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Health Highlights: Oct. 6, 2011

Listeria Blamed for Woman's Miscarriage Pill to Prevent Grey Hair Raises Questions: Expert Vitamin D Levels Lowest in Fair-Skinned People

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

Listeria Blamed for Woman's Miscarriage

A listeria-contaminated cantaloupe is to blame for an Iowa woman's miscarriage, state health officials say.

It's Iowa's first reported case of illness associated with a multi-state listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes from a Colorado farm, the Associated Press reported.

The woman, who ate a cantaloupe bought at an Iowa store, has recovered from her illness, the Iowa State Department of Public Health said in a news release Wednesday.

All affected cantaloupes should now be off store shelves, but more illnesses may occur because it can take two months for symptoms to develop, said state medical director Dr. Patricia Quinn, the AP reported.


Pill to Prevent Grey Hair Raises Questions: Expert

There are many unanswered questions about a cosmetic company's efforts to create a pill to prevent grey hair, an expert says.

L'Oreal this week announced that it was developing a pill based on a fruit extract that mimics an enzyme called TRP-2. The enzyme, which isn't naturally present in hair follicles, helps make pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. The theory is that the presence of TRP-2 in hair could prevent it from going grey, ABC News reported.

But this approach to preventing grey hair is "really difficult to prove," said Dr. Jonathan Zippin, a dermatologist at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Some people never get grey hair, he noted. If they take the pill, there's no way researchers would know if it was the pill that prevented them from going grey.

Zippin also told ABC News that there are a number of potential concerns about a pill that alters pigment, particularly if it might affect a melanoma diagnosis by causing moles to appear atypical.


Vitamin D Levels Lowest in Fair-Skinned People

Fair-skinned people are more likely than others to have low levels of vitamin D, a new study finds.

A lack of vitamin D can increase the risk of heart disease and bone loss, and reduce the chances of surviving breast cancer, according to the U.K. researchers, CBS News reported.

The study found that 730 of 1,200 participants had below-normal levels of vitamin D and that fair-skinned people had the lowest levels. The study defined a normal level as 60nmol/L.

Exposure to sun triggers vitamin D production by the body. Supplements may help fair-skinned people boost their levels of the "sunshine" vitamin without running the risk of sun damage that can lead to skin cancer, the researchers suggested, CBS News reported.

The study was published in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Cancer Causes and Control.

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