Health Updates 4 June 2012

  • Supplement laced with harmful meds: “The FDA issued a warning to consumers against using a Mexican ‘natural’ dietary supplement promoted for pain relief due to unlabeled and potentially harmful pharmaceutical ingredients.  The warning for Reumofan Plus was issued after the agency received a number of adverse event reports, including incidences of liver injury, sudden worsening of glucose control, weight gain, swelling, leg cramps and adrenal suppression.  After laboratory analysis, the agency found Reumofan Plus contains the prescription drugs diclofenac sodium and methocarbamol.  Diclofenac sodium is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that may cause cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke as well as serious gastrointestinal adverse events including bleeding, ulceration, and fatal perforation of the stomach and intestines, the FDA said in a statement.  Methocarbamol is a muscle relaxant that can cause sedation, dizziness, hypotension and can impair mental and physical performance to drive or operate machinery….The Mexican Ministry of Health ordered the manufacturer, Riger Naturals, to recall the product and has issued a health warning to the public….The product is labeled in Spanish and marketed as a treatment for arthritis, muscle pain, osteoporosis, bone cancer and other conditions, the statement said.  It is sold at retail outlets, flea markets and through online distributors.” (Cole Petrochko, MedPage Today)
  • No new name for high-fructose corn syrup: “The United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected a request from the Corn Refiners Association to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup.  The association, which represents the companies that make the syrup, had petitioned the FDA in September 2010 to begin calling the much-maligned sweetener ‘corn sugar’.  The request came on the heels of a national advertising campaign promoting the syrup as a natural ingredient made from corn.  But in a letter, Michael M. Landa, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, denied the petition, saying that the term ‘sugar’ is used only for food ‘that is solid, dried, and crystallized’.  ‘HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose,’ the letter stated.  ‘Thus, the use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or it characterizing properties’.   In addition, the FDA concluded that the term ‘corn sugar’ has been used to describe the sweetener dextrose and therefore should not be used to describe high-fructose corn syrup.  The agency also said the term ‘corn sugar’ could pose a risk to consumers who have been advised to avoid fructose because of a hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption.”  The Corn Refiners Association said the FDA rejected the petition on narrow technicalities. (NY Times)
  • Worldwide cancer incidence predicted to rise 75% by 2030: “The worldwide incidence of cancer is expected to increase by 75 percent by 2030,  with a projected increase of more than 90 percent in the poorest nations, a new study reveals.  Rates of certain types of cancer (such a cervical and stomach cancer) appear to be declining in some developing countries, but these reductions are likely to be offset by substantial increases in the types of cancer associated with a ‘westernized’ lifestyle, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, according to the report published online May 31 in The Lancet Oncology.  For the study, researchers analyzed International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) data from 814 countries in 2008 in order to examine how current and future cancer trends vary between countries based on their levels of development, as measured by their Human Development Index (HDI).  Currently, countries with a low HDI (mainly sub-Saharan Africa) have a high incidence of cancers associated with infection (particularly cervical cancer), as well as liver cancer, stomach cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma.  Countries with a higher HDI (such as Australia, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom) have higher rates of cancers associated with smoking (lung cancer), reproductive risk factors, obesity and diet (breast, prostate and colorectal cancer).  Improved living standards in countries with a lower HDI may lead to a decrease in some infection-related cancers, but these countries may see a sharp increase in the types of cancer currently seen in higher-development countries…Cancer incidence rates could increase by 93 percent in low HDI countries by 2030, and by 78 percent in medium HDI countries (such as South Africa, China and India) over the same period…The researchers also found that 40 percent of worldwide cancer cases in 2008 occurred in countries with very high HDI levels, even though they had just 15 percent of the global population.” (HealthDay)
  • Health tip: Warning signs of infant dehydration  “Infants and young children are no less prone to diarrhea than older people.  The condition can lead to dehydration, which can be especially dangerous for the very young.  The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse mentions these warning signs of dehydration — which is a lack of enough body fluids — in babies and young children:
    • Dryness of the mouth and tongue.
    • Crying with no tears.
    • Not having a wet diaper for at least three hours.
    • A sunken appearance to the eyes or cheeks.
    • Running a high fever.
    • Acting unusually cranky or sleepy. (

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