Health Highlights: Dec. 1, 2004
Anti-Aging Docs Among Botulism Victims in Fla. Botox Case More Older Drivers Dying in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Crashes FDA Panel Urges Approval of Childhood Leukemia Drug Marijuana Use Increases Risk of Psychosis Rocket Fuel Found in Several Foods World AIDS Day Focusing on Women
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Anti-Aging Doctors Among Botulism Victims in Fla. Botox Case
Two of the four people who fell ill after getting what authorities suspect to be illegal Botox injections in Florida are doctors who promote anti-aging therapies to their patients, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.
Bath McComb, 47, and Eric Kaplan, 52, received a potentially lethal dose of botulism poisoning, probably from a knockoff of Botox, the popular anti-wrinkle injections, according to the newspaper. The other two victims were McComb's girlfriend and Kaplan's wife.
Both men also have run into trouble with the law. McComb, who is recovering in a New Jersey hospital, is an osteopathic physician who lost his license last year and is scheduled to face trial on charges that he ran a "pill mill" in Sarasota, according to the Herald account.
Kaplan is a chiropractor and the author of Dr. Kaplan's Lifestyles of the Fit and Famous. His license was revoked in 2002 over a paperwork issue. Kaplan was in critical but stable condition at the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, the newspaper reported.
Test results aren't finished yet, so authorities can't say for sure whether the four were actually suffering from botulism poisoning. Botox is made from the botulism toxin. Botox's maker, Allergan Inc., told the Herald that in the last year it shipped only one vial, enough for two people, to the clinic in Oakland Park where the injections took place.
More Older Drivers Dying in Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Crashes
The number of motorcycle riders killed in crashes involving alcohol has dropped in the last 20 years, but researchers have noticed a trend not seen in automobile accidents: Those who die are likelier to be older, not younger.
The highest rate of death among impaired riders shifted from those aged 20 to 24 years in 1983 to those aged 40 to 44 years in 2003. In 1983, 8.2 percent of fatally-injured impaired riders were 40 or older. By 2003, riders 40 and older accounted for 48.2 percent of fatally-injured impaired riders, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in its publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Because older riders involved in fatal crashes are more likely to be impaired than younger riders, future programs to reduce impaired driving among motorcyclists should target older riders, the study suggested.
Overall, the study found that motorcycle death rates declined from 1.6 per 100,000 riders in 1983 to 0.9 per 100,000 in 1993, and climbed to 1.2 per 100,000 in 2003. The rate of motorcyclist involvement in fatal crashes is 35.0 per 100 million miles of travel, compared to 1.7 per 100 million miles of travel in cars.
FDA Panel Urges Approval of Childhood Leukemia Drug
Clolar, a new drug to treat childhood leukemia, should receive government approval, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Wednesday.
The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee urged the agency to OK the use of Clolar to treat children from age 1 to 21 who have refractory or relapsed acute leukemias and have run out of other treatment options, the Associated Press reported.
But the committee didn't recommend approval of Clolar to treat acute myelogenous leukemia. More proof was required of the drug's clinical benefit in such cases, the panel said.
The FDA isn't bound to heed the recommendation of the advisory panel, but typically follows the panel's recommendations.
Clolar is made by Ilex Products, Inc.
Marijuana Use Increases Risk of Psychosis
People who are frequent users of marijuana during their teens and early adulthood may have an increased risk of developing psychosis later in life, says a Dutch study in the British Medical Journal.
The study included 2,437 people aged 14 to 24 who were monitored by University of Maastricht researchers for four years. The study found that those who used marijuana had a moderately increased risk of psychotic symptoms. That risk was much greater among people with a predisposition for psychosis, BBC News Online reported.
Lead researcher Professor Jim van Os urged people with a family or personal history of mental frailty to stay away from marijuana.
It's believed that marijuana disrupts levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that controls mood.
"[The study] gives support to the emerging understanding that a predisposition to psychosis combined with the early abuse of cannabis has an increased likelihood of triggering a psychotic illness," Dinah Morley of the charity Young Minds, told the BBC.
Rocket Fuel Found in Several Foods
Traces of rocket fuel have turned up in several foods examined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including organic milk, iceberg lettuce, and bottled water, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
What isn't clear, however, is how much of the chemical perchlorate it takes to pose a threat to people, federal officials told the wire service.
Of the various foods tested, the highest concentrations -- 71.6 parts per billion (ppb) -- were found in iceberg lettuce grown in Belle Glade, Fla. Red lettuce grown in El Centro, Calif., had 52 ppb., while Maryland-processed organic milk had 11.3 ppb. Smaller amounts were found in bottled water from Texas and California.
Asked whether these levels should be worrisome, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman told the wire service, "The answer is, we don't know yet."
Government scientists have been trying since the early 1990s to determine what levels of perchlorate may be safe, the AP reported. In a statement on its Web site, where the findings are posted, the FDA said consumers shouldn't change their eating habits based on the findings.
In sufficient quantities, perchlorate is known to cause thyroid problems, the wire service said.
World AIDS Day Focusing on Women
AIDS is spreading faster among women than men in most parts of the world, the United Nations said Wednesday in its annual report marking World AIDS Day. Females now make up 47 percent of new AIDS cases, according to an account from the Voice of America.
In Southern Africa, almost 60 percent of infected adults are women. And in the Caribbean, young women are twice as likely as men of the same age to become infected. In the United States, 72 percent of women infected with the AIDS-causing HIV virus are black, the Voice of America said.
Experts say women are at greater risk since it is biologically easier for them to become infected. And for cultural reasons in many societies, women lack the power to demand that their partners use protection, the Voice of America said.
Worldwide, some 39 million people are infected with HIV, up from 37 million two years ago. An estimated 3 million people have died this year of AIDS-related complications, and 5 million more have become infected, the U.N. report said.
While Southern Africa has more than 60 percent of the world's AIDS cases, followed by the Caribbean, the area with the most explosive growth appears to be East Asia, the report said. HIV infections have increased there by 50 percent over the past two years.