Health Highlights: Nov. 1, 2017
Companies Warned Over Cancer Treatment Claims for Marijuana-Derived Products: FDA Assaults Rise When Clocks Turned Back: Study Nutrient Drink Doesn't Slow Alzheimer's: Study Companies Warned Over Potentially Dangerous Body-Building Products: FDA
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Companies Warned Over Cancer Treatment Claims for Marijuana-Derived Products: FDA
Warning letters have been sent to four companies for claiming that their marijuana-derived products treat or cure cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The companies are Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That's Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC.
Together, they've made unsubstantiated cancer claims about more than 25 products sold online, according to the FDA. Some of the products were also marketed as an alternative or additional treatment for Alzheimer's and other serious diseases.
"Selling these unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, but also can put patients at risk as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective. The deceptive marketing of unproven treatments may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases," an FDA news release said.
"Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors. We don't let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we're not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in the news release.
The companies have been told to inform the FDA on how they will correct these violations. Failure to do so may result in legal action such as injunction and product seizure, the agency said.
Assaults Rise When Clocks Turned Back: Study
Assaults rise in the United States when the clocks are turned back one hour in the fall, a new study says.
It found a 3 percent increase in assaults when daylight savings time ends, which occurs on Nov. 5 this year, but a 3 percent decrease in assaults when daylight savings time starts in March, CBS News reported.
The University of Pennsylvania study also found that car crashes, workplace injuries and suicides all increase the Monday after clocks are turned ahead an hour in the spring.
"Sleep problems have previously been associated with increased antisocial and criminal behavior, so we were surprised to find that increased sleep was associated with increased offending," researcher Adrian Raine said in a news release, CBS News reported.
Nutrient Drink Doesn't Slow Alzheimer's: Study
A nutrient drink that claims to "help" slow early Alzheimer's disease does not preserve memory or thinking, researchers say.
The phase two clinical trial findings about Souvenaid, which contains fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients, were published in The Lancet Neurology journal, BBC News reported.
The study included 311 patients with mild cognitive impairment or very early Alzheimer's disease. Half drank Souvenaid daily while the others drank a placebo. After two years, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of dementia progression.
Those in the Souvenaid group did have slightly less brain shrinkage, BBC News reported.
Souvenaid maker Nutricia says the product should only be taken under the direction of a doctor, specialist nurse or pharmacist.
"We are pleased that this adds to the body of evidence for Souvenaid and we remain committed to ongoing and further clinical research," a company spokeswoman said, BBC News reported.
"Some of the other tests of brain structure and function were promising, but overall this study indicates that a specific change in nutrition is unlikely to make a large difference to people with Alzheimer's, even in the early stages," said Professor Tara Spires-Jones, a dementia expert at the University of Edinburgh.
"There is strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle including exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce risk for developing dementia, but once the brain damage starts, a dietary intervention is unlikely to stop the disease," she told BBC News.
Companies Warned Over Potentially Dangerous Body-Building Products: FDA
Warning letters about distributing potentially harmful body-building products that contain selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have been sent to a number of companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The products are marketed and labeled as dietary supplements, but are unapproved drugs, according to the agency.
The warning letters were sent to IronMag Labs, Panther Sports Nutrition and Infantry Labs, LLC. They have 15 working days to tell the FDA what corrective action they will take. Failure to do so could lead to enforcement action such as seizure, injunction or prosecution.
"We are extremely concerned about unscrupulous companies marketing body-building products with potentially dangerous ingredients. Body-building products that contain selective androgen receptor modulators, or SARMs, have not been approved by the FDA and are associated with serious safety concerns, including potential to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and life threatening reactions like liver damage," Donald Ashley, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.
"We will continue to take action against companies marketing these products to protect the public health," he added.
Consumers should stop using these body-building products immediately and see a health care professional if they have any problems that may be associated with their use, the FDA said.
Outbreak of Deadly Marburg Virus in Uganda
Uganda has declared an outbreak of deadly Marburg virus disease in the eastern part of the country.
