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Health Highlights: June 7, 2008

Tainted Salmonella Tomatoes 'Distributed Throughout the Country,' CDC Suggests Many Americans Stressed About Money: Survey Cereal Recalled Due to Undeclared Tree Nuts Regranex Diabetic Foot Gel Carries Cancer Death Warning High-Protein, Low-Fat Dairy Diet Prevents Bone Loss College Teens Less Likely to Have Risky Sex

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

Tainted Salmonella Tomatoes 'Distributed Throughout the Country,' CDC Suggests

Salmonella food poisoning from raw tomatoes has spread to 16 states, causing U.S. health officials to speculate that the outbreak might be nationwide, the Associated Press reports.

The infestation first began in Texas and New Mexico in mid-April, the wire service said. The latest statistics from those two states' health departments put the number of cases at 56 in Texas and 55 in New Mexico to raw, uncooked, tomatoes.

And an additional 50 people are suspected to have been poisoned with the Saintpaul strain of salmonella bacterium, the A.P. said, leading a spokesperson from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to tell the wire service that the rarity of that strain and the number of illnesses "suggest that implicated tomatoes are distributed throughout the country."

At least 23 people have been hospitalized but there have been no deaths among the patients who range in age between 1 and 82, CDC spokesperson Arleen Porcell told the A.P.

In addition to Texas and New Mexico, the Saintpaul salmonella infection has been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, according to the CDC.

Consumers are warned not to buy any raw tomatoes except cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and homegrown tomatoes, the wire service reported.

Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans when they eat food contaminated with animal feces. Symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most people recover without treatment, but salmonella infection can cause serious health problems or death in infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.


Many Americans Stressed About Money: Survey

Three-quarters of American adults are stressed about money and worried about their financial future, according to a new survey released by the American Psychological Association.

The survey of 2,529 adults, conducted between April 7 and 15, found that more than 50 percent reported that they're experiencing stress over housing costs and 48 percent said job stability is a source of stress, United Press International reported.

In addition, 61 percent said family responsibilities are causing them stress, and 57 percent said they have health-related concerns.

"With higher prices, the rising cost of gas and constant media coverage of the state of the economy, many Americans are stressed about the state of their finances," psychologist Katherine Nordal of the APA said in a prepared statement, UPI reported.

She suggested people "analyze their priorities and figure out new ways to manage your stress, and take control of your finances. Pause but don't panic -- remain calm, stay focused and avoid getting caught up in the doom-and-gloom hype in the media."


Cereal Recalled Due to Undeclared Tree Nuts

About 12,553 cases of Post LiveAction Mixed Berry Crunch Cereal are being recalled because some of the boxes may contain undeclared tree nuts (almonds, pecans and/or walnuts).

People with an allergy or severe sensitivity to these nuts may suffer a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they eat the cereal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The recall includes 13-ounce boxes with the UPC code 0043000023890, which were distributed across the United States. People who allergic to tree nuts should not eat this cereal and can call Kraft Foods at 1-866-771-1511 for a full refund.

Kraft confirmed the presence of tree nuts in the cereal after it received a consumer report of an allergic reaction. The company is investigating the situation and believes it was caused by a supplier error.


Regranex Diabetic Foot Gel Carries Cancer Death Warning

A strong "black box" warning about the risk of cancer death has been added to Johnson & Johnson's Regranex Gel, a topical cream used to treat diabetes patients with leg and foot ulcers that aren't healing.

A study found that patients who used three or more tubes of Regranex had a fivefold increased risk of cancer death, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

"In announcing this label change, FDA still cautions health care professionals to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of treating patients with Regranex," Dr. Susan Walker, director of the agency's Division of Dermatological and Dental Products, said in a prepared statement. "Regranex is not recommended for patients with known malignancies."


High-Protein, Low-Fat Dairy Diet Prevents Bone Loss

A high-protein, low-fat dairy diet can help prevent bone loss in people trying to lose weight, according to a U.S. study.

Many people lose bone mass when they lose weight and this can become an issue for middle-aged people, particularly women, said Ellen Evans, an associate professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, CBC News reported.

The study included 130 middle-aged people divided into two groups. One group ate a high-protein weight loss diet that included cheese, yogurt and low-fat milk, while the other group ate a high-carbohydrate weight loss diet. They stayed on these diets for four months of weight loss, followed by eight months of weight maintenance.

At the end of the year, the high-protein diet group had 1.2 percent higher whole body bone density, 2.1 percent higher lumbar spine bone density, and 1.4 percent higher hip bone density than the carbohydrate group, CBC News reported.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Nutrition.


College Teens Less Likely to Have Risky Sex

American teens who attend college are less likely to have risky sex than teens who aren't in college, say researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.

They found that teen college students were more likely to always use a condom and less likely to engage in high-risk sex than teens who weren't in college, United Press International reported.

According to the study:

  • 23 percent of teen college students and 35 percent of non-college teens reported inconsistent condom use.
  • 15 percent of college students and 29 percent of non-college teens engaged in casual sex.
  • 5 percent of college students and 16 percent of non-college teens had high-risk sex, which included casual sex, inconsistent condom use, having sex with a man who had sex with other men, or having a sex partner who was HIV positive or was an intravenous drug user.
  • 53 percent of college students and 70 percent of non-college teens engaged in sex in the previous month.

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


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