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Health Headlines - April 29

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:22pm

Tomato Paste Boosts Skin's Sun Protection: Study

Consumption of tomato paste may help boost the skin's protection against harmful ultraviolet rays, which can lead to premature aging and skin cancer, British researchers say.

The study included 10 people who consumed about 55 grams of tomato paste and 10 grams of olive oil a day, and 10 others who consumed just the 10 grams of olive oil. After three months, an analysis of skin samples showed that those in the tomato paste group had 33 percent more protection against sunburn and higher levels of a molecule called procollagen, which gives skin its structure and keeps it firm, BBC News reported.

The study was presented at a meeting of the British Society for Investigative Dermatology.

The researchers believe the antioxidant lycopene was behind the apparent skin benefit, BBC News reported.

"These weren't huge amounts of tomato we were feeding the group. It was the sort of quantity you would easily manage if you were eating a lot of tomato-based meals," said Professor Lesley Rhodes, a University of Manchester dermatologist.

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Digitek Heart Tablets Recalled

Digitek-brand digoxin heart tablets are being recalled because of a potential safety risk, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some tablets may be double the appropriate thickness and contain twice the approved level of active ingredient, United Press International reported.

The products are made by Actavis Totowa LLC and distributed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., under a "Bertek" label and by UDL Laboratories, Inc. under a "UDL" label.

Digitek is used to treat heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Double-strength tablets could cause digitalis toxicity in patients with renal failure, resulting in nausea, vomiting, dizziness, low blood pressure, cardiac instability and brachycardia -- a below-normal heartbeat. Excessive digitalis intake can also cause death.

Patients and caregivers with questions can call 888-276-6166. Any adverse reactions should be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Program at 800-332-1088.

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Pfaltzgraff/Nautica Dinnerware Recalled

Certain Pfaltzgraff Villa della Luna pattern and Nautica J Class pattern stoneware dinnerware products are being recalled by Lifetime Brands, Inc. of Garden City, N.Y., because they may contain unacceptably high levels of lead and/or cadmium.

No illnesses have been reported to date, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The products included in the recall are: Nautica J Class red dinner plates; Villa della Luna dinner plates; Nautica J Class red salad plates; and Villa della Luna soup/cereal bowls.

The products may have been sold as part of a set or individually online and at retail stores across the United States. Call 800-4991976 for more information about the Pfaltzgraff recall, and 866-928-0060 for more information about the Nautica recall.

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Gene Therapy Helps People With Rare Form of Blindness

Scientists used gene therapy to improve vision in six people with a rare inherited disorder called Leber's congenital amaurosis, USA Today reported. The condition causes a gradual deterioration of eyesight beginning at birth, leading to blindness by a person's mid-20s.

While none of the six patients regained normal vision, four have much better eyesight than before the gene therapy, according to two studies published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. The studies were conducted by an international team led by doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.

Experts hailed the achievement as a welcome success in gene therapy, which has shown promise but has had significant setbacks.

"It's a breakthrough. It really helps to validate that gene therapy can work and is going to be important," Ronald Crystal, chairman of the department of genetic medicine at New York's Weill Medical College of Cornell University, told USA Today.

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Virus Outbreak in China Kills 20 Children

An outbreak of enterovirus 71 in eastern China has sickened nearly 1,200 children, killing 20, according to health officials in Anhui province, the Associated Press reported.

The first infections were noted in March in the city of Fuyang, but the virus may have gone undetected before that since the symptoms were similar to other common childhood illnesses, said Fen Lizhong, an official with the Anhui public health bureau.

Most of the stricken children were under two years old and none was older than six. About 371 children are still being treated and more than 550 have recovered, according to information on the health bureau's Web site, the AP reported.

This is the season when enterovirus 71 is prevalent. It's one of several viruses that cause hand, foot and mouth disease, which is characterized by fever, mouth sores and a rash with blisters. Enterovirus 71 is spread by direct contact with saliva, nose and throat discharges, fluid from blisters, or the stool of an infected person.

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Philippines Banning Most Kidney Transplants for Foreigners

A permanent ban on most kidney transplants for foreign patients is expected to be announced this week by health officials in the Philippines, according to the Philippine Society of Nephrology.

Under the new law, foreign patients will not be able to receive a kidney from a living Filipino who isn't a blood relative, Agence France-Presse reported.

Last month, a temporary suspension of transplants to foreigners was announced, to give health officials time to create new guidelines for organ donations.

Many doctors and religious leaders have expressed concern about the widespread trafficking of kidneys from impoverished and poorly-educated Filipinos, who can sell a kidney to a foreigner for about $3,000, AFP reported.

In 2006, a total of 436 kidney transplants from unrelated living donors were carried out in 24 Philippine hospitals, according to government figures.

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