Health Highlights: Feb. 13, 2009

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Officials Order Recall of Texas Peanut Plant's Products

The discovery of filth in a crawl space above a production area has prompted the recall of all products ever shipped from the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview, Texas, CNN reported.

The recall was ordered Thursday by the Texas Department of State Health Services after inspectors discovered dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers in the crawl space.

The health department said the plant's ventilation system pulled debris "from the infested crawl space into production areas of the plant resulting in the adulteration of exposed food products," CNN reported.

The plant opened in March 2005 and produced oil-roasted and dry-roasted peanuts, peanut meal and granulated peanut. Plant officials voluntarily halted operations on Monday.

"Our understanding is that the bulk of their products go to other food manufacturers. We're not aware of any direct sales to consumers," state health department spokesman Doug McBride told CNN.

Tests are being conducted to determine whether any of the plant's products contain salmonella or other disease-causing contaminants. The plant will not be allowed to reopen without state health department approval.

Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Blakely, Ga., has been linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that's sickened 600 people and killed nine. On Wednesday, it was revealed that company owner Stewart Parnell ordered tainted products to be shipped even after he received test results identifying the presence of salmonella. E-mails obtained by a House of Representatives' panel investigating the outbreak, showed Parnell ordered the tainted products to be shipped anyway, because he was worried about lost sales, the Associated Press reported.

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Gum Disease Activates HIV, Study Says

Gum disease produces an acid that may push HIV-infected people to develop full-blown AIDS, a Japanese study says.

Butyric acid hinders an enzyme called HDAC that prevents the proliferation of HIV, Kuniyasu Ochiai, chair of the microbiology department at Nihon University in Tokyo, told Agence France Presse.

"Serious periodontal disease could lead to the development (of AIDS) among HIV-positive people ... although the probability largely depends on individual physical strength," Ochiai said.

Previous studies have linked gum disease to heart disease and diabetes, but this is the first to find that gum disease activates HIV, Ochiai told AFP.

The study is scheduled to appear in the March issue of the Journal of Immunology.

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Exercise May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to U.S. researchers who reviewed 52 studies and concluded that the most active people are 24 percent less likely than the least active to develop the disease.

The studies included in the review included many different types of physical activity, ranging from going to the gym and running to doing manual labor, BBC News reported.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

"These results give us a very reliable calculation of the positive effect that exercise can have on reducing colon cancer risk," said lead researcher Dr. Kathleen Wolin, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, BBC News reported.

"It's very positive to see that exercise has such a clear benefit in reducing cancer risk and we hope it will encourage people to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle as well as treating it as a way to minimize their colon cancer risk," Wolin added.

Posted: February 2009


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