The contagious virus is related to Ebola. As of Saturday, two confirmed cases, one probable case and two suspected cases have been reported in the Kween district, on the border with Kenya, a World Health Organization spokesman told CNN.
The confirmed and probable cases included two brothers and a sister. All three have died.
WHO is working with Ugandan health officials to contain the outbreak and has followed up with 135 people who were in contact with the patients, CNN reported.
"Marburg is a virus that is in the same family as Ebola, and it basically has very similar characteristics," according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America.
"So it spreads in blood and body fluids and thrives in areas in which people are not able to do effective infection control and take care of patients with appropriate personal protection equipment," Adalja told CNN.
'Potentially Irreversible' Effects of Climate Change Could Threaten Human Health Worldwide: Report
Heat waves, disease-spreading mosquitoes and weather disasters are among the many "unequivocal and potentially irreversible" effects of climate change already harming human health worldwide, a new report says.
It described climate change as a "threat multiplier" that does the greatest harm to the most vulnerable people, including those afflicted by poverty, inadequate housing, water scarcity and other serious challenges, according to the Washington Post.
The report published Monday in The Lancet medical journal was authored by 63 researchers from two dozen institutions around the world. The authors included climate scientists, ecologists, geographers, economists, engineers, mathematicians, political scientists and food, transportation and energy experts.
"We've been quite shocked and surprised by some of the results," said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London's Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, a project studying the association between climate change and public health, the Post reported.
The researchers described a number of health threats from climate change. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of vulnerable adults exposed to heat waves increased by 125 million. In 2015, the worst year on record, 175 million people faced heat waves.
Deaths from weather disasters such as floods storms are on the rise. Each year between 2007 and 2016 had an average of 300 weather disasters, a 46 percent increase from the years 1990 to 1999. Since 1990, weather disasters have caused more than 500,000 deaths, the Post reported.
Since the 1950s, there has been a 9 percent increase in the number of people who received potentially infectious bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito species, which spreads viruses such as Zika and dengue fever, according to The Lancet study.
It also said the number of people moving due to climate change has increased. For example, more than 3,500 Alaskan residents have been forced to relocate due to coastal erosion and melting permafrost, the Post reported.
The researchers also looked at how well the world is responding to climate change.
"The answer is, most of our indicators are headed in the wrong direction," according to Watts, the Post reported.
"Broadly, the world has not responded to climate change, and that lack of response has put lives at risk . . . The impacts we're experiencing today are already pretty bad. The things we're talking about in the future are potentially catastrophic," he said.
"If governments and the global health community do not learn from the past experiences of HIV/AIDS and the recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika viruses, another slow response will result in an irreversible and unacceptable cost to human health," the authors of the report wrote.
Obese People and Smokers Can't Have Non-Urgent Surgery: U.K. Health Committee
A U.K. health committee's proposal to ban obese people and smokers from non-urgent surgery for an indefinite amount of time is causing controversy.
The health committee for the county of Hertfordshire says the policy is to "to support patients whose health is at risk from smoking or being very overweight," CNN reported.
These patients will not be eligible for non-urgent surgery under the National Health Service until they "improve their health."
In order to qualify for surgery, patients with a body mass index (BMI -- an estimate of body fat based on height and weight) over 40 must reduce that number by 15 percent over nine months, while those with a BMI over 30 must achieve a 10 percent reduction over that that time, CNN reported.
Smokers will have to undergo testing to prove that they've gone eight weeks or more without a cigarette.
While other areas in the U.K. have implemented similar policies, patients can eventually get surgery if they are unable to lose weight or stop smoking. That's not the case in Hertfordshire, which is why the policy is opposed by the Royal College of Surgeons and other groups.
"Singling out patients in this way goes against the principles of the NHS," said Ian Eardley, senior vice president at the Royal College of Surgeons, CNN reported.
"This goes against clinical guidance and leaves patients waiting long periods of time in pain and discomfort. It can even lead to worse outcomes following surgery in some cases," he said.