Health Highlights: Oct. 3, 201110/03/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New Labels State Alcohol Content of Four Loko Drink
The labels on super-size cans of a malt beverage called Four
Loko will now inform consumers that one can contains as much
alcohol as four to five cans of beer.
Chicago-based Phusion Projects agreed to relabel the 23.5-ounce
cans of Four Loko under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission,
but did not admit any wrongdoing, the
Washington Post reported.
Phusion had misrepresented the amount of alcohol in those cans
as being the equivalent of one to two regular cans of 12-ounce
beers instead of four to five cans, according to the FTC.
In recent years, fruity-tasting, high alcohol malt beverages
have been linked to the deaths of teens in several states.
In late 2010, the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration
warned Phusion and three other companies that the caffeine and
other stimulants added to their malt beverages were dangerous
because they can mask the feeling of intoxication, the
All four companies have removed the stimulants from the products
identified by federal officials.
Velveeta Single-Serve Microwavable Cups Recalled
Three varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese single-serve
microwaveable cups are being recalled because they may contain
small, thin wire bristle pieces, Kraft foods Inc. says.
About 137,000 cases of the affected products, which have
best-when-used-by dates from March 2012 to May 2012, were
distributed in the U.S.,
Dow Jones Newswires reported.
There have been no reports of consumer complaints or injuries,
according to Kraft.
Customers are advised to return the recalled products to the
store of purchase for a full refund or exchange.
Immune System Research Earns Scientists Nobel Prize
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three scientists
whose immune system discoveries could lead to new ways to prevent
and treat infections, cancer and inflammatory disease.
The winners are American Bruce Beutler, French scientist Jules
Hoffman, and Ralph Steinman, a Canadian-born researcher who worked
in the U.S. and died last Friday.
The Nobel committee citation said Beutler and Hoffman received
the award "for their discoveries concerning the activation of
innate immunity," and Steinman was honored for "his discovery of
the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity," the
Associated Press reported.
"Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer and inflammatory disease," according to the citation.
Breast Cancer Drug Coverage Halted by Blue Shield of
The use of Avastin to treat breast cancer will no longer by
covered by Blue Shield of California. It's believed to be the first
large insurer to take such action.
In June, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel
recommended that the agency rescind the drug's approval as a
treatment for breast cancer. The committee said Avastin does not
really help breast cancer patients,
New York Times reported.
The FDA has not made a final decision and many insurers say they
will wait for the agency's verdict before they re-evaluate whether
they'll continue to cover the use of Avastin to treat breast
cancer, which costs about $88,000 a year.
In a note posted on its Web site, Blue Shield of California said
reimbursement would end Oct. 17, but "exceptions may be considered
on a case-by-case basis." The insurer will continue to pay for
breast cancer patients who are already receiving Avastin,
The Times reported.
Even if the FDA revokes Avastin's approval for treating breast
cancer, Medicare has indicated it will continue paying to the
Denmark Slaps Tax on Fatty Foods
Denmark has imposed a "fat tax" that's based on the amount of
saturated fat in a food product.
The measure was approved in March as a way to help boost the
average life expectancy of people in the country, the
Associated Press reported.
The tax will add about 15 cents to the price of a burger and
about 40 cents to a small package of butter, according to a
government official who provided examples of the effect of the
It's believed that Denmark is the first country in the world to
tax fatty foods, the
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