far more likely to be hospitalized for blood sugar problems, and a number of such patients died.

Alternatives Available

Tequin made $150 million in worldwide sales last year. It is used to treat lung, sinus and urinary tract infections, and also some sexually transmitted diseases. Alternative antibiotics are available for all of its uses.

Cherry farmers to support health benefit research

Cherry farmers to support health benefit research
March 17, 2006


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Tart cherry growers will pick up the tab for a stepped-up research and marketing campaign to promote the fruit as a health food.

The Cherry Industry Administrative Board on Thursday approved a five-year assessment on the nation's tart cherry producers. The 'research and promotion initiative' will charge growers a half-penny per pound to raise millions of dollars for promoting cherries and studying possible medicinal benefits.

An estimated 110-plus million pounds of tart cherries were grown in northwest Michigan last year. That's more than half the estimated 190 million pounds produced in Michigan, which annually has more than three-quarters of the nation's total harvest.

The Food and Drug Administration last fall warned 29 companies selling cherry products such as juice concentrate and dried cherries not to make unproven claims that they treat or prevent ailments such as heat disease or arthritis.

Bob Gregory, a Suttons Bay farmer, said the assessment will cost his grower cooperative up to $140,000 a year but said it was a good investment.

'There's no doubt it's a pile of money,' he told the Traverse City Record-Eagle for a Friday story. 'But in order to get the message out, we can't do it alone.'

Leelanau County extension director Jim Bardenhagen said the assessment will further squeeze local growers' already-thin profit margins. But he said it's no time to cut back on efforts to find more outlets for tart cherries.

'We still produce more cherries than we can sell,' he said.

Gregory said cherry producers need to find a 'balancing act' between general marketing and promotion of cherries to consumers, and to get medical verification that cherries are beneficial.

'We need to entice the medical community to take this to the next level of clinical analysis,' Gregory said. 'We have not been able to take the story of the health benefits of cherries and carry that forward to the consumers at large.'

The assessment is collected through cherry processors and should raise around $1 million per year depending on the size of the national cherry harvest, said Perry Hedin of the administrative board. A nine-member committee from the administrative board and the Cherry Marketing Institute will set up and oversee the program.

Hedin said board members polled in recent weeks showed around 70 percent support for a growers surcharge."

Vaccines the subject of new Congressional investigation

Vaccines the subject of new Congressional investigation
By Jon Brodkin/ Daily News Staff
Friday, March 17, 2006

Congress has asked for a new investigation into a potential link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism, as some lawmakers claim the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has inadequately researched the topic.

'If the federal government is going to have a study whose results will be broadly accepted, such a study cannot be led by the CDC,' Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and seven other members of Congress wrote in a letter to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

A budget appropriation approved by Congress urges the NIEHS to examine the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a CDC database that follows 7 million immunized children from 1990 to the present.

Some lawmakers believe a new review of this database may show a link between autism and thimerosal -- a vaccine preservative containing mercury.

A local parent who said he believes his two autistic children were harmed by vaccines applauded Congress for requesting a new investigation. The parent, Jared Hansen of Framingham, said he thinks the CDC is reluctant to expose dangers of thimerosal because the agency is responsible for ensuring public acceptance of its vaccination program.

'They've proven far more willing to overstate the risks of disease and understate the danger of vaccination,' Hansen said. 'No one in their right mind can say that giving mercury intravenously is a smart thing to do.'

Autism rates soared during the 1990s when thimerosal was most heavily used in childhood vaccines. Levels of mercury injected into infants were 120 times greater than federal safety limits for oral ingestion of mercury, congressmen wrote to the NIEHS.

Government officials asked manufacturers in 1999 to remove the mercury-based preservative from vaccines, but it is still used in flu and tetanus shots.

CDC's research on the Vaccine Safety Datalink is flawed, Lieberman and his colleagues wrote, because it 'was based on data collected prior to the removal of thimerosal and failed to explicitly compare the outcome of children who received thimerosal-containing vaccines with those who did not.'

Thursday, March 16, 2006

US plans to scale back mad cow testing

US plans to scale back mad cow testing
Laws & Politics
US plans to scale back mad cow testing
By Sue Mueller
Mar 15, 2006, 10:28

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has considered scaling back the enhanced national BSE testing program, which resulted in the discovery of the third US case of mad cow disease. The US Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford indicated such a move in his announcement.

The reason may be this: the enhanced BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) testing program has been not intended as a measure to prevent mad cow disease. Rather, it is designed to survey the prevalence of mad cow disease, according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the USDA.

'Testing is not a food safety measure. Rather, it's a way to find out the prevalence of the disease,' The associated Press said, citing Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns who was at a trade meeting Monday in Warsaw, Poland.

The BSE testing program, part of the BSE surveillance plan, was initiated in March, 2004 to respond to the possible high risk of mad cow disease in the US after the first case of mad cow was discovered in December 2003. The goal of the plan is to test as many cattle in the targeted high risk population as possible in a 12-18 month period, APHIS states.

Under this program, 1000 cows at high risk are tested daily compared with 55 per day in 2003. The Department of Agriculture intends to call for a budget that supports 110 tests a day, according to the AP.

Reduction in the testing would lower the odds of discovering new cases in the US as APHIS acknowledges that more cases of mad cow disease should be expected when the enhanced testing program remains in place.

The testing program does not test all cows, but only those at a higher risk of mad cow disease. Cows at high risk include dead cows; non-ambulatory cattle or downers who can't walk into the slaughterhouse; cattle showing signs of a central nervous system disorder, or other signs associated with BSE. So far, more than 650,000 cows, a small fraction of the total cows slaughtered, have been tested for mad cow disease."

Teen Girls Need Lots of Sleep

Teen Girls Need Lots of Sleep

(HealthDay News) -- Research shows that teen and pre-teen girls need more than nine hours of sleep a night.

Without it, they become cranky, don't do as well at school, and may feel depressed.

Natural changes in the body may keep teenage girls wide awake long after they're supposed to be asleep, according to Girl Power, a national public education campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

So what can teen girls do to make it easier to fall asleep? Girl Power suggests keeping regular bedtime hours, relaxing before going to bed (avoid reading scary novels), playing sports in the afternoon but not right before bed, and avoiding foods and drinks that contain caffeine."

Chili's Heat Kills Prostate Cancer Cells

Chili's Heat Kills Prostate Cancer Cells
By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay ReporterThu Mar 16, 5:07 PM ET

THURSDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Capsaicin, the component that gives jalapeno peppers their heat, may also kill prostate cancer cells, a new study suggests.

Initial experiments in cancer cells and mice show that capsaicin causes prostate cancer cells to undergo a kind of suicide. Researchers speculate that, in the future, pills containing capsaicin might be used as therapy to prevent prostate cancer's return.

According to their report, capsaicin caused almost 80 percent of prostate cancer cells in the mice to die. In addition, prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in untreated mice.

'Capsaicin inhibits the growth of human prostate cancer cell in Petri dishes and mice,' said lead researcher Dr. H. Phillip Koeffler, director of hematology and oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Based on the findings, Koeffler believe the next step is a trial to see if it works in patients with prostate cancer.

The report appears in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.

Capsaicin probably has several effects, Koeffler said. Most noticeable is its effect in blocking NF-kappa Beta, a molecular mechanism that promotes cancer cell growth, he noted.

In addition, capsaicin also was effective against leukemia, and might be effective in slowing or preventing the growth of other cancers as well, he added."