Health Highlights: Aug. 9, 2007

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

FDA Warns of Red Yeast Rice Products Sold to Control Cholesterol

Consumers should not buy or eat three red yeast rice products promoted and sold on Web sites as dietary supplements for treating high cholesterol. The products may contain an unauthorized drug that could cause muscle weakness, leading to kidney damage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The products are Red Yeast Rice and Red Yeast Rice/Policosonal Complex, sold by Swanson Healthcare Products Inc., and manufactured by Nature's Value Inc. and Kabco Inc., respectively; and Cholestrix, sold by Sunburst Biorganics. FDA testing revealed that the products contain lovastatin, the active ingredient in Mevacor, a prescription drug approved for treating high cholesterol, the FDA said in a prepared statement.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • FDA Warns of Red Yeast Rice Products Sold to Control Cholesterol
    • Study Suggests Fewer U.S. Workers Using Cocaine
    • Smokeless Tobacco Increases Exposure to Carcinogens
    • Stress Linked to Periodontal Disease
    • President Bush in Good Health
    • Peter Pan Peanut Butter Back in U.S. Stores
    • Export Ban Placed on Two Chinese Toy Makers

"This risk is even more serious because consumers may not know the side effects associated with lovastatin and the fact that it can adversely interact with other medications," said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The FDA said it has sent warning letters to Swanson and Sunburst Biorganics, asking them to stop selling the products. The letters state that the products, sold on the firms' Web sites, are unapproved drugs that are marketed in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA is advising consumers to consult their doctor if they experience problems that may be due to the products. The agency also asks consumers to report problems with the products to MedWatch, the FDA's voluntary reporting program: www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm; 800-332-1088; Fax: 800-332-0178; and MedWatch, Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Md., 20852-9787.

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Study Suggests Fewer U.S. Workers Using Cocaine

There was a 15.9 percent decline in positive test results for cocaine use among American workers during the first six months of 2007 compared to 2006, according a report released Thursday by Quest Diagnostics.

The highest declines occurred in New England and in an area that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

The rate of positive cocaine tests is at it lowest level since Quest, which conducts workplace drug testing, started reporting on cocaine rates a decade ago, said Barry Sample, director of science and technology for the Employer Solutions division of Quest.

"While it is too soon to point to a trend, the significant decline in positivity rates in different workforce categories and across regions may suggest that our nation's workers are choosing not to use cocaine or that they lack access to the drug," Sample said in a prepared statement.

"These data are encouraging," said John Walters, director of U.S. National Drug Control Policy.

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Smokeless Tobacco Increases Exposure to Carcinogens

Compared to smokers, users of smokeless tobacco (oral snuff) are exposed to higher amounts of cancer-causing nitrosamines, says a University of Minnesota Cancer Center study.

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