HEALTH

Study finds stress, economy trigger digestive problems

BY Michael Johnsen

MORRISTOWN, N.J. According to a recent Yankelovich survey released by Bayer Consumer Healthcare Wednesday, travel worries and the economy are triggering more concerns over stomach problems.

Close to half of all Americans at some time have had or worried about having stomach problems while on vacation, the survey revealed, and a majority of Americans have experienced increased stress because of the current state of the economy. Nearly 40% of those Americans report they now eat more comfort food, more snacks and more fast food due to their increased stress levels.

Taking a probiotic can help to eliminate that worry, Bayer noted, as probiotics have been shown to help address travel related issues like traveler’s diarrhea.

“Stress and poor diet are triggers that could potentially cause digestive problems,” stated Anish Sheth, assistant professor of medicine, Yale University School of Medicine. “Probiotics can be especially helpful when the digestive system is under stress from all sorts of issues ranging from occasional diarrhea or constipation.”

The survey also revealed that 1-in-4 Americans at some time have made up an excuse for why they’re going to the bathroom in the first place. Men in this group were just as likely to make up an excuse as women.

“Making excuses for bathroom habits could be a sign that something else is going on,” Sheth said. “Millions of Americans experience digestive problems, but few know that the key to digestive health is maintaining a balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the colon, a vital part of the digestive system. But there are things consumers can do such as taking a probiotic to address digestive symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating, as well as overall colon health.”

Additional findings included:

  • 10% of those surveyed spend 60 minutes or more in the bathroom a day;
  • Women are only slightly more likely to make excuses for why they are going to the bathroom than men (26% for women compared with 24% for men);
  • Women are more stressed because of the economy than men (60% of women versus 51% of men);
  • And economic stress had a bigger impact on the eating habits of younger Americans than older Americans (61% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 say they eat more comfort food, more snacks and more fast food compared with 29% of Americans ages 55 to 64).

The survey was conducted by Yankelovich, a part of the Futures Company, on behalf of Phillips’ Colon Health Probiotic Supplement. Survey results were obtained through online interviews among a representative sample of 1,042 adults 18 and older.

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Alcon to extend eye drop product lines

BY Michael Johnsen

HUENENBERG, Switzerland Alcon recently announced that it is releasing two new line extensions this summer across its Systane Lubricant Eye Drops product line.

The product expansions include a dry eye drop for contact lens wearers and a preservative-free, single unit dose product.

Systane Contacts Lubricating Eye Drops, the new moisturizing drop for contact lens wearers, will be shipped in May and is designed to keep eyes comfortable while wearing contacts. 

Systane Ultra Preservative Free Vials will launch in August, the company reported. The dry-eye therapy provides extended protection to the ocular surface and increased comfort from the symptoms of dry eye.

“There are over 60 million Americans who suffer from dry eye, and we know they all have different needs,” stated Elyse Dickerson, product manager for Systane. “Expanding our product offering gives consumers more choices for effectively relieving their symptoms with a product designed for their specific needs.”

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CDC calls H1N1 virus ‘homogeneous,’ anticipates vaccine development

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday that scientists have determined that the various strains of novel H1N1 virus around the world are homogeneous — a factor that makes the development of a vaccine much easier.

“From our analysis, we have confirmed that the novel H1N1 virus likely originated from pigs, based on data that each of the genetic components of this virus are most closely related to corresponding influenza virus genes identified from swine influenza viruses,” commented Nancy Cox, director of the CDC’s influenza division, during a press call on Friday.

Referencing an article published Friday in the journal Science, Cox noted that the new H1N1 viruses are antigenically similar to each other. That is, they react to antibodies in a similar way. They’re rather homogeneous,” she said. “This makes our job of coming up with a reference candidate vaccine virus much, much easier. We see much less variation among these new H1N1 viruses than we do for typical, seasonal influenza viruses.”

Currently, the CDC is working on two vaccines for H1N1. One candidate vaccine virus was created by combining the genes of the novel H1N1 virus that are responsible for eliciting protection to influenza with other parts from other viruses that are needed for high growth in eggs. “That process is called reassortment,” commented Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s national center for immunization and respiratory diseases. Also, the CDC and the Federal Drug Administration have created a candidate virus using reverse genetics.

“Here at CDC, we’re performing analysis of the egg-derived and reverse genetics-derived candidate vaccine viruses to make sure that they are able to stimulate optimal immune responses, or that their ability to do that remains intact,” Schuchat said. “And after that work is done, suitable viruses will be sent out to manufacturers. We expect by the end of May that will happen so that they can begin work on developing candidate vaccine seed for production of pilot loss of vaccine.”

As of Monday at 11 a.m., there were 6,764 confirmed cases of H1N1 across 48 states, including 10 deaths. Schuchat estimated on Friday that there may be more than 100,000 active cases in the United States currently.

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