Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2013

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

Sisters' Breast Cancer Lawsuit Settled by Drug Company Eli Lilly

A lawsuit by four sisters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by a drug taken by their mother when she was pregnant has been settled by Eli Lilly and Co.

The Melnick sisters are among a total of 51 women who filed lawsuits against more than a dozen companies that made or marketed a synthetic estrogen called diethylstilbestrol (DES), the Associated Press reported.

DES was prescribed to millions of pregnant women over three decades to prevent problems such as miscarriages and premature births. It was taken off the market in the early 1970s after being linked to rare vaginal cancer in women whose mothers had taken the drug.

Studies later showed that DES did not prevent miscarriages.

The settlement in the Melnick sisters' case, which was the first of the lawsuits to go to trial, was announced Wednesday on the second day of testimony, the AP reported.

The Melnick sisters all developed breast cancer in their 40s. Their lawyer told the jury that the sister's mother did not take DES while pregnant with a fifth daugther and that she has not developed breast cancer.

The four Melnick sisters have also suffered miscarriages, fertility problems and other reproductive troubles long believed to be caused by exposure to DES while in the womb, the AP reported.

The settlement in this case could lead to settlements in other cases, according to Andrew Meyer, a Boston lawyer who's handled numerous medical malpractice cases.

"When one settles a case, they recognize they can lose it," he told the AP. "The reason they can lose it is because there's enough evidence for the plaintiffs to be able to win it."

There have been thousands of lawsuits alleging a connection between DES and vaginal cancer, cervical cancer and fertility problems. Many of those lawsuits were settled, the AP reported.

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Chicken Jerky Dog Treats Recalled

Several popular brands of chicken jerky dog treats are being recalled because they may be contaminated with unapproved antibiotics.

Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats have been recalled by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats have been recalled by Milo's Kitchen, which is owned by Del Monte Corp. NBC News reported.

The voluntary recalls were announced after New York state agriculture officials said they detected trace amounts of residual poultry antibiotics in several lots of each of the brands of the jerky treat products.

Four of the antibiotics detected in the treats are not approved for use in poultry in the U.S., and one is approved for use in poultry in the U.S., but is limited to nearly undetectable levels in the finished product, an official told NBC News.

The antibiotics are approved in China, where most of the treats are made, and in other countries, according to statements released by the companies.

The detection of the antibiotics in the chicken jerky dog treats does "not raise health concerns" and the issue is "highly unlikely" to be related to reports of pet illnesses and deaths linked to jerky treats dating back to 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Device Sucks Food From Stomach, Helps People Lose Weight

A new device that sucks food out of the stomach can help obese people lose weight, according to the inventors of the appliance.

People wait 20 minutes after eating, then use the AspireAssist to empty 30 percent of their stomach contents into the toilet through a tube attached to a port implanted on the outside of the abdomen, ABC News reported.

Removing the food prevents absorption of calories, which leads to weight loss, according to the inventors. A one-year trial of 24 obese people found that they lost an average of 49 percent of their excess weight (about 45 pounds) when using the device.

AspireAssist has been available in some parts of Europe since 2011. It's currently undergoing trials in the United States but has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ABC News reported.

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Posted: January 2013


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