Health Highlights: Feb. 17, 2012

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

Heart Attack Grill Owner Defends Artery-Clogging Menu

The owner of the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas is defending his artery-clogging menu after a customer suffered an apparent heart attack while devouring a 6,000-calorie Triple Bypass burger.

Speaking on "Fox and Friends" Friday morning, Jon Basso described his restaurant as "a place where you can live the way our Founding Fathers intended us to live, and that is by our own accord," FoxNews.com reported.

The restaurant features health warnings on the walls and staff are dressed in white coats and nurses hats to represent doctors and nurses. When patrons choose menu items such as a Bypass burger, Flatliner fries and buttermilk shakes, they're given surgical gowns to wear.

After a customer suffered an apparent heart attack on Saturday, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sent a letter to Basso asking him to "declare moral bankruptcy" and close the Heart Attack Grill, FoxNews.com reported.

Basso has no plans to close the restaurant and lashed out against critics.

"There are intrusive busy-body groups that want to take away our right to have a simple hamburger, a coke, some fries and enjoy our lives the way we want to," he said.

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Grape-Flavored Infant Tylenol Recalled

Grape-flavored versions of infant Tylenol are being pulled from U.S. store shelves due to problems with a device that helps measure doses, says the McNeal Consumer Healthcare unit of Johnson & Johnson.

The 574,000 recalled bottles of the liquid medicine come with syringe and have a protective cover, or flow restrictor, at the top to help users measure the correct dose, the Associated Press reported.

In some cases, the restrictor can be pushed into the bottle when the syringe is inserted, the company said.

McNeil has issued about two dozen recall in more than two years, the AP reported.

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FDA Panel to Consider New Diet Pill

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will meet next week to discuss whether to recommend approval of a diet pill called Qnexa.

The drug is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, the stimulant phentermine and the anticonvulsant topiramate. In 2010, the FDA rejected Qnexa due to concerns about the risks of birth defects and cardiovascular problems, The New York Times reported.

However, many obesity doctors use a regulatory loophole to prescribe phentermine and topiramate off-label in order to suppress appetite in overweight patients.

Qnexa was developed by the company Vivus, which will present additional data at the FDA's advisory panel meeting on Wednesday. The FDA will have until April 17 to consider the panel's recommendation and make a decision about the drug, The Times reported.

It's been 13 years since a new prescription diet pill was approved by the FDA.

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Powered Toothbrush Could Cause Choking, Serious Injuries: FDA

Problems with the brush head on all models of Arm & Hammer Spinbrush powered toothbrushes have caused choking and serious injuries, according to reports received by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While turned on, the device's brush head has either "popped off" or broken off in the user's mouth or near the face, causing cuts to the mouth and gums, chipped or broken teeth, swallowing and choking on the broken pieces, and injuries to the face and eyes.

Until 2009, the Spinbrush line was sold as the Crest Spinbrush, the FDA said.

The agency advised consumers to inspect the Spinbrush for any damage or loose brush bristles prior to using. Do not use the brush if there is any damage or loose brush bristles.

Make sure the headpiece is connected properly to the handle of the brush and test the brush outside of the mouth before use. Do not use the brush if the connection between the headpiece and the handle feels loose or if the headpiece easily detaches from the handle.

Do not bite down on the brush while brushing. Supervise children and adults who need assistance when using the Spinbrush, the FDA said.

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Include Cancer in WTC Compensation Program: Advisory Panel

An assistance program for people sickened by dust from the World Trade Center should include at least some people with cancer, a federal advisory panel says.

Billions of dollars have been earmarked to compensate and treat people with illnesses potentially linked to the twin towers collapse on 9/11. However, the program doesn't include people with cancer because it hasn't been conclusively linked to the dust and smoke released by the destruction of the WTC, the Associated Press reported.

While the members of the advisory panel agreed Thursday that some cancer patients should be covered by the program, they weren't sure if it should include all or just certain types of cancer.

The committee's recommendation, due by March 2, can either be accepted or rejected by the assistance program's administrator, the AP reported.

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No More King-Sized Bars, Mars Inc. Announces

Mars Inc. says it will stop selling chocolate products that have more than 250 calories per portion, a decision that will see the end of king-sized candy bars.

The company -- which makes brands such as Snickers, Mars, Milky Way, M&Ms, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Dove and Galaxy -- says the move is part of a health and nutrition effort, the Chicago Tribune reported.

A king-size Snickers bar has 510 calories, while a regular-size Snickers currently has 280 calories.

By 2015, Mars plans to reduce sodium levels in all its food products by 25 percent from 2007 levels. In 2007, the company promised to no longer market chocolate products directly to children under 12. Other efforts include placing calorie counts on the front of packages, reducing saturated fat, and eliminating trans fat, the Tribune reported.

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Posted: February 2012


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