Recall: FDA Sees Trace Asbestos in J&J Baby Powder

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter
TUESDAY, Nov. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many people think of their brain as an overstuffed attic. Every square-inch is either crammed with information or working overtime to help the body function properly. So is it even conceivable that a person be normal with just half a brain?Yes, apparently it is, according to a new analysis that assessed brain health among six adults who had undergone a hemispherectomy as children. The highly invasive surgery, which entails removal or severing of half the brain, had been part of a pediatric epilepsy treatment to reduce seizure risk.

“The people with hemispherectomies that we studied were remarkably high-functioning,” study author Dorit Kliemann said in a statement. “They have intact language skills. When I put them in the [brain] scanner, we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned,” she explained.

“You can almost forget their condition when you meet them for the first time,” added Kliemann, who is a post-doctoral scholar in cognitive neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena.

Kliemann and her team noted that the six patients in the study had all struggled with relentless epileptic seizures from a very early age, with one patient initially struck by seizures just minutes after birth.

Hemispherectomies are typically performed as a means to bring such “intractable” epilepsy under control, the team explained. The aim is to isolate whichever half (or hemisphere) of the brain is affected by the disease. That can mean either actual removal of the problematic half of the brain or a cutting off of all physical connections between the two halves.

All of the patients had undergone full removal of half their brain. The youngest patient was just 3 months old at the time of surgery, while the oldest had been 11. Four involved excision of the right side of the brain, while two had the left side removed.

Now in their 20s and 30s, the six patients agreed to undergo functional MRI brain scans while awake at the Caltech Brain Imaging Center.

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Brain activity was tracked in areas tasked with regulating vision, movement, emotion and thought processes.Results were then stacked up against those of six healthy adults who also underwent scans, and with data previously collected on nearly 1,500 healthy adults (average age of 22).

Because brain networks devoted to a single regulatory function often span both hemispheres of the brain, the team expected to see weaker neural activity among the hemispherectomy patients. That was not the case.

In fact, scans revealed normal in-network communication and activity function. And communication running between different regulatory networks was actually found to be stronger than normal among hemispherectomy patients.

The findings were published online Nov. 19 in the journal Cell Reports.

Dr. Joseph Sirven, a professor of neurology with the Mayo Clinic in Florida and editor-in-chief of Epilepsy.com, said the findings did not strike him as entirely surprising. He said he often sees patients functioning at a very high level post-hemispherectomy.

“But what surprises me is the degree of compensation that was noted,” added Sirven, who was not part of the study team.

“And if we could figure out the way that the brain compensates in this dramatic setting, and harness this compensatory mechanism for patients affected by stroke, traumatic brain injury or other conditions, that would be a very big deal,” Sirven noted.

That thought was echoed by Kliemann. “As remarkable as it is that there are individuals who can live with half a brain, sometimes a very small brain lesion — like a stroke or a traumatic brain injury or a tumor — can have devastating effects,” she noted.

That is why it’s so important to get a better understanding of exactly how the brains of hemispherectomy patients managed to reorganize and compensate for the loss of half a brain, Kliemann said. Because doing so could eventually lead to new “targeted intervention strategies” to help other types of patients struggling with the debilitating effects of a variety of brain injuries, she theorized.

Caltech’s Brain Imaging Center supplied this video showing MRI scans of the brain of one patient who underwent hemispherectomy. Scan “slices” from the top to the bottom of the brain are shown:

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SOURCES: Joseph Sirven, M.D., professor, neurology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla., editor-in-chief, Epilepsy.com and former vice chair, epilepsy section, American Academy of Neurology; Nov. 19, 2019,Cell Reports, online

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Curewell Pharmacy & Surgicals Elmont NY

geralt / Pixabay

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many Americans believe they are likely to develop dementia — and they often turn to unproven ways to try to better their odds, a new study suggests.In a survey, researchers found that almost half of Americans in their 50s and 60s believed they were at least “somewhat likely” to develop dementia. Yet few — 5% — said they had talked to their doctor about ways to lower their risk.Instead, one-third or more were taking fish oil, vitamin E or other supplements to help ward off memory decline — even though none have been proven to have such benefits.”It certainly seems like people believe that supplements or fish oil help preserve their memory,” said lead researcher Dr. Donovan Maust, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.Maust said that might reflect “excitement” over initial research suggesting that certain supplements might ward off memory decline — excitement that wasn’t tempered when later studies failed to show benefits.

The findings, published online Nov. 15 in JAMA Neurology, are based on 1,019 adults aged 50 to 64 who were surveyed in 2018. They were asked whether they thought they were “somewhat likely,” “very likely” or “unlikely” to develop dementia in their lifetime.

Overall, 44% believed they were somewhat likely, while 4% chose the “very likely” option.

How accurate were they? It’s hard to say, since the terms are vague, according to Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.

