Health Highlights: March 30, 201103/29/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Low Health Literacy Linked to Poorer Health: Report
Older Americans with low health literacy are more likely to have
poor health and to have a higher risk of death, says a federal
government report. Health literacy refers to the ability to
understand and use basic health information.
The analysis of findings from more than 100 studies conducted in
recent years also revealed that more than 75 million
English-speaking adults in the United States have limited health
literacy, and that there's an association between low health
literacy in adults of all ages and more frequent use of hospital
emergency rooms and inpatient care, according to the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality.
Among the other findings:
- Low health literacy is associated with a lower likelihood of
getting flu shots and understanding medical labels and
instructions, and an increased risk of taking medicines
- Poor health literacy among women is linked with underuse of
- Differences in health literacy levels are related to ethnic and
racial disparities in health care.
"Ensuring that people understand health care information is critical to a high-quality, safe health care system," AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, said in an agency news release. "Improving health literacy will be a major step in the nations efforts to enhance health care quality and safety."
Disease Clusters Require More Research: Report
Since 1976, there have been at least 42 disease clusters in 13
U.S. states and more research is needed to learn more about the
causes of these health problems, says a report released Monday by
"Communities all around the country struggle with unexplained epidemics of cancers, birth defects and neurological diseases," said report co-author Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Resources Defense Council, USA Today reported. "The faster we can identify such
clusters, and the sooner we can figure out the causes, the better
we can protect residents living in the affected communities."
In their report, Solomon and her colleagues said the Toxic
Substance Control Act of 1976 does not do enough to regulate toxic
chemicals in industrial, commercial and consumer products.
An oversight hearing on the matter is scheduled to be held
Tuesday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In
January, Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho,
proposed legislation to fund research to examine whether there's a
connection between environmental contaminants and clusters of
health problems such as birth defects and cancer,
USA Today reported.
High Lead Levels Found in Philly Chinatown Ceramics
Ceramic cooking and eating utensils sold in Philadelphia's
Chinatown contain high levels of lead and the problem likely exits
in other Chinatowns across the United States, say researchers.
They analyzed 87 ceramic pieces purchased from stores in
Philadelphia's Chinatown and nearby neighborhoods and found that
more than a quarter of them tested positive for lead,
The New York Times reported.
Further testing revealed that three plates and two spoons
released lead in quantities far above limits set by the Food and
"What we've demonstrated is that there's a problems in Philadelphia's Chinatown," Dr. Gerald F. O'Malley of Jefferson Medical College, told The Times. "We've conclusively shown that. If it's happening in Philadelphia, it's happening in other Chinatowns in other cities."
It's not known where the ceramics were made or the extent of
their distribution. The researchers have sent their findings to the
Radiation Detected in Massachusetts Rainwater
Small amounts of radiation have been detected in a sample of
rainwater in Massachusetts, say state public health officials.
The very low concentrations of radioactive iodine in the
rainwater likely originated in Japan but should have no impact on
state drinking water supplies, Public Health Commissioner John
Auerbach told the
Boston Globe, according to
United Press International.
"The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation. However, we will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution," Auerbach said.
No increase in radiation levels in the air has been detected, he
Globe reported that Auerbach said similar levels of radiation
in rainwater samples have been found in a number of other states,
Mislabeled Citalopram and Finasteride Recalled
Certain batches of citalopram and finasteride are being recalled
in the United States because they may have been incorrectly labeled
by a third-party manufacturer, says Pfizer Inc.'s Greenstone LLC
Citalopram is an antidepressant and finasteride is used to treat
benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). Some bottles of
citalopram may be labeled as finasteride and vice versa, according
to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The voluntary recall includes citalopram 10 mg tablets
(100-count bottle) and finasteride 5 mg tablets (90-count bottle)
with lot number FI0510058-A on the label.
Consumers with these products should return them and patients
who believe they may have taken the wrong medication should contact
a doctor as soon as possible, the FDA said.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.