Health Highlights: June 9, 2016

FDA Takes Action Against Illegal Online Drug Sellers Safe to Use DNA From 3 People to Create Baby: Study California Smoking Age Rises to 21 1 in 3 Americans Never Floss: Study

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

FDA Takes Action Against Illegal Online Drug Sellers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took action this week against thousands of websites that illegally sell unapproved and potentially dangerous prescription drugs to Americans.

The move was part of an Interpol-led effort called Operation Pangea IX that included regulatory and law enforcement agencies in other countries. The operation targeted the unlawful online sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit medical products.

The FDA sent formal complaints to domain registrars requesting the suspension of 4,402 websites, including 110 that sell the chemical 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) as a weight-loss product. DNP is widely used as a dye, wood preserver, and herbicide and does not have FDA approval for use as a drug.

A person in Rhode Island died in October 2013 after taking DNP.

The FDA also issued warning letters to 53 websites illegally offering unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs to Americans. Along with other federal agencies, the FDA also conducted screenings at International Mail Facilities in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, seizing 797 potentially illegal drug products to treat a wide range of conditions, including depression, narcolepsy, high cholesterol, glaucoma, and asthma.

"Preventing illegal internet sales of dangerous unapproved drugs is critical to protecting consumers' health," George Karavetsos, director of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, said in an agency news release.

Along with potential health threats, illegal online pharmacies pose other risks such as credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses, the FDA warned.


Safe to Use DNA From 3 People to Create Baby: Study

A technique that uses DNA from three people to create a baby is safe, according to a new study.

The in-vitro fertilization technique involves using donor DNA from a second woman in order to help women at risk of passing on serious genetic disorders have a healthy child, BBC News reported.

U.K. researchers assessed more than 500 eggs from 64 donor women and concluded that using DNA from three people did not harm embryo development and significantly reduced the amount of faulty mitochondrial DNA that's passed on, according to the study in the journal Nature.

"This study using normal human eggs is a major advance in our work towards preventing transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease," said study co-author Professor Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University, BBC News reported.


California Smoking Age Rises to 21

California's new law that raises the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 took effect Thursday.

That makes California the second state after Hawaii to raise the minimum age for tobacco products to 21, USA Today reported.

Another new law in California bans electronic cigarettes from public locations such as hospitals, schools and restaurants.

An Institute of Medicine study concluded that the number of smokers nationwide would fall 12 percent if all states raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, USA Today reported.


1 in 3 Americans Never Floss: Study

Nearly one-third of American adults never floss, according to a new study.

Researchers examined data from more than 9,000 adults, 30 and older, and found that 30.3 percent said they flossed daily in the past week, 37.3 percent said they flossed, but not every day, and 32.4 percent said they never flossed, CNN reported.

Rates of non-flossing were higher among men than women, among people 75 and older than those 30-34, among blacks and Hispanics than whites, and among low-income people than those with higher incomes.

The findings show the need for improved patient education about the benefits of flossing, according to study author Dr. Duong Nguyen, an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported.

"I think everything goes back to education," said Nguyen, who added that flossing should be discussed with primary care doctors, not just dentists.

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