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Health Updates 27 March 2012

  • FDA told to move on antibiotic use in livestock: “A federal judge in New York City has ordered the FDA to start proceedings to revoke approvals for the use of antibiotics in livestock, a practice blamed for the spread of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ bacteria.  In a case brought by five environmental and consumer advocacy groups, Judge Theodore Katz of the Southern District of New York ruled that the FDA had violated its own regulations when, in 1977, it identified risks to human health from widespread antibiotic treatment of livestock but then failed for nearly 35 years to take action….In 1977, the FDA officially concluded that low doses of penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics — commonly used to promote weight gain in chickens, hogs and other livestock, rather than to treat infections — may foster emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.  The agency issued notices at that time that it intended to withdraw approvals of the agents for this purpose.  But, said Judge Katz, ‘[al]though the notices were properly promulgated and over twenty drug sponsors requested hearings on the matter, the FDA never held hearings or took any further action on the proposed withdrawals’.” (John Gever, MedPage Today)
  • Don’t forget to eat your fruits, veggies…and popcorn?  “Want a healthy snack?  Consider passing the popcorn.  A new study says the whole-grain treat contained more of the ‘good for you’ antioxidants called polyphenols than some fruits or vegetables….In the average US diet, fruits provide 255 mg of polyphenols per day and vegetables provide 218 mg per day.  One serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of the average daily intake of polyphenols per person in the United States, the Pennsylvania researchers said in a society news release.  The levels of polyphenols in popcorn reported in this study were higher than previously believed.  The levels were similar to those found in nuts and 15 times the levels found in whole-grain tortilla chips….The investigators also found that the hulls of the popcorn — the bits that tend to get caught in the teeth — have the highest concentrations of polyphenols and fiber.”  Of course, adding butter, salt and other calorie-rich flavorings can ruin the whole health benefit!  But popcorn is the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain.  Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories.  About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.  One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain.  (HealthDay)
  • Living alone linked to greater risk of depression: “People who live alone have a nearly 80 percent greater risk of depression than those who live with others, new research suggests.  Over the past three decades, the number of people living on their own in the United States has doubled, to one in three people….In women, one-third of the increased risk of depression was linked to sociodemographic factors such as low income and lack of education….The main risk factors for men included heavy drinking and a lack of support in the workplace or in their private lives.  ‘This kind of study usually underestimates risk because people who are at the most risk tend to be the people who are least likely to complete the follow-up,’ study author Laura Pulkki- Raback, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, said in a journal news release.  ‘We also were not able to judge how common untreated depression was’.” (Womenshealth.gov)
  • US Tuberculosis cases hit record low, CDC says: “Tuberculosis rates fell to an all-time low in the United States in 2011, but the disease continues to disproportionately infect racial and ethnic minorities, those who are foreign-born and people infected with HIV, federal officials reported Thursday.  ‘Despite the fact that TB is declining it is important to be vigilant about TB and the hardest-hit communities,’ said report co-author Dr. Gloria Oramasionwu, an Epidemic Intelligence Services Officer with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  ‘But, if TB control measures aren’t maintained here and internationally, there is a possibility we could see an increase in TB,’ she said.  Asians now have the highest number of TB cases, surpassing Hispanics….Tuberculosis is caused by germs spread through the air from person to person.  It typically affects the lungs, but can also target other organs and body parts, such as the brain, the kidneys or the spine.  Left untreated, the disease can be fatal, according to the CDC.  Typical symptoms include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.  Symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and coughing up blood, the agency said.  TB is of particular risk to people with HIV….Drug-resistant TB is a worldwide problem…”. (MedlinePlus)
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