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Today's Health Highlights: Jan. 10, 2002

Aspirin Is a Life-Saver ... LiterallyCanada Moves to Recall EphedraThose Bad Sprouts Are BackHeartburn Drug May Ease Eating Disorder Lawsuit Claims Arizona Mismanages Water

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

Aspirin Is a Life-Saver ... Literally

If your heart is bad and you're not taking aspirin regularly, you could be risking your life.

According to a HealthDay story, failure to prescribe aspirin to people at high risk of heart attack and stroke is costing tens of thousands of lives each year.

Analysis of 287 trials including more than 200,000 patients shows that giving aspirin to people with chronic conditions such as angina, peripheral artery disease and diabetes could save 40,000 lives a year, 12,000 of them in the United States, says a report in the Jan. 12 British Medical Journal.


Canada Moves to Recall Ephedra

While U.S. officials still ponder how to bring the controversial diet drug Ephedra under control, Canada has gone ahead and asked for a recall.

Wire service reports say Health Canada has asked for a voluntary recall of a number of over-the-counter drugs containing the herb ephedrine, which tests have shown speed up the heart rate, sometimes to dangerous levels. Or as the Canadian health agency put it: Ephedra in large amounts poses "a serious risk to health."

Health Canada has also asked that customs officials keep products with ephedrine out of the country. Since last June, Health Canada says there have been 60 reports of a number of Ephedra-related problems, including strokes, seizures and heart attacks.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has been trying to bring ephedrine products under some sort of control since 1997, but pro-ephedrine groups have offered strong resistance.


Those Bad Sprouts Are Back

New warnings have come about a familiar subject-- alfalfa sprouts that may contain dangerous microbes.

MSNBC is reporting a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning that raw sprouts, which are popular on sandwiches, could be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria.

The latest alert is the result of an outbreak in the West last year that affected more than 30 people in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. A CDC investigation concluded that the salmonella came from raw alfalfa sprouts.

CDC officials urge people to wash the sprouts thoroughly and then cook them before eating them.


Heartburn Drug May Ease Eating Disorder Complication

A family of potent heartburn drugs may help prevent deadly metabolic complications in patients with severe anorexia or bulimia, HealthDay reports today.

According to a Japanese researchers, a stomach acid-reducing drug called lansoprazole has been found to correct imbalances in electrolytes vital molecules, such as sodium and potassium, that result from the vomiting and starvation that occur in people with eating disorders.

The researchers say a "very high percentage" of patients develop an electrolyte imbalance, which is the principal cause of death associated with eating disorders.

The report appears as a research letter in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


Lawsuit Claims Arizona Mismanages Water

A Tucson-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit against Arizona authorities, claiming that the state's water resources have been poorly managed, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit, filed by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, claims that the state's groundwater supply has left underground aquifers depleted and has damaged rivers, streams and other water sources.

Major waterways such as the Upper San Pedro, Santa Cruz and Verde rivers, as well as wildlife near the rivers, have sustained damage because of the mismanagement, claims the lawsuit.

State water officials had no comment.

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