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Health Highlights: June 15, 2012

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

Halt Sales of Shellfish From Korea: FDA

The sale of all fresh, frozen, canned and processed oysters, clams, mussels and whole and roe-on scallops from Korea must be halted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The FDA said all these molluscan shellfish products and any products made with them may have been exposed to human feces and could be contaminated with norovirus, which can cause gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Dehydration is a common problem for people with gastroenteritis.

Following initial notifications issued last month by the FDA, a number of food companies have started to remove these products from their distribution chain, but many others have yet to take action.

Consumers who recently bought molluscan shellfish should check the labeling to see if it came from Korea. If the label does not make it clear where the product is from, consumers should contact the store where it was purchased or call the manufacturer to find out, the FDA said.


Americans' Stress Levels Have Risen Since Early 1980s: Study

A new study confirms what many Americans feel -- that there's more stress in their lives today than 25 years ago.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 6,300 people and concluded that stress increased 24 percent for men and 18 percent for women from 1983 to 2009, USA Today reported.

The analysis of data from surveys in 1983, 2006 and 2009 also revealed that women and people with lower incomes and less education have higher levels of stress, and that stress tends to decrease with age.

"Thirty-year-olds have less stress than 20-year-olds, and 40-year-olds have less stress than 30-year-olds," study lead author and psychologist Sheldon Cohen, director of the Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, told USA Today.

The study was published online in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.


Internet Behind Explosion of Fake Drug Sales: Expert

The Internet is responsible for the huge increase in the number of counterfeit drugs sold around the world, according to an expert.

The global trade in fake medicines in believed to be worth about $75 billion and criminal gangs are increasingly using the Web to move such products across borders, Scott Davis, drug maker Pfizer's top security expert for Asia, said at a health forum in the Philippines, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The Internet has led to an explosion of availability of these products," Davis told an audience Thursday. "About 90 percent of counterfeit drugs ... are at some point marketed and sold on the Internet."

He said Web sites that sell fake drugs often don't have physical addresses and exploit weak or unclear customs rules to ship their products, AFP reported.

China is the biggest source of counterfeit drugs, followed by Jordan, the United States, Israel and Canada, Davis said.


Pure Ecstasy is Safe, Canadian Health Official Says

Pure ecstasy is safe when the drug is consumed by responsible adults, according to the top health official in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The risks of MDMA -- the pure substance synonymous with ecstasy -- are overblown and it only becomes dangerous when it is mixed with other toxic substances, according to Dr. Perry Kendall, the Associated Press reported.

He advocates the legalization and sale of MDMA through licensed, government-run stores.

Kendall's comments come in the wake of police warnings about the dangers of ecstasy after a spate of deaths, the AP reported.


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Posted: June 2012