HEALTH

Google tracks flu trends through requests via search engine

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Google has found a way to track the spread of the flu by taking note of users who type phrases related to the flu into its search engine and reporting them through a new service called Google Flu Trends.

This may enable local outbreaks to be detected before health officials detect them, tests of the site have shown.

According to The New York Times, searches for flu-related information on Google increased in mid-Atlantic U.S. states increased two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in the incidence of flu in those states.

 

 

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NPA challenges findings on vitamins C, E and cardio health

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON In response to new findings to be published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association on whether long-term vitamin E or vitamin C supplementation decreases the risk of major cardiovascular events among men, the Natural Products Association Monday evening challenged the findings.

“On the second page of the study, it references nine pooled studies that when using 700 milligrams per day of vitamin C showed a 25-percent reduction in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease; yet this study only used 500 milligrams per day. Why wasn’t the 700 milligrams per day amount used when that has been correlated with a reduction in occurrence in prior studies?” asked Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at NPA.

“Additionally, while the study did control for multivitamin intake to prevent overlap, intake of vitamin C and E from food was not controlled. With a population of health care professionals at an increased risk for CVD, these subjects most likely know the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and thus rich in vitamins C and E, and may adjust their intake accordingly. This would most certainly confound the study,” he said. “It is essentially a drug study but one without a positive control, which is necessary to ensure the experimental design can produce a positive result even if the intervention was unable to.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition was less critical. “Although the results did not demonstrate an overall benefit, the results also do not discount the earlier epidemiological data showing that people with high intakes of vitamins E and C may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease,” stated Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN. “Nutrition research is extremely complex, and doesn’t always provide clear cut answers. This study raises an interesting set of scientific challenges as to why the benefits found in observational studies have not been confirmed in this kind of trial,” he said. “The truth is, we don’t have conclusive scientific evidence in the form of randomized, controlled trials that demonstrate exactly how to prevent cardiovascular disease. We do know there are some well known practical approaches—like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a diet with a variety of foods, regular exercise, seeing your physician, and responsible use of vitamin supplements.”

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J&J recalls lots of Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Dye Free

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Company Monday evening voluntarily recalled approximately 12,000 units of Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Dye Free (simethicone-antigas) non-staining sold in 1-ounce plastic bottles that were distributed after Oct. 5 because some of the bottles could include metal fragments that were generated during the manufacturing process.

Although the potential for serious medical events is low, the company is implementing this recall to the consumer level as a precaution. If any medical events were to occur, most are expected to be temporary and resolve without medical treatment. Parents who have given the product to their infant and are concerned should contact their health care provider immediately.

The company is taking this action in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, J&J reported.

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