Health Highlights: Sept. 13, 2008

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

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Approved to Combat Two Related Cancers

Gardasil, the vaccine used to guard against cervical cancer, has been approved for similar use against two more gynecological malignancies.

According to the Associated Press, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug, manufactured by Merck Pharmaceuticals, to guard against cancers that attack the vagina and vulva.

Gardasil fights most of the strains the papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. About 20 million Americans carry HPV, but not all of them develop cancer. About 5,000 women get vulva and vaginal cancer annually, according to the wire service.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Cervical Cancer Vaccine Approved to Combat Two Related Cancers
    • China Says Milk Powder Caused More than 400 Cases of Kidney Stones in Babies
    • Japan Has 36,000 Centenarians
    • Boss Gender Affects Worker Health
    • Brain Infection Kills Patient Who Took Rituxan
    • Children's Death Rates Remain High in Africa, South Asia

"Anytime we have evidence of additional cancer protection, that's a really important piece of information," the A.P. quotes Rick Haupt, Merick's executive director for HPV vaccines, as