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Health Highlights: March 23, 2009

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

J&J Baby Products Safe: Chinese Officials

Cancer-causing agents were not used as additives in Johnson & Johnson baby products, China's State Food and Drug Administration announced on its Web site.

The officials launched an investigation after a U.S. activist group said dozens of the products contained formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, the Associated Press reported. The products were also declared safe by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Last week, the report by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics prompted Shanghai-based Nonggongshan Supermarkets Corp. to pull J&J's baby products from its 3,500 stores in China. The supermarket chain resumed sales of the products after they were cleared by government officials.

J&J denies the allegations by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of nonprofit organizations. The company says all its products are in compliance with safety laws in the countries were they're sold, the AP reported.


Vitamin D Levels Affect Narcotic Pain Drug Use

There's a link between low levels of vitamin D and the amount of narcotic pain drugs taken by patients with chronic pain, says a Mayo Clinic study of 267 patients.

Patients with inadequate levels of vitamin D took nearly two times higher doses of narcotic medications than those with adequate levels of the vitamin, United Press International reported.

In addition, patients with lower levels of vitamin D had worse physical functioning and worse overall health perception, said the study, published in the journal Pain Medicine.

"This is an important finding as we continue to investigate the causes of chronic pain," lead author Dr. Michael Turner said in a news release, UPI reported. "Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength. Conversely, deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning. By recognizing it, physicians can significantly improve their patients' pain, function and quality of life."


Prostate Removal Improves Survival: Study

Prostate removal improves prostate cancer survival better than watchful waiting, say Swedish researchers.

They found that radical prostatectomy reduces the risk of prostate cancer death and the risk of cancer spread, UPI reported.

The study was presented at the annual European Association of Urology Congress, in Stockholm.

"One of the most striking results of this study was the fact that, in a follow-up of side effects, symptoms and quality of life within the randomized study, the symptom profile was different in the two randomization groups, but the overall rating of quality of life was similar," researcher Lars Holmberg said in a news release, UPI reported.

"This may mean that the side effects of radical prostatectomy wear off, people get used to it perhaps," Holmberg said.

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Posted: March 2009