Archive for September, 2008

One energy drink or 12 cans of Coke?

Can of soda has 71 mg of caffeineEnergy drinks can contain as much caffeine as two six-packs of Coke, according to a recent study out of Johns Hopkins.  Unlike soda, such as Coke or Pepsi, energy drinks are sold as dietary supplements and aren’t required to limit the amount of caffeine the way traditional sodas are.  Although soda manufacturers aren’t required to disclose on the label the amount of caffeine in their products, they are restricted by the FDA to 71mg of caffeine per 12 ounces.  Some energy drinks have been found to have as much as 500 mg of caffeine, and are not required to reveal this on the label.  

This is legal in the United States because energy drinks fall into the category of dietary supplements.   Interestingly, an over-the-counter stimulant medication, which falls into a different category, containing 100 mg of caffeine per tablet must include warnings on the label.

The public is not only unaware of the amount of caffeine in these products but also the consequences of caffeine intoxication, according to the researchers.  The symptoms of caffeine toxicity include nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, GI upset, tremors, tachycardia, and psychomotor agitation.  At least 42 cases have been reported to US poison control centers as a result of energy drinks between 2002 and 2004, but more recently energy drinks are growing in popularity and the incidence of caffeine toxicity is on the rise. Further, these drinks are heavily marketed towards young males, many of whom do not have the tolerance to caffeine that many adults have. 

Another danger of high-caffeine energy drinks is that combining caffeine and alcohol can be a problem.  One study, for example, found that Red Bull mixed with vodka reduced the participants’ perception of motor coordination compared with vodka alone.

via MedPageToday, Sept 25, 2008

Instant coffee and tea products from China contaminated with Melamine

Cup of coffeeSeven instant coffee and tea products are being recalled because of possible contamination with melamine, according to the FDA.  The products were manufactured in China, and sold in the United States. 

All sold under the “Mr. Brown” label, the coffee and tea products have been marketed in the U.S. by King Car Food Industrial and were made by Shandong Duqing, a Chinese manufacturer.  The recalled products include:

  • Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (2-in-1Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)

White Rabbit Creamy Candies, were also found to be contaminated by Melamine by the New Zealand Food Safety Agency recently.  The FDA has said it was recommending that “consumers not eat White Rabbit Creamy Candy and that retailers and foodservice operations remove the product from sale or service.”

Thousands of Chinese children have developed kidney stones related to recent Melamine contamination in infant formula.  As of September 25, 2008, the FDA has not yet found any milk-based products imported into the United States from China contaminated with Melamine. The investigation is ongoing, however, and has focused on areas with large Chinese communities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. 

via MedPage Today, Sept. 26, 2008
via FDA, September 26, 2008

Symptoms Linked to Ovarian Cancer

A new study has found that ovarian cancer is associated with a specific set of symptoms that should trigger further evaluation by a physician, or ideally a gynecologist. As a result of this study, a statement has been released to the public urging that a woman be evaluated if she has the following nonspecific symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

FDA recommends a flu shot for children over six months old

Small childThe CDC now recommends flu vaccine coverage for children ages 6 months to 18 years.  

This new recommendation was based on the decision that the vaccine is both safe and effective for kids as young as six months. But also support for the recommendation was based on increasing evidence that the flu has a serious impact on school-aged children and their contacts, including extra parental time off work, missed school for the child, increased antibiotic use, and more medical care visits.

The best time to get a flu vaccination is from early October to mid-November. 

Read more about the flu from Bay Area Medical Information:

via MedPage Today, Sept. 25, 2008

FDA: Gardasil may help prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer

The FDA recently released a report indicating that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, may also help prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer in girls and women between the ages of nine and 26.  The ruling was in response to a two-year follow-up study by Merck, Gardasil’s manufacturer.  The study indicated that the drug was “highly-effective” in preventing precancerous vulvar and vaginal lesions in women who tested negative for HPV.

Along with these findings, Merck has also revised the label to indicate that the vaccine is not effective in women over the age of 26. 

The FDA approved Gardasil in 2006 for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancerous lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.  Gardasil is also approved for the prevention of genital warts caused by types 6 and 11.

33 people banned from flying due to TB infections

In June of 2007 the United States government instituted a Do Not Board list for people thought to have contagious, and possibly drug-resistant, strains of tuberculosis.  Since that time, they have received 42 requests and added 33 names to the list.  Those not added either agreed not to fly or were not contagious. 

The US instituted the list after an Atlanta lawyer, Andrew Speaker, managed to return to the US after being asked not to fly and was quarantined by the CDC upon returning to the country. 

Eighteen of the original 33 have been removed from the list: 16 because they were no longer contagious and two because they didn’t have TB.

Healthy living starts in your mouth

A report based on several studies has hinted at a possible correlation between a Mediterranean diet and a reduction in mortality related to cardiovascular disease, cancer and even some neurological disorders.  There are always limitations with these types of findings as they are based on a compilation of studies.  However, time and again, the Mediterranean diet seems to be associated with good health.  Specifically, they found a 9% reduction in overall mortality and a 13% reduction in incidences Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

One important caveat to this study and the Mediterranean diet in general is the risk associated with alcohol consumption.  There are significant hazards associated with alcohol and certain people should abstain from drinking altogether.

via MedPageToday

Broccoli may slow progression of COPD

A recent study has indicated that  an anti-oxidant found in broccoli, sulforaphane, may help slow the progression of COPD.  The work is preliminary and conducted solely on mouse cells, but this research may hold the key to determining why some people develop emphysema while others don’t. 

While eating broccoli may be good for your lungs, if you’re a smoker, the best thing to do for them is put down the cigarette.

via MedPageToday

Chinese infant formula contaminated

Mother feeding babyThe FDA has issued a Health Information Advisory regarding contaminated infant formula manufactured in China. Melamine is the contaminant which can cause kidney disease. It has been reported that a number of Chinese infants who have consumed formula, contaminated with melamine and manufactured in China, are suffering from kidney stones. This is a rare condition in infants.

According to the FDA, “Currently, no Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have fulfilled the requirements to sell this product in the United States. However, FDA officials are investigating whether or not infant formula manufactured in China is being sold in specialty markets which serve the Asian community. Caregivers should not feed infant formula manufactured in China to infants and should replace any product from China with an appropriate infant formula manufactured in the United States. Individuals should contact their health care professional if they have questions regarding their infant’s health or if they note changes in their infant’s health status.”

To learn more, read the 2008 MedWatch Safety Summary, including a link to the FDA Health Information Advisory 

The first few hours after a stroke are critical in preserving healthy brain function

The effects of a stroke on the brainIf you have symptoms of a stroke, it is a medical emergency. Brain tissue dies quickly when deprived of oxygen. Every minute you wait, hoping your symptoms will go away, you lose almost 2 million brain cells. 

Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke  and act quickly.