HEALTH

American Dental Association petitions FDA to classify, regulate tooth-whitening products

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO The American Dental Association asked the Food and Drug Administration to establish appropriate classifications for tooth-whitening chemicals.

Citing concern about the safety of whitening products that are often administered without the benefit of professional consultation or examination by a dentist, the association said that the application of chemically-based tooth whitening or bleaching agents can harm teeth, gums and other tissues in the mouth.

The ADA pointed out that such concerns have prompted many states to prevent application of tooth whitening products in nondental settings.

“The tremendous expansion of products available directly to consumers and application of products in venues such as shopping malls, cruise ships, and salons is troubling since consumers have little or no assurance regarding the safety of product ingredients, doses or the professional qualifications of individuals employed in these non-dental settings,” said ADA pesident Dr. Ron Tankersley and executive director Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, in a letter to the agency.

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CRN challenges folic acid/lung cancer link

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK For all the good that associations like the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association have done in rooting any discussion around supplements in sound science, there always seems to be these somewhat faulty meta-analyses that serve as an undercurrent to that sound science.

 

There have been numerous studies supporting the use of folic acid in the prevention of certain birth defects. There also have been numerous studies establishing a link between smoking and lung cancer. So it’s not necessarily reasonable to draw the conclusion that folic acid may increase lung cancer risk without excluding known lung-cancer risks from that analysis. It may even border on irresponsible, in effect scaring mongering consumers away from a supplement that may, in fact, be a benefit.

 

Make no mistake, the people at CRN and NPA are very much into vetting the supplement industry as a responsible group interested in marketing products that improve America’s health through science. Both groups actively have worked toward implementing supplement-specific Good Manufacturing Practices and including supplements, along with over-the-counter medicines, in the FDA mandate on serious adverse event reports.

So it would be reasonable to conclude, that if there were a possible scientifically proven link between any dietary supplement and an increased health risk, groups like CRN and NPA would support appropriate actions to curb those risks.

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CDC reports decrease in flu activity

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Although 43 states have reported widespread influenza activity for the week ended Nov. 14, numbers appear to be dropping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted Friday.

In its weekly situational update, the CDC reported that the number of states reporting widespread activity of the H1N1 virus dropped to 43 from 46 in the past week. Additionally, influenza-like illnesses nationally decreased again to 5.5%. This is the third consecutive week of national decreases after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases.

On a regional level, the percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses ranged from 2.6% to 7.9% during week 45, and decreased in all 10 surveillance regions, compared with the previous week. All 10 regions, however, reported a proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses above their region-specific baseline levels (2.3%).

“Influenza is unpredictable, and it is so early in the year to have this much disease. We don’t know if these declines will persist, what the slope will be, whether we’ll have a long decline or it will start to go up again,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of cases that feature a mutated version of the virus, which apparently is resistant to antiviral Tamiflu, making the disease much more severe. Schuchat, however, said the mutation is no reason for alarm.

“I don’t think it has the public health implications that we would wonder about,” she said, noting that some patients have gotten severely ill, including developing pneumonia, after being infected with strains of the virus without the mutation.

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