Health Highlights: May 24, 2008

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

New York City Man Dies After Taking Aphrodisiac Made from Toad Venom

An illegal aphrodisiac sold on the street under a variety of names has killed a 35-year-old New York City man, prompting health officials to issue an alert.

According to the Associated Press, the man, who officials did not identify, was admitted to a New York City hospital earlier this month complaining of pain in his chest and abdomen. Health officials were able to determine he had taken a poisonous substance that comes in a hard, brown form, and is known as Love Stone, Jamaican Stone, Black Stone and Chinese Rock.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • New York City Man Dies After Taking Aphrodisiac Made from Toad Venom
    • Truckers, Bus Drivers Can't Take Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix
    • Everlasting Jelly Candles Pose Fire, Burn Hazards
    • Health Canada Warns About Male Sexual Performance Aid
    • Americans Lack Awareness of Osteoporosis Risk: Survey
    • Paint Chemical Linked to Male Fertility Problems

It is sold in many New York City neighborhoods in neighborhood stores, the A.P. reports, and the writing on the package is usually in a foreign language.

The warning from New York City's top dangerous substances officer was pointed: "There is no definitely safe way to use it," Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of the city's poison control center, told the wire service. "Don't buy it. Don't sell it. If you have it, don't use it. Throw it out."

Some people eat the substance, the A.P. reports, instead of applying it to the skin, as it is intended to be used. But even external application can be dangerous. The active ingredient comes from the venom of toads of the Bufo genus, and it can disrupt the heartbeat, the wire service says.

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Truckers, Bus Drivers Can't Take Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix

Examiners shouldn't give commercial motor vehicle license clearance to anyone currently using the anti-smoking drug Chantix, says the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees the interstate trucking and bus industries.

The FMCSA announcement Thursday came a day after the Federal Aviation Administration banned the use of the drug by pilots and air traffic controllers.

The agencies took action in response to an Institute for Safe Medication Practices study saying that Chantix may be linked to seizures, dizziness, heart rhythm problems, diabetes and more than 100 accidents, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The non-profit group's study said the drug was linked to 988 serious incidents in the last quarter of 2007 alone. After the study was released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation alerted its agencies and instructed office directors to read the study's warnings and recommendations.

Last year, warnings on Chantix's label were updated to include depression and suicidal thoughts. The FDA hasn't announced any new action in response to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices study, the Journal reported.

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Everlasting Jelly Candles Pose Fire, Burn Hazards

Additional incidents of minor fires and burn injuries have prompted a repeat of an earlier recall of about 1,700 Everlasting Jelly candles sold at Spa at Home stores and online, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.

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