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Health Highlights: Jan. 11, 2008

Canned Beans Recalled Over Botulism Concerns FDA OKs Blood-Typing Tests High Lead Levels Prompt Recall of Tinker Bell Lamps New Method of Creating Embryonic Stem Cells Devised Saliva Test May Detect Breast Cancer Cholesterol May Help Build Muscle

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

Canned Beans Recalled Over Botulism Concerns

New Era Canning Co. of New Era, Mich. is recalling cans of Mexican style chili beans, green beans, and dark red kidney beans that may not have been adequately cooked and have the potential for growth of Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The recall covers the following products:

  • GFS brand Fancy Mexican Style Chili Beans in 6 lb. 12 oz. cans with lot number 00249 5AJ6LC with a 4-digit time stamp number ranging from 2113 through 2235 printed on the end of the can after the lot number.
  • Kitchen brand Blue Lake Mixed Cut Green Beans in 6 lb. 6 oz. cans with lot number 00249 6FG5GA printed on the end of the cans. They were not sold at retail stores, but were distributed to a Michigan restaurant.
  • Great Value brand Dark Red Kidney Beans in 15.5 oz cans with lot number 00249 CKJ6LD printed on the end of the can. They were sold at Wal-Mart stores in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The company and the FDA are not aware of any illnesses related to these products. Botulism, a potentially deadly form of food poisoning, may have symptoms such as: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, abdominal distention and constipation.


FDA Approves New Blood-Typing Tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it's approved 14 new tests for determining a person's blood type, a process that's essential to a safe blood supply and safe transfusions.

Mismatched transfused blood can cause serious, potentially fatal reactions.

"These 14 new tests will provide blood establishments and transfusion services with additional choices to help assure safe, well-matched transfusions," Dr. Jesse L. Goodman, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a prepared statement. "The tests offer a broader diversity of reliable blood-typing tests and will help protect against product shortages."

The Olympus PK System Blood Group and Phenotyping Reagents use monoclonal antibodies to test for the A, B, O and Rh factors, as well as for other factors that signify rarer blood types.

The tests are manufactured by a French company, DIAGAST.


High Lead Levels Prompt Recall of Tinker Bell Lamps

About 60,000 children's novelty lamps have been recalled because surface paint on the lamps contains excessive amounts of lead, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.

The Tinker Bell lamps, made in Hong Kong and distributed by Kash N' Gold Ltd. of Deer Park, N.Y., include a sculpted Tinker Bell figure in a flower garden. An animation of Tinker Bell swaying back and forth while music plays is begun when the light switch or demo button is pressed.

The lamps were sold at electronics and appliance stores across the United States from January 2007 through October 2007 for about $40. Consumers with these lamps should stop using them and return them to the place of purchase for a refund.



New Method of Creating Embryonic Stem Cells Devised

U.S. scientists say they've created a number of colonies of human embryonic stem cells without harming embryos from which cells were taken, the Washington Post reported.

The scientists extracted a single cell from the embryo (which in-vitro fertilization clinics do when they test for genetic defects) and introduced a molecule called laminin to keep it in a stem cell state.

The research, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the latest in series of advances that may hasten development of stem cell therapies for a number of diseases, the Post reported.

Since this new method doesn't harm the embryo, it should be eligible for U.S. government funding, said study leader Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Advance Cell Technology in Massachusetts.


Saliva Test May Detect Breast Cancer

A saliva test that may provide early warning of breast cancer is being developed by University of Texas researchers, BBC News reported.

Researchers looked at saliva samples from 30 women and identified 49 proteins that differentiated between women who had breast cancer and those free of the disease.

These proteins may also be able to help identify tumors that are malignant or benign, BBC News reported.

Because the test is simple, it could be used at the physician's or dentist's office for a quick cancer check, the researchers said. The study was published in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Cancer Investigation.

The researchers are planning clinical trials of the saliva test prototype, and are also investigating the use of saliva to detect other cancers, including cervical cancer.


Cholesterol May Help Build Muscle

Low cholesterol levels may good for your heart, but cholesterol levels that are too low may negate exercise-related muscle gain, says a Texas A&M University study of 50 men and women, ages 60 to 69.

Participants took part in a 12-week exercise program that included stretching, riding a stationary bike and weightlifting. They all ate similar meals, CBC News reported.

The most impressive gains in muscle strength occurred in those with the highest cholesterol levels, rather than those with the lowest levels.

The study authors said cholesterol may play an important role in muscle tissue repair, which is critical in building muscle mass, CBC News reported.

"As you exercise, your muscles can become sore because they are rebuilding muscle mass. More cholesterol may result in a more robust inflammatory response. We know that inflammation in some areas, such as near the heart, is not good, but for building muscles it may be beneficial, and cholesterol appears to aid in this process," lead investigator Steven Riechman, assistant professor of health and kineisiology at Texas A&M, said in a prepared statement.

The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology.

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