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Health Highlights: Feb. 9, 2002

Hemp Food Industry Not Up In Smoke Yet, Thanks To DEA Reprieve First Case Of HIV Transmission From Donated Blood Since Preventative Technology Reported Tall, Happy and Rich? A Healthy Stroke of Luck Mmmm, Mmmm, Oops! Campbell's Recalls Soup Castro Awaits Pharmaceutical Offers From U.S. Herbal Supplements Containing Prescription Drugs Recalled

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

Hemp Food Industry Not Up In Smoke Yet, Thanks To DEA Reprieve

Purveyors of food products containing hemp have a 40-day grace period for trashing their stash, thanks to an extension on a ban from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York Times reports.

The ban, issued by the DEA in October, was designed to snuff out the growing industry of products ranging from snack bars to pretzels that contain hemp.

The ban stems from the fact that the hemp plant is a close relative of marijuana and contains a small amount of the mind-altering substance tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects.

Those in the hemp food industry say their products don't contain enough THC to have any kind of mind-altering effect and have filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The extension on the ban was granted by the DEA in order to give the appeals court time to rule.


First Case Of HIV Transmission From Donated Blood Since Preventative Technology Reported

A 51-year-old Texas man has reportedly become the first U.S. case of a patient contracting HIV from donated blood since strict measures to prevent such transmissions were put in place three years ago, reports the Associated Press.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center said that David Autrey, a Texas ranch hand, was infected with HIV through a blood transfusion that was given at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Tex., during an emergency heart bypass surgery in August of 2000.

The blood center reported that all of the tainted blood had been located and that Autrey was the only patient to have received the tainted blood.

Officials say that despite sophisticated new technology to prevent such accidents, there is a potential flaw in detecting the virus in blood from those who donated blood soon after being exposed to HIV.

Autrey told the San Antonio Express-News that the HIV (drug) cocktail he must take is "no fun," and that his life has been "devastated" by the virus.


Tall, Happy and Rich? A Real Stroke of Luck

In trying to narrow down the profile of people who are more likely to suffer strokes, researchers from Tel Aviv University now say it appears men who are tall, are in stable family relationships and have little financial stress are in the safer zone when it comes to stroke risk, the Associated Press reports.

Findings presented at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting in San Antonio, Tex., yesterday show that the risk of death from stroke among men reporting "very serious" family problems was about 4.8 percent, compared to 3.5 percent among those with no family problems.

Among the shorter men in the group studied, the risk of dying from stroke was 54 percent greater than those in the tallest portion of the group. In addition, those who said their financial problems were "very serious" had a 4.7 percent chance of dying from stroke, compared with 3.7 percent of those with no financial difficulties.

The findings come from tracking the health and causes of death of 10,059 men over the course of 23 years. All of the men were over the age 40 at the beginning and 364 went on to die from strokes.


Mmmm, Mmmm, Oops! Campbell's Recalls Soup

Campbell Soup Co. has announced a recall of about 237,000 cans of tomato soup because of mislabeling, reports the Associated Press.

The soup company said yesterday that cans labeled "Ready to Serve Classic Tomato Soup" actually contain "Ready to Serve Classic Creamy Tomato Soup," which may contain milk and soy protein.

The soup was distributed in 37 states. No illnesses have been reported.

Cans that have been mislabeled have a date code on the bottom of the can reading "NOV 2002 11211," "CT KSYT," and four numbers indicating military time.


Castro Awaits Pharmaceutical Offers From U.S.

Cuban president Fidel Castro said his country is ready and willing to consider offers from U.S. pharmaceutical companies to help restock the Communist nation's drug and medical supplies, which were depleted last fall by Hurricane Michelle.

Castro said he expected the transactions to be similar to the $35 million in contracts Cuba signed for U.S. agricultural products last year to restock food supplies, reports the Associated Press.

An embargo that has been in place for 40 years permits sales of American medicine and medical supplies to Cuba, but bans the involvement of U.S. financing in those deals.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan visited with Castro last month to discuss providing his state's medicine and medical supplies, and Chicago-based Ferris Mfg. Corp., said Castro had expressed interest in conducting trials on burn treatments.


Herbal Supplements Containing Prescription Drugs Recalled

Two herbal supplements sold as treatments for prostate and immune system enhancement have been recalled by manufacturer BotanicLab for containing potentially dangerous prescription drugs, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.

According to the Associated Press, tests conducted by the California Health Department revealed that the product PC SPES, marketed for prostate health, contains a powerful blood thinner called warfarin, and SPES, sold as an immune enhancer, contains the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, widely known as Xanax.

Warfarin can reportedly cause serious bleeding that can be exacerbated when taken with aspirin, and alprazolam can be habit-forming and increase the effect of alcohol.


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