But, he added, it would be reasonable for anyone to see themselves as somewhat likely to develop dementia: Around 10% of Americans aged 65 and older have dementia; the rate soars to roughly one-third among people aged 85 and up.

Fargo, who was not involved in the study, said that more can be gleaned by looking at the responses of different groups of participants.

For example, black Americans were much more likely than whites to see themselves as unlikely to develop dementia: 63% endorsed that belief, versus 49% of white respondents.

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In reality, black Americans have a higher rate of dementia.Maust made the same point. “It’s striking,” he said, “that African American respondents thought their odds of developing dementia were half of non-Hispanic white respondents — when in fact their risk is more than twice as high.”Fargo called that finding an “unfortunate surprise,” and said it points to a gap in public education efforts.Respondents were also asked whether they were taking any of several measures to “maintain or improve” their memory. About one-third said they were using fish oil, while 40% said they were taking vitamins or other supplements. Over half said they did crossword puzzles.None of those strategies are proven. Fargo did, however, note that crossword lovers might be the kind of people who maintain a generally “cognitively stimulating” life — and there is evidence to support benefits from doing so.

It’s thought that people with more education, or who engage in lifelong learning, may have more “cognitive reserve,” Fargo explained. The theory is, those people can withstand more of the brain damage that marks dementia before developing symptoms.

Studies are ongoing to figure out the best strategies for slowing or preventing dementia. Fargo said the Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring a trial, called U.S. Pointer, that is testing a combination of tactics — including diet, exercise, and mental and social stimulation.

For now, Maust said the best bet is to take care of your overall health and control any chronic medical conditions — especially those that affect the heart and blood vessels, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Studies have long noted a connection between heart health and dementia, and a recent clinical trial showed that tight control of high blood pressure curbed older adults’ risk of mild cognitive impairment.

“I think people may not appreciate the extent to which risk of dementia can be reduced by addressing chronic medical conditions,” Maust said.

If you believe your memory or thinking skills are deteriorating, Fargo advised seeing your doctor.

“In some cases,” he said, “there may be a treatable underlying cause, like sleep apnea, vitamin-B12 deficiency or depression.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., associate professor/associate director, geriatric psychiatry program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director, scientific programs and outreach, Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago; Nov. 15, 2019,JAMA Neurology, online

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FRIDAY, Nov. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Mass shootings, health care and the 2020 presidential election are significant causes of stress for American adults, a new survey finds.

The poll of more than 3,600 U.S. adults found that 71% of them said mass shootings are a major source of stress, an increase from 62% in 2018. Hispanics were most likely to say mass shootings are a significant source of stress (84%), followed by blacks (79%), Asians (77%), Native Americans (71%) and whites (66%).

Health care is a significant cause of stress for 69% of the respondents. Among the 47% who experience stress about health care at least sometimes, the cost of health care is the most common source of that stress (64%).

Adults with private insurance (71%) were more likely than those with public insurance (53%) to say the cost of health care causes them stress. Overall, 55% worry that they won’t be able to pay for health care services they may need in the future, according to this year’s Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association (APA).

The online survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, also found that 56% of respondents have significant stress about the 2020 presidential election, an increase from 52% in the period before the 2016 election.

Stress related to climate change rose to 56% this year from 51% last year. Stress associated with widespread sexual harassment rose to 45% this year from 39% last year.

Immigration was cited as a stressor by 48% of respondents in the new poll, which was conducted between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3, 2019. It was most likely to be a source of stress among Hispanics (66%), followed by Asians (52%), Native Americans (48%), blacks (46%) and whites (43%).

Discrimination is a source of stress for 25% of respondents in the new poll, compared with 24% in 2018, 21% in 2017, and 20% in 2016 and 2015.

The majority of people of color (63%) in the 2019 survey said discrimination has hindered them from having a full and productive life, and a similar proportion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) adults (64%) said the same thing. In 2015, 49% of people of color said discrimination prevented them from having a full and productive life.

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FRIDAY, Nov. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The popular herbal supplement kratom may cause liver damage, researchers warn.

Kratom is widely available in smoke shops and online. It’s a botanical product made from Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical evergreen tree found in Southeast Asia. At low doses, it’s a stimulant. At high doses, it has an opioid-like effect.

Use of kratom has risen sharply since the start of the opioid epidemic, and more than 90 deaths have been linked to it, researchers say.

“There are risks associated with using kratom, and liver injury is on the list of things that are a potential consequence of using it,” said William Eggleston, a clinical assistant professor at the Binghamton University-State University of New York’s School of Pharmacy. He wasn’t involved with the study, but reviewed the findings.

There were eight cases of reported liver injury associated with kratom products in the study. Eggleston said this may not seem like a lot, but they are enough to be concerning.

“Maybe we need to re-evaluate whether or not this drug should be available as a dietary supplement,” he said.

Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements don’t need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

And though kratom is a legal herbal supplement, the FDA has warned against its use. The agency has called it “opioid-like” and cited concerns that it might pose an addiction risk.

Some patients report that they have had a good experience with kratom for treating pain, mood disorders and opioid addiction, Eggleston said.

“However, we really don’t have any evidence in the medical literature as of yet to support that,” he said. “So whenever I have the opportunity to speak with a patient who’s using kratom, even if they’re having a positive experience, I certainly caution them that there are a number of potential risks. It is relatively unregulated, and to say that it works is not something that we really know yet.”

For the study, a team led by Dr. Victor Navarro, head of gastroenterology at Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, looked at 404 cases of liver damage from dietary supplements. Eight of the cases, which occurred between 2007 and 2017, were tied to kratom.

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Nov. 8, 2019 — Simmons Prepared Foods Inc. is recalling more than 2 million pounds of poultry products that may be contaminated with metal, the FDA says.

The recalled items, which include the brand�™s ready-to-cook chicken wings, tenderloins, legs, breast meat, and whole birds were produced from Oct. 21, 2019, through Nov. 4, 2019, and shipped to stores in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. See the full list of affected products here.

Health officials are worried some of the chicken may be frozen in customers�™ freezers. Anyone who bought packages marked with the establishment numbers P-1949, P-486, or P-5837 should throw the products away or return them immediately.

There are no confirmed reports of anyone getting sick, but anyone who is worried about a possible illness should call a doctor. People with questions about the recall can contact Donald Miller, senior vice president of sales at Simmons Prepared Foods Inc., at 888-831-7007.

Sources

FDA: �œSimmons Prepared Foods, Inc. Recalls Poultry Products due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination.”

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Several of the parents indicated that they’d never before observed their infant roll on a flat surface until they found their infant dead in one of these products,” Mannen says.

Not all of the infant deaths tied to sleepers involved babies that rolled. In some cases, parents found the babies dead on their backs. Mannen says in many of those instances, some parents reported finding their babies with their faces pressed into the soft, pillow-like material that some sleepers are lined with. When babies burrow their faces into a soft surface like that, they can end up continuously breathing the carbon dioxide they exhale, eventually leading to suffocation.

Because of those reports, the commission has already worked with several companies to recall some infant sleepers, including the popular Fisher-Price Rock n Play Sleeper, the Kids II Rocking Sleeper, the Eddie Bauer Slumber and Soothe Rock Bassinet, and the Disney Baby Doze and Dream Rocker.

Now the agency says parents should not use any inclined sleep products with a seat back that rises more than 10 degrees. It also says parents shouldn’t let babies sleep in car seats, bouncers, or any other device, pillow, or seat that holds them at an angle.

Pediatricians say they know that advice can be hard to follow, especially if a child falls asleep in the car.

Especially if a baby is under four months, it’s very, very important to move them if they’re sleeping in a car seat,” says Lazarus. We’ve seen deaths where a baby’s airway gets cut off when their head falls forward,” she says.

And what about putting the crib mattress at an incline to help with reflux?

Lazarus says she knows pediatricians used to recommend that, but she says new studies show that it doesn’t really help and may be unsafe.

We do not recommend any sort of wedging or propping or positioning at this point,” she says.

In addition to avoiding inclined surfaces, the commission is reminding parents that babies can suffocate if they sleep with blankets, pillows, or other items. The safest way for a baby to sleep is flat on their back, in a bare crib, and on a flat, firm surface.

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By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, Nov. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Clocks were set back one hour on Sunday, but some health experts say it might be better if time changes ended for good.

It’s more than an inconvenience, it’s a potential health threat, they warn.

Over time, daylight saving time (DST) eliminates bright morning light that’s crucial to synchronizing your biologic clock, possibly putting people at increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other harmful effects of sleep deprivation, said Dr. Beth Ann Malow, director of the Sleep Disorders Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

During DST changes, adults lose an average of 15 to 20 minutes of sleep. Along with potential health problems, this may also increase the risk of serious or fatal accidents.

“People think the one-hour transition is no big deal, that they can get over this in a day, but what they don’t realize is their biological clock is out of sync,” Malow said in a Vanderbilt news release.

“It’s not one hour twice a year. It’s a misalignment of our biologic clocks for eight months of the year,” she said. “When we talk about DST and the relationship to light we are talking about profound impacts on the biological clock, which is a structure rooted in the brain. It impacts brain functions such as energy levels and alertness.”

In a commentary published Nov. 4 in the journal JAMA Neurology, Malow and her colleagues summarized large epidemiological studies that support a halt to setting clocks forward or back.

Some people have more flexible circadian rhythms and adjust quickly while others are more affected by the switch to and from DST, including children and people with neurological conditions, Malow said.

