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Health Highlights: April 7, 2011

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

Triad Antiseptic Products Seized: FDA

Concerns about possible contamination led to the seizure of more than $6 million worth of antiseptic products made by Triad Group and H&P Industries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

The items confiscated from Triad's facility in Hartland, Wis. included cough and cold products, antiseptic creams, suppositories, nasal sprays, antifungal creams, medicated wipes and raw materials, the Associated Press reported.

The products were used in medical facilities across the United States and sold under a variety of product names at a number of chain stores. Various kinds of bacterial contamination in the products have prompted three recalls since December.

The FDA said the action comes after the "continued failure" of Triad Group and H&P Industries to comply with good manufacturing practice regulations. The companies are owned and managed by the same parties, the AP reported.


Genetic Change Increases Risk of Lung Cancer Spread: Study

Scientists have identified a genetic change that increases the risk that lung cancer will spread to other parts of the body, a finding that could lead to improved treatments.

The U.S. team found that reduced activity of a gene called NKX2-1 was associated with higher lung cancer death rates. The discovery was made in mice but confirmed in human lung tumor samples, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Nature.

"Lung cancer is a huge problem worldwide, and understanding why some lung cancers are more likely to spread is vital for developing better, more personalized treatments," Neil Barrie, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, told BBC News. "Research like this is helping to unravel the genetic 'signatures' of different cancers, and will spark ideas for new ways to tackle the disease," he added.


Many Believe They Still Drive Well When Distracted: Poll

Many American drivers who've nearly had an accident because they were distracted while driving say they will continue the same distracting behavior while they're behind the wheel, finds an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons-Harris Interactive Survey released Wednesday.

The poll of more than 1,500 driving-age adults also found that they know distractions such as talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, or reaching in the back seat of the car while driving interfere with other people's ability to drive safely, but 20 percent believe they are good enough drivers that they can do these things without compromising their own driving ability.

Among the participants who reported distracted driving behaviors, those ages 30-44 seem to be the worst offenders, according to the survey.

Among the other findings:

  • Ninety-four percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a problem in the U.S. and 89 percent believe it is a problem in their communities.
  • None of the respondents believed their own driving is unsafe and 83 percent said they're safe drivers. However, they believe that only 10 percent of other people on the roads are safe drivers.

The survey was released to mark the launch of a national anti-distracted driving campaign by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association.


Medical Emergencies From 'Synthetic' Illicit Drugs Increasing

So far this year, at least 2,700 people in the United States have become ill after using synthetic substances that mimic illegal drugs, according to an Associated Press investigation.

There were fewer than 3,200 such cases in the U.S. over the whole of 2010. If the current trend continues, the synthetic drugs could cause nearly five times more medical emergencies this year. The figures were provided by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

The products -- which are packaged as bath salts or incense and sell for as little as $10 -- are suspected in at least nine deaths in the U.S. since last year, the AP reported.

Health problems caused by the synthetic drugs include breathing problems, rapid heartbeat, delusions and paranoia.

"Many of the users describe extreme paranoia," Dr. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, told the AP. "The recurring theme is monsters, demons and aliens. A lot of them had suicidal thoughts."


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Posted: April 2011