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Health Highlights: July 7, 2009

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

CDC's Internet Tool Combines Data on Pollutants/Health

A Internet-based tool that will enable members of the public, scientists and health professionals to track environmental exposures and chronic health conditions was unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Environmental Public Health Tracking Network offers environmental information from across the nation, including data on water and air pollutants, and details about chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, and childhood lead poisoning.

It's known that exposure to such things as lead and air particle pollution contribute to health problems, but many links between pollutants and illness can't be proven because detailed health and environmental data were kept separate until now, according to the CDC.

"The ability to examine many data sets together for the first time has already resulted in faster responses to environmental health issues. We believe the Tracking Network holds the potential to shed new light on some of our biggest environmental health questions," Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, said in a news release.

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Insomnia Patients May Benefit From Web-Based Therapy

Web-based therapy may be able to help people with insomnia, a small U.S. study suggests.

The study included 22 adults with moderate insomnia who used Internet software designed to change patterns that contribute to sleep problems. For example, the Sleep Healthy Using the Internet (SHUTi) software offers advice about specific bedtimes and teaches patients better sleep habits, such as avoiding daytime naps. No human therapist was involved, the Associated Press reported.

After nine weeks of using SHUTi, the 22 participants woke up fewer times and spent fewer minutes awake during the night, compared to a control group. The findings were published Monday in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

"This is a very interactive, tailored, personalized program," study co-author Frances Thorndike, of the University of Virginia Health System, told the AP. She helped design the software, which could offer a low-cost alternative to face-to-face behavioral therapy.

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Kroger Recalls Popcorn Seasoning, Sprinkles: Report

Kroger popcorn seasoning and butter-flavored sprinkles sold in some of the company's retail stores are being recalled because of possible salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The Cincinnati-based company said the contamination may have been caused by an ingredient produced by a supplier, United Press International reported.

The recall includes:

  • Kroger Popcorn Seasoning Movie Theater Butter Flavored sold in 2.82-ounce jars with a sell-by date of "JUN 08 10."
  • Kroger Fat Free Butter Flavored Sprinkles in 2-ounce jars with sell-by dates of "JUN 08 10" and JUN 09 10" sold at Kroger stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Kroger Popcorn Seasoning White Cheddar Flavored in 2.82-ounce jars with a sell-by date of "JUN 09 10" sold in Kroger stores in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. The product was also sold at Dillons and Gerbes stores in Kansas and Missouri; Baker's stores in Nebraska; and Food 4 Less, Hilander, Jay C, Owen's, Pay Less and Scott's stores in Illinois and Indiana.

For more information, consumers can contact Kroger at 800-632-6900.

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FDA Approves Drug for Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The chemotherapy drug Alimta can be used as a maintenance treatment for advanced cases of non-small cell lung cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of the disease.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said the drug will be used after an initial round of chemotherapy to prevent disease progression, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA's approval of this new use of Alimta was based on a study of 600 patients.

"This drug represents a new approach in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. "Typically, patients whose tumors respond to chemotherapy do not receive further treatment after four-to-six chemotherapy cycles. This study demonstrates an advantage in overall survival in certain patients who received Alimta for maintenance therapy."

Alimta (pemetrexed) was introduced in 2004 and was already approved for use alone or in combination with other chemotherapies to treat two other types of advanced lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, the AP reported.

Posted: July 2009


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