Health Highlights: Dec. 18, 2007

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

FDA: Birth Control Chemical Won't Inhibit STDs

The chemical nonoxynol 9 (N9), used in many vaginal contraceptives and spermicidal products, does not protect users from infection from sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The agency said it mandated that all over-the-counter products containing N9 -- including contraceptive gels, foams, films, or inserts -- include the warning on their labels.

"FDA is issuing this final rule to correct misconceptions that the chemical N9 in these widely available stand-alone contraceptive products protects against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection," Dr. Janet Woodcock, the agency's deputy commissioner for scientific and medical programs, said in a prepared statement.

    • FDA: Birth Control Chemical Won't Inhibit STDs
    • Canada Confirms New Mad Cow Case
    • FDA Approves New Hypertension Drug
    • Taking Blood Pressure Pills at Night May Offer Benefits: Study
    • European Commission Approves Once-a-Day HIV Pill
    • Canadian Reactor Resumes Production of Medical Isotopes

The FDA warned that N9 can irritate the vagina and rectum, increasing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner. It also warned that people should not use any product containing N9 if the user or partner is infected with the AIDS virus.

"Consumers can protect themselves from the transmission of STDs and HIV by practicing abstinence, being in a monogamous relationship where neither partner is infected, and using condoms consistently and correctly," the FDA said.


Canada Confirms New Mad Cow Case

Canada has confirmed another case of mad cow disease, found in a 13-year-old animal from an Alberta farm. It's the 11th case of the disease in the country since the first case was discovered in May 2003, the Canadian Press reported.

The cow in this latest case was born before Canada implemented new feed controls in 1997. No part of the cow's carcass entered the human or animal food chains, said a news release on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Web site.

This new case of mad cow disease was identified by Canada's national monitoring program, which focuses on cattle most at risk. The program has tested about 190,000 cattle since 2003, the CP reported.

Canada's international standing as a country with a controlled risk for mad cow disease will not be affected by this new case, according to the food and inspection agency.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, mad cow disease (BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is a fatal disease that causes progressive neurological degeneration in cattle. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare disease that occurs in humans that's similar to mad cow. While it's not certain how mad cow-like disease may spread to humans, evidence indicates that humans may acquire it after consuming BSE-contaminated cattle products.


FDA Approves New Hypertension Drug

A new beta blocker called Bystolic (nebivolol) has been approved for treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

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