There’s evidence that even slight time disruptions, like living on different sides of time zones, can be enough to affect a person’s circadian rhythms, according to Malow.

While many sleep experts believe that doing away with time changes is a good idea, the U.S. federal government isn’t considering any such move. However, many states are taking action. Since 2015, several states have passed DST exemption laws.

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Nov. 4, 2019 — Jade Devis was just a few months pregnant when she learned she had a fast-growing type of breast cancer. Her OB-GYN’s outlook was grim, she says: My baby was too young to save, and it was life-and-death for me.”

Within an hour of leaving the office and her telling me that, I was crying in the car, parked somewhere,” Devis says.

But today, after getting a lumpectomy and months of chemotherapy during her pregnancy, this 36-year-old bookkeeper in California is a happy first-time mom to Bradley, a 3-month-old boy. We’re doing really good right now,” she says.

 

She’s still getting chemo, with her final infusion scheduled for the end of November. Then she’ll get radiation therapy for a month. These treatments, along with surgery, are the main therapies for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the disease Devis is battling.

Hoping for the best “ [a] cure!!” says her oncologist, Gayathri Nagaraj, MD, of Loma Linda University Cancer Center in California.

TNBC is an aggressive type of breast cancer that’s more common among women under 40, like Devis. It’s called triple negative because it isn’t fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or by a protein called HER2. That means hormone therapy and HER2-targeted drugs that treat other types of breast cancer don’t work for TNBC, which leaves those who have it with fewer treatment options.

Devis says she suspected something was wrong before her doctor diagnosed her with cancer. In January, just weeks into her pregnancy, she noticed a hard, painful lump above her left breast. The area felt like it was burning. She says her doctor at the time told her it was probably a clogged milk duct. But Devis was skeptical, and she kept voicing her concerns until she got a biopsy. It showed that she had cancer.

I don’t think anybody understood my symptoms,” she says.

Triple-negative breast cancer can have the same signs as other types of breast cancer, and a new lump or mass is the most common red flag. Other symptoms of breast cancer are breast swelling, dimpling, or a nipple turning inward. Since there are a lot of warning signs, it’s important to have your doctor check any changes you notice.

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FRIDAY, Oct. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many brain injury deaths could be prevented by using an inexpensive drug in the critical hours following a head trauma, a new international study finds.

“Traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone at any time, whether it’s through an incident like a car crash or simply falling down the stairs,” said study co-leader Ian Roberts, a professor of clinical trials at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“We believe that if our findings are widely implemented, they will boost the chances of people surviving head injuries in both high-income and low-income countries around the world,” Roberts added.

For the study, researchers assessed the use of tranexamic acid (TXA), which prevents bleeding into the brain by inhibiting blood clot breakdown, in traumatic brain injury patients.

The 12,000 patients at 175 hospitals in 29 countries received either intravenous TXA or an inactive placebo.

Treatment with TXA within three hours of brain injury reduced the risk of death, the investigators found. The benefits were greatest in patients with mild and moderate brain injury (20% reduction in deaths), while there was no clear survival benefit seen in patients with the most severe brain injuries.

In addition, there was no evidence of harmful side effects and no increase in disability in survivors who received TXA, according to the study.

“We already know that rapid administration of tranexamic acid can save lives in patients with life-threatening bleeding in the chest or abdomen, such as we often see in victims of traffic crashes, shootings or stabbings,” Roberts said in a university news release.

“This hugely exciting new result shows that early treatment with TXA also cuts deaths from head injury,” he added. “It’s an important breakthrough and the first neuroprotective drug for patients with head injury.”

The findings were published Oct. 15 in The Lancet.

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, with an estimated 69 million new cases each year, the study authors noted.

While TXA can prevent brain bleeding from getting worse, it can’t repair damage already done, so early treatment is critical. There was a 10% reduction in effectiveness for every 20-minute delay, the researchers found.

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Oct. 18, 2019 — A shipment of baby powder has been recalled by Johnson & Johnson after U.S. authorities found asbestos in it.The recall comes after months of denial from the company about the presence of the cancer-causing substance in its talc-based products, The New York Times reported Friday.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in samples from a bottle of baby powder bought from an online retailer, according to Johnson & Johnson.

The recalled lot of baby powder is #22318RB and includes 33,000 bottles sold by an unidentified retailer, said company spokesman Ernie Knewitz. He added that this is the first time Johnson & Johnson has pulled its baby powder from the market, The Times reported.

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits from people who allege that baby powder and other talc-based products triggered cancer in them.

Some of the plaintiffs have mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure, and others have ovarian cancer, which has also been linked to asbestos, The Times reported.

Johnson & Johnson said FDA testing as recently as last month found no trace of asbestos. The company says the FDA’s most recent test found “sub-trace levels” of asbestos in samples from a single bottle.

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