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Cigarette company funds cancer study

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, March 27, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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          More Honduran cantaloupes recalled

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
expanded a voluntary recall of Honduran cantaloupes because 
of possible salmonella contamination. Central American Pro-
duce Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., distributed the fruit 
across the United States and Canada. The FDA said the re-
called product appears to be associated with a salmonella 
outbreak in the United States and Canada. The FDA said con-
sumers who have recently bought cantaloupes should check 
with the place of purchase to determine if the fruit came 
from Agropecuaria Montelibano. The cantaloupes were distri-
buted in medium brown cardboard cartons displaying the lab-
el "Produce of Honduras" on each side panel. On the cartons'
end panel is the label "Grown, packed and shipped by Agro-
pecuaria Montelibano, San Lorenzo, Valle, Honduras." The 
FDA said the cantaloupes were distributed nationwide under 
several brand names, including "Mike's Melons" and "Mayan 
Pride." The recall is an expansion of a Monday recall that 
involved Charlie's-brand cantaloupe products distributed in 
eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana. The Canadian Food 
Inspection Agency issued a similar recall. Consumers with 
questions can contact Central American Produce Inc. at 
954-943-2303.

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              AIDS experts go back to basics 

WASHINGTON, -- The head of the U.S. agency in charge of AIDS
research says scientists need to go back to basics to find a
vaccine against the HIV virus. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the 
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said 
the agency will re-evaluate the use of the $1.5 billion it 
spends on AIDS research, The New York Times reported Wednes-
day.  He said more basic laboratory research is needed to 
understand the way the body and experimental vaccines res-
pond to HIV. "There is not an immediate solution to the pro-
blem," Fauci told the newspaper at a summit Tuesday in 
Bethesda, Md., to discuss fallout from last year's failure 
of the most promising candidate for an HIV vaccine. Fauci 
rejected the AIDS Health Care Foundation's call for the 
suspension of money for HIV vaccine research in favor of 
increased AIDS prevention efforts. "Under no circumstances 
will we stop AIDS vaccine research," he said.
 
 
         Low radon gas levels might be beneficial

WORCESTER, Mass., -- Scientists have found exposure to the 
low levels of radon gas found in most U.S. homes might cut 
the risk of developing lung cancer by up to 60 percent.
The study by researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute,
the Fallon Clinic and Fallon Community Health Plan, is said 
to be the first to observe a statistically significant hor-
metic effect of low-level radon exposure. Home exposure to 
radon, a naturally occurring radioactive decay product of 
radium, has been thought to be the second leading cause of 
lung cancer, after cigarette smoking. Chemically inert, it 
can percolate from the ground into basements. "It is impor-
tant to note that these new results do not dispute the lung 
cancer risk associated with higher levels of radon expo-
sure … ," said Donald Nelson, now professor emeritus of phy-
sics at WPI who initiated the study during the 1990s. "Nev-
ertheless, the results represent a dramatic departure from 
previous results and beliefs," added Nelson. "Of course, a 
single epidemiological study is seldom regarded as definit-
ive, so our results point to the need for new studies using 
our techniques." The research appears in the March issue of 
the journal Health Physics.

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         Fruit fly brains aid medical researchers
  
COLUMBIA, Mo.,-- U.S. scientists have discovered a mechanism
in fruit fly memory development that might benefit Parkin-
son's disease patients. A University of Missouri researcher 
studying Drosophila, a type of fruit fly, found that by man-
ipulating levels of certain compounds, key genes related to 
memory can be isolated and tested. Assistant Professor Troy 
Zars said the results of his study might also eventually 
lead to discoveries in the treatment of depression. "The 
implication for human health is that it could influence our 
understanding of the cognitive decline associated with Park-
inson's disease and depression in humans," said Zars. "This 
research is important because by studying a simple brain, it
will help us ultimately understand complex neural systems."
The research appears in the Proceedings of the National 
Academy of Sciences.
  
  
           Cigarette company funds cancer study

NEW YORK, -- The parent company of a cigarette maker paid 
for a U.S. study that said increased use of CT scans can 
prevent lung cancer deaths. The 2006 Weill Cornell Medical 
College study, published in the New England Journal of Med-
icine, said 80 percent of lung cancer deaths could be prev-
ented by CT scans. A New York Times investigation found that
the study was almost entirely underwritten by grants from 
Vector Group, the parent company of the Liggett Group, maker
of Liggett Select, Eve, Grand Prix, Quest and Pyramid cigar-
ettes. The newspaper said Vector Group spokesman Paul Camin-
iti confirmed that the company donated $3.6 million to the 
Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention & 
Treatment over three years. He said the company "had no con-
trol or influence over the research." Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen,
the NEJM's editor in chief, said the medical journal was not
aware of the relationship between the cigarette maker and 
the research conducted by Weill Cornell's Dr. Claudia 
Henschke, who is president of the foundation. Henschke and 
her collaborator said there was never any attempt to hide 
the source of the study's funding.

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           FDA warns about dietary supplements

WASHINGTON, -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has 
advised consumers not to use "Blue Steel" or "Hero" dietary 
supplements. The FDA said it considers the supplements to be
unapproved drugs that haven't been found safe or effective. 
The agency also said the products contain undeclared ingred-
ients that might negatively affect a person's blood pres-
sure. Both products -- touted as "all natural" dietary supp-
lements -- are promoted and sold over the Internet for the 
treatment of erectile dysfunction and for sexual enhance-
ment. However, FDA officials said Blue Steel and Hero pro-
ducts do not qualify as dietary supplements because they 
contain undeclared and unapproved substances that are simi-
lar in chemical structure to sildenafil, the active ingredi-
ent in Viagra, an FDA-approved prescription drug for erec-
tile dysfunction. Sildenafil might interact with nitrates 
found in some prescription drugs and can lower blood pres-
sure to dangerous levels, the agency said. Blue Steel is 
sold in bottles containing 10 blue capsules or blister packs
containing two blue capsules. Hero is sold in blister packs 
containing two blue capsules. Both products are distributed 
by Active Nutraceuticals or the Marion Group of Carrollton, 
Ga.
    
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