HEALTH

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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Report finds influenza incidence rates lower among those immunized last year

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. According to a report prepared in October by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, those individuals who received their flu shots last year may be better protected against the novel H1N1 influenza virus as compared with those who did not get inoculated.

The study was presented Thursday at the 58th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Washington.

By the beginning of 2009, influenza-like illness and pneumonia and influenza incidence rates were lower among immunized service members compared to those unimmunized, the agency stated. The difference in these rates increased greatly after week 20, corresponding to the emergence of the novel H1N1 virus.

According to published reports, last year’s seasonal flu vaccine made it 62% less likely that a service-member would be hospitalized because of H1N1 virus this year; and 42% less likely to have consulted a doctor for an ILI or P&I.

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Save Flexible Spending Plans lobbying FSA reform

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A lobbying group representing employers and insurance companies on Thursday issued a statement criticizing the Senate healthcare-reform bill for including a provision that would discontinue coverage of over-the-counter medicines through flexible spending accounts.

“It is disappointing that the Senate is determined to fund healthcare reform by restricting access to flexible spending accounts, a valuable benefit relied upon by more than 35 million Americans to help hold down healthcare costs,” stated Joe Jackson, chairman of Save Flexible Spending Plans and CEO of benefits provider WageWorks. “Severely curtailing the use of FSAs will not only force participants to pay more in healthcare costs, it flies in the face of President [Barack] Obama’s pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class.”

According to the group, most FSA participants are middle income, earning approximately $55,000 annually. Individuals and families with chronic illnesses typically receive the most benefit from FSAs, incurring annual out-of-pocket expenses averaging $4,398 per year, the group claimed, citing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. Approximately 44% of Americans have one or more chronic conditions, SFSP stated.

SFSP is lobbying for more than just reinstatement of OTCs as part of FSAs, the group is also calling for an increase of the $2,500 cap on FSA contributions. “Failing to adjust the cap for inflation will cause the value of a $2,500 FSA to plummet to less than half that amount within a decade,” the association stated.

Save Flexible Spending Plans is a national grassroots advocacy organization that protects against the restricted use of flexible spending accounts in healthcare reform efforts. The campaign is sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation a nonprofit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis.

The organization has two driving missions — first to represent and promote flexible compensation programs through effective lobbying, and second to provide information on flexible compensation programs to national opinion leaders and the general public.

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