HEALTH

CDC panel expands influenza vaccination recommendations

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA A panel of immunization experts reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday voted to expand the recommendation for annual influenza vaccination to include all people ages 6 months and older, a marked change from recommendations in the past that identified high-priority groups by age and condition, groups that apply to approximately 85% of the population.

The expanded recommendation is to take effect in the 2010/2011 influenza season. The new recommendation seeks to remove barriers to influenza immunization and signals the importance of preventing influenza across the entire population, the agency stated.

 

Discussion at the ACIP meeting focused on the value of protecting all people 19 to 49 years of age, who have been hard hit by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus, which is likely to continue circulating into next season and beyond. Another reason cited in favor of a universal recommendation for vaccination is that many people in currently recommended “higher risk” groups are unaware of their risk factor or that they are recommended for vaccination.

 

 

Finally, new data collected over the course of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic indicates that some people who do not currently have a specific recommendation for vaccination also may be at higher risk of serious flu-related complications, including those people who are obese, post-partum women and people in certain racial/ethnic groups.

 

 

More influenza vaccine doses will be required to vaccinate all adults. However, based on current projections, more licensed types and brands of seasonal influenza vaccines will be available in the 2010-11 influenza season than has ever been available before.

 

 

Historically, uptake of seasonal influenza vaccine has been less than half of the number of persons with a specific recommendation for vaccination.

 

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Quigley unveils cough-cold education videos online

BY Michael Johnsen

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. Quigley Corp. on Wednesday announced the introduction of series of online videos aimed at educating the public about staying healthy during the cough-cold season.

The series, hosted by medical correspondent Bob Arnot, offers information about prevention, and if that doesn’t work, symptomatic relief of the common cold.

“The fact that we make a product that has been clinically proven to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, certainly helped drive our decision to underwrite the series,” stated Ted Karkus, Quigley CEO.

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Study finds bitter melon may reduce breast cancer risk

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Many Westerners trying it for the first time cringe the moment it enters their mouths, and its taste is so strong that some brewers in China even use it as a substitute for hops, but a new study indicates that the bitter melon also may ward off breast cancer.

The study, published online on Feb. 23 and scheduled to appear in the March 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research, found that an extract of bitter melon was able to slow the growth of and in some cases kill breast cancer cells while leaving healthy breast cells untouched when applied directly do them.

The bitter melon, whose name is a direct translation from its Chinese name, kugua, is common in many Asian cuisines and used in traditional Chinese medicine, though it’s rarely found outside Asian food markets in the United States. The bright green fruit resembles a cucumber with the skin of a toad.

Researchers conducting the study quoted in published reports said that bitter melon extract, which is widely available in the United States, was unlikely to cure cancer, but might have preventive properties.

According to the National Bitter Melon Council, bitter melons contain twice the calcium of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, twice the beta carotene of broccoli and are rich in dietary fiber, phosphorus and vitamins A, B1, B3 and C.

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