HEALTH

Study suggests daily aspirin supplement may reduce risk of breast cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

LONDON A study published Thursday in the journal Breast Cancer Research suggested that a daily aspirin regimen may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, though there were no similar associations in other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Breast cancer risk was not significantly associated with NSAID use, but daily aspirin use was associated with a modest reduction in [estrogen-receptor positive] breast cancer,” the authors concluded. “Our results provide support for further evaluating relationships by NSAID type and breast cancer subtype.”

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HEALTH

FDA finds dangerous levels of chromium in certain flavors of Total Body products

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration reported Thursday that its final analysis of certain flavors of “Total Body Formula” and “Total Body Mega Formula” has detected hazardous amounts of chromium.

On April 9, the FDA reported the dietary supplement products contained hazardous amounts of selenium in samples of “Total Body Formula” in Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar flavors and “Total Body Mega Formula” in the Orange/Tangerine flavor. Further FDA analysis of the products found high levels of chromium as well. The samples contained up to 3,426 micrograms of chromium for the recommended serving (17 times the recommended intake). The recommended chromium intake for an adult ranges from 35 to 45 micrograms per day.

Excessive consumption of chromium can cause fatigue, muscle cramps, hyperactivity, hypoglycemia, renal failure and liver toxicity. Excessive chromium intake also can interfere with certain medications.

The new FDA finding comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of confirmed cases of adverse reactions in consumers using the products has climbed to at least 201 individuals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Consumers were first cautioned March 27, 2008 not to purchase and to discontinue the use of “Total Body Formula” in Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar flavors and “Total Body Mega Formula” in the Orange/Tangerine flavor after receiving reports of adverse reactions.

The FDA is continuing to investigate how excessive amounts of selenium and chromium got into the products.

The sole distributor of the “Total Body Formula” and “Total Body Mega Formula” products has voluntarily recalled the affected products.

Consumers who have been taking the products and have experienced adverse reactions should consult their health care professional. Consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch program at 1-800-FDA-1088 or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/how.htm.

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AHIP census shows HSA subscribers up 35 percent on last year

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON More than 6.1 million Americans are covered by Health Savings Account-eligible insurance plans, a 35 percent increase since last year, a new census released Wednesday by America’s Health Insurance Plans found.

“Employers and individuals across the country and across the age spectrum are choosing HSA plans, which are now an important part of the portfolio of coverage options offered by health plans,” statetd Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of AHIP.

There was an increase of approximately 1.6 million Americans enrolled in an HSA plan since January 2007. Previous censuses found that 4.5 million were enrolled in January 2007, 3.2 million were enrolled in January 2006, and 1 million were enrolled in March 2005.

And HSA plan enrollment as a percentage of individuals with private coverage is estimated to be the highest in Minnesota (9.2 percent), Louisiana (9 percent), Washington, D.C. (8.7 percent), Vermont (7.5 percent) and Colorado (7.1 percent), the report found.

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