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Health Highlights: April 8, 2014

Honey with Added Sweeteners Not Honey: FDA Scientists Rejuvenate Organ in Old Mice Avoid Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen Weight Loss Capsules: FDA

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Honey with Added Sweeteners Not Honey: FDA

Food companies cannot add sugar or other sweeteners to pure honey and still call it honey, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The agency said it would consider enforcement action against U.S. businesses or importers if they do not properly label honey with added sweeteners, the Associated Press reported.

If sweeteners are added, labels should inform consumers that the product is a "blend of sugar and honey" or "blend of honey and corn syrup," the FDA said.

It's common for the agency to detain honey imports after discovering they contain drug residues and unlabeled added sweeteners, the AP reported.


Scientists Rejuvenate Organ in Old Mice

U.K. scientists who used gene manipulation to rejuvenate a worn-out organ in older mice said their research could prove important in improving the lives of older people.

This world-first achievement focused on the thymus, which plays a crucial role in immune function. The organ shrinks and becomes less effective with age, making people more susceptible to infection, BBC News reported.

The University of Edinburgh team used a drug to boost the activity of a gene that naturally shuts down as the thymus ages. Increasing the activity of this gene gave elderly mice the thymus of a much younger animal, according to the study in the journal Development.

"The exciting thing really is the manner in which it is done. We've targeted a single gene and we've been able to regenerate an entire organ," Dr. Nick Bredenkamp told BBC News.


Avoid Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen Weight Loss Capsules: FDA

Consumers are being warned against using Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen weight loss capsules because they contain at least one potentially harmful ingredient that is not listed on the label, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Tests on the Chinese-made capsules from various distributors nationwide showed that they contained one or two undeclared drug ingredients.

One is sibutramine, which was taken off the U.S. market in 2010 for safety reasons. It is known to significantly boost blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may pose a serious risk to patients with a history of heart disease, heart failure, heart rhythm problems, or stroke.

The other potentially harmful ingredient is phenolphthalein, which may pose a cancer risk and is not an active ingredient in any approved drug in the U.S., the FDA said.

The agency has received dozens of reports of problems experienced by people taking the capsules, including increased heart rate, heart palpitations, suicidal thoughts, chest pain, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, increased blood pressure and seizures.

Anyone who has suffered harmful side effects while taking the product should see a doctor, the FDA said.

Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen is sold on the Internet and in various retail stores, spas and fitness centers. Licensed health care professionals have also promoted the product. The FDA is investigating the distribution of the product and may take enforcement action to halt sales.

"Products that contain hidden drugs pose a real danger to consumers," Carol Bennett, acting director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. "This is especially true when the products have names that mislead consumers into believing they are safe and natural."

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