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Health Highlights: June 17, 2009

Chopping Before Cooking Cuts Carrot's Cancer-Fighting Power AMA Opposes Labeling Obesity a Disability FDA Experts Recommend Gout Drug's Approval

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

Chopping Before Cooking Cuts Carrot's Cancer-Fighting Power

Carrots retain more of an anti-cancer compound if they're not cut up before they're cooked, say British researchers.

Carrots that were chopped up before they were boiled contained 25 percent less of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than carrots that were boiled whole, BBC News reported.

The findings will be presented at a nutrition conference in France.

"Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked," explained lead researcher Kirsten Brandt, of Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

"By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round," Brandt said, BBC News reported.


AMA Opposes Labeling Obesity a Disability

The American Medical Association decided Tuesday to formally oppose attempts to define obesity as a disability.

The adoption of the new policy is meant to help doctors who want to discuss obesity with their overweight patients, the Associated Press reported. If obesity is defined as a disability, it's feared that doctors may be vulnerable under disability laws to lawsuits from obese patients who don't want to hear about their weight from doctors.

The new policy was passed at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago.

Also on Tuesday, the group voted to lobby for legislation to ban pharmacies from selling tobacco products, the AP said.


FDA Experts Recommend Gout Drug's Approval

An expert panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted 14-1 on Tuesday to recommend that the full agency approve the Savient Pharmaceuticals drug Krystexxa (pegloticase), Dow Jones reported.

Last week, the FDA released documents saying that although the drug appeared to relieve the painful, swollen joints that characterize gout, it was concerned about the higher rate of cardiovascular side effects that surfaced during clinical testing.

About 24 percent of clinical trial participants who took Krystexxa had a serious adverse effect, compared with 12 percent of those who took a non-medicinal placebo. Six deaths were reported among those who took the drug, versus three deaths among those who didn't. But the FDA "noted that many of them had pre-existing heart conditions," the Associated Press reported.

The FDA has been reviewing the approval application from the drug's maker since December, the AP said.

Gout, which affects an estimated 8 million Americans, is caused by the buildup of too much uric acid in the body.

The full agency is not bound by the recommendations of its expert panels but usually follows them. The FDA's decision is expected by the end of July.

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