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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LifeScan recalls lots of glucose test strips

BY Michael Johnsen

MILPITAS, Calif. LifeScan on Wednesday issued a voluntary recall in the United States of eight lots of OneTouch SureStep test strips, used by people with diabetes to measure their blood glucose levels at home.

The test strips are being recalled because they may provide falsely low glucose results when the glucose level is higher than 400 mg/dL, Johnson & Johnson stated. LifeScan estimated approximately 14,000 packages (50- and 100-count) of consumer OneTouch SureStep Test Strips were distributed nationwide between Aug. 1, 2009, and Jan. 28, 2010.

Patients with test strips from the recalled lots are asked to call LifeScan at 1-800 574-6139 between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm Pacific Time, seven days a week or visit www.SureStep.com to request replacement product.  Replacement product will be shipped immediately and provided free of charge.

The eight lots of consumer OneTouch SureStep Test Strips being recalled are:Recalled Lot       Size         Description     # 2969251         100-ct     OneTouch SureStep# 2969798         100-ct     OneTouch SureStep# 2982369         100-ct     OneTouch SureStep# 2983467         100-ct     OneTouch SureStep# 2969795          50-ct      OneTouch SureStep# 2982566          50-ct      OneTouch SureStep# 2969481          50-ct      Medicare/Mail Order# 2998193          50-ct      Medicare/Mail Order

Lot #’s are located on the outer carton and test strip vial.

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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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