Health Highlights: March 2, 2011

Long-term Use of Popular Heartburn Drugs May Lower Magnesium Levels: FDA Serena Williams Undergoes Emergency Treatment Happiness Boosts Health and Lifespan: Study Unethical Medical Studies Could Still Occur: Experts E. Coli on Many Shopping Cart Handles: Study Painkillers Like Aspirin May Hike Impotence Risk: Study

HealthDay News

HealthDay News

Updated on March 02, 2011

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

Long-term Use of Popular Heartburn Drugs May Lower Magnesium Levels: FDA

Popular stomach acid reducing drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, will have to carry a new warning that they may cause low magnesium levels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

Low serum magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia) can result in muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat and seizures, according to the notice posted on the FDA website, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

Proton pump inhibitors include prescription drugs such as Nexium that are used to treat certain types of stomach ulcers and other conditions that affect the esophagus.

Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor medicines such as Prevacid and Prilosec are widely used to treat frequent heartburn, according to Down Jones.


Serena Williams Undergoes Emergency Treatment

U.S. tennis star Serena Williams received emergency treatment Monday for a hematoma, a few days after a blood clot was found in her lungs, according to her spokeswoman.

Spokeswoman Nicole Chabot told People magazine that the 29-year-old Williams "underwent emergency treatment for a hematoma suffered as a result of treatment for a more critical situation," the Associated Press reported.

Williams is being treated at a Los Angeles hospital.

"Doctors are continuing to monitor her situation closely to avoid additional complications," Chabot told the magazine, the AP reported.

Williams has undergone two operations on her right foot after being cut by glass at a restaurant. The blood clot was found after she returned to Los Angeles from New York "for doctor appointments for the ongoing issues with her foot," Chabot said.


Happiness Boosts Health and Lifespan: Study

Being happy may improve your health and help you live longer, suggests a new study.

Researchers reviewed more than 160 studies and found that positive moods increase immune function, reduce stress-related hormones and promote fast recovery of the heart after exertion. On the other hand, anxiety, depression, pessimism and a lack of enjoyment of daily activities are associated with higher rates of disease and a shorter lifespan, United Press International reported.

"We reviewed eight different types of studies. And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being -- that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed -- contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations," Ed Diener, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release.

The study was published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

"Happiness is no magic bullet, but the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting disease or dying young," said Diener, UPI reported.


Unethical Medical Studies Could Still Occur: Experts

Despite numerous rules and regulations meant to prevent unethical medical studies, there is no guarantee that such research won't occur, experts told the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on Tuesday.

Last fall, the U.S. government apologized for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago. President Barack Obama asked the commission to determine whether this kind of unethical study could ever happen again, the Associated Press reported.

In recent decades, as many as 1,000 rules, regulations and guidelines to ensure the ethical conduct of medical research have been enacted worldwide. But unethical studies can still occur, experts told the commission.

"It's night and day" between now and "what you could do in the 'good old days' with no one knowing about it," said Dr. Robert Califf, vice chancellor for clinical research at Duke University, the AP reported.

"But there's no 100 percent guarantee. There still will be bad things that will happen," he added.


E. Coli on Many Shopping Cart Handles: Study

About 50 percent of shopping cart handles have E. coli on them, along with a number of other types of bacteria, say U.S. researchers who tested shopping cart handles in four states.

"That's more than you find in a supermarket's restroom," said lead researcher Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, reported. "That's because they use disinfecting cleaners in the restrooms. Nobody routinely cleans and disinfects shopping carts."

He said the findings may explain previous findings that children who ride in shopping carts are at increased risk for infections caused by bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter.

Gerba said parents should wipe shopping cart handles with a disinfecting wipe before they place their children in the shopping cart seat, reported.


Painkillers Like Aspirin May Hike Impotence Risk: Study

Regular use of pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen may increase men's risk for erectile dysfunction, a new study says.

Researchers looked at more than 80,000 men, ages 45 to 69, and found that those who used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) three times a day for more than three months have a 22 percent increased risk of erectile dysfunction, USA Today reported.

Men who regularly used NSAIDs were about 2.4 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who didn't use the drugs regularly or at all.

"Regular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use is associated with erectile dysfunction beyond what would be expected due to age and other conditions," said Steve Jacobsen, director of research for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, USA Today reported.

He added that further research is needed and it's premature for men to avoid NSAIDs based solely on these findings, which appear in this week's Journal of Urology.


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