Health Highlights: April 14, 2015
Tobacco Companies Sue FDA Over Label Rules Shrinking Space on Airplanes Raises Safety Concerns Rita Wilson Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Surgery Egg Company Executives Get 3-Month Jail Sentence in Salmonella Outbreak Case FDA Issues Warning About Tri-Methyl Extreme Dietary Supplement 200 Struck by Stomach Illness on 2 Separate Cruise Ships
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Tobacco Companies Sue FDA Over Label Rules
Large tobacco companies have launched legal action against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over labels on tobacco products.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims the FDA is violating the Tobacco Control Act by forcing them to submit labels for approval, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The tobacco companies argue that that FDA's authority is limited to labels that make a "modified risk" claim and that they should be free to change the color and look of their packaging as they wish.
"We disagree that FDA's new requirements that manufacturers must obtain agency authorization before changing certain product labels when the actual physical tobacco product remains exactly the same," said Brian May, an Altria Group Inc. spokesman, WSJ reported.
"We're asking the court to resolve these issues so that we and other manufacturers know how to proceed," he added.
Shrinking Space on Airplanes Raises Safety Concerns
The safety of cramming as many seats as possible on airliners is being examined by a consumer advisory group created by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
One of the concerns is that having rows of seats so tight together makes it harder for passengers to evacuate after a crash, the Associated Press reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration conducts tests to determine how fast passengers can get out of a plane and how fast they can put on a life preserver.
However, those tests are conducted using planes with 31 inches between each row of seats, Cynthia Corbertt, a human factors researcher with the FAA, testified at an advisory group meeting Tuesday.
But many passenger jets have less space between seats. For example, United Airlines has 30 inches of space on some aircraft, while Spirit Airlines has 28 inches, the AP reported.
Rita Wilson Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Surgery
Actress Rita Wilson revealed to People magazine that she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had both breasts removed, followed by reconstructive surgery.
"Last week, with my husband by my side, and with the love and support of family and friends, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma. I am recovering and most importantly, expected to make a full recovery," the 58-year-old wife of Tom Hanks said.
She also told People that her cancer was diagnosed only after she sought a second opinion.
"I share this to educate others that a second opinion is critical to your health. You have nothing to lose if both opinions match up for the good, and everything to gain if something that was missed is found, which does happen. Early diagnosis is key," Wilson said.
"I feel blessed to have a loving, supportive husband, family, friends and doctors and that I am the beneficiary of advances in the field of breast cancer and reconstruction. I am getting better every day and look forward to renewed health," she told People.
Egg Company Executives Get 3-Month Jail Sentence in Salmonella Outbreak Case
Two former egg company executives were sentenced to three months in jail in connection with a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people.
Austin "Jack" DeCoster, 80, and his son Peter DeCoster, 51, will remain free while they appeal their sentence after pleading guilty on charges of shipping adulterated food, the Associated Press reported.
The sentence sends a strong message about the importance of following food safety rules, according to the prosecutors.
There were 1,939 illnesses reported in the salmonella outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but officials say that up to 56,000 people may have been sickened, the AP reported.
The DeCosters knew their Iowa egg facilities were at risk for salmonella contamination before the outbreak, according to investigators.
The DeCosters' Quality Egg company paid a $6.8 million fine as part of a plea agreement, and the father and son each paid $100,000, the AP reported.
FDA Issues Warning About Tri-Methyl Xtreme Dietary Supplement
Consumers should stop using a muscle growth product called Tri-Methyl Xtreme dietary supplement because it may cause liver damage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The product, distributed by Extreme Products Group and sold on the Internet and in some retail stores and gyms, claims to contain anabolic steroids.
The FDA launched an investigation into the product after receiving complaints from three people, one each in California, New Jersey and Utah. No reports of deaths from the use of the product have been received by the FDA.
"Products marketed as supplements that contain anabolic steroids pose a real danger to consumers," Dr. Charles Lee, a senior medical advisor in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Office of Compliance, said in an agency news release.
"Anabolic steroids may have a range of serious adverse effects on many organ systems, and the damage may be irreversible," he explained.
People who think they are having health problems associated with Tri-Methyl Xtreme or other body building products should seek medical help, especially if they have unexplained fatigue, abdominal or back pain, discolored urine or other changes in their health, the FDA said.
200 Struck by Stomach Illness on 2 Separate Cruise Ships
More than 200 people aboard two different cruise ships headed to San Diego have fallen ill with a gastrointestinal illness, U.S. health officials said Monday evening.
According to the Associated Press, 112 passengers and crew members on the Celebrity Infinity were struck with norovirus on the ship's latest voyage, which took passengers from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego via the Panama Canal.
That ship arrived in San Diego Monday and is being sanitized, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, 116 passengers and crew have become experiencing vomiting and diarrhea from an unknown illness while aboard a second cruise ship, the Royal Caribbean Legend. That vessel is set to arrive in San Diego Tuesday, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the AP.
Norovirus can be transmitted from contaminated food or water or an infected person, CDC officials told the wire service.