Health Highlights: June 19, 2008

They're calling for an immediate halt to the tests and an investigation, ABC News reported.

"Nearly 40 suicides and more than 400 incidents of suicidal behavior have been linked to Chantix, yet the [Veteran's Administration] has chosen to continue the study and administer Chantix to veterans with PTSD," said Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA). "The VA must immediately suspend this study until a comprehensive review of the safety of the protocol is conducted."

"Our nation's veterans are not guinea pigs," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "It is unacceptable for even one veteran to have been misled about the possible side effects of Chantix."

The VA says the ABC News/Washington Post report about the study is "inaccurate and misleading."

"In our PTSD and smoking cessation study, our research is to learn if it is easier to stop smoking when smoking cessation treatment is combined with PTSD therapy, or whether the two therapies are more effective if they are provided separately," said a statement posted on the VA Web site, ABC News reported.

"In either case, patients are receiving treatment recommended by their own doctors using counselling with or without FDA approved medication that includes Varenicline (Chantix). Participation in this program is voluntary, and all participants are closely monitored clinically by mental health professionals who provide smoking cessation methods patients agree to use," the statement said.

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Scientists Renew Old Muscles

U.S. scientists say they've found a way to renew old and tired muscles, and their research could lead to new treatments for age-related degenerative diseases, BBC News reported.

The University of California, Berkeley team was able to adjust biochemical signals in old mice to increase the ability of the rodents' stem cells to repair damaged muscle tissue almost as well as it occurs in young mice.

The findings appear in the journal Nature.

"We are one step closer to having a point of intervention where we can rejuvenate the body's own stem cells so we don't have to suffer from some of the debilitating diseases associated with aging," said researcher Dr. Morgan Carlson, BBC News reported.

The key is to find the right balance between the biochemical pathway that promotes healing and that which promotes aging, said lead researcher Dr. Irina Conboy.

"We need to find out what the levels of these chemicals are in the young so we can calibrate the system when we're older. If we can do that, we could rejuvenate tissue repair for a very long time," Conboy said.

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Baby Bottle Makers Sued Over Bisphenol A Use

Five baby bottle makers are facing a lawsuit over their use of the chemical bisphenol A, the Associated Press reported.

In the suit filed last week in U.S. District Court, four Ohio parents allege the companies knew that bisphenol A was associated with health problems. The lawsuit cites scientific studies that concluded the chemical seeped from plastic bottles and sippy-cups into liquid.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.

The five companies named in the lawsuit are: Ohio-based Evenflo; Illinois-based Avent America Inc.; Missouri-based Handicraft Co.; Connecticut-based Playtex Products Inc; and the Swiss company Gerber Novartis, the AP reported.

Company spokespeople either refused comment or weren't immediately available to return calls from the AP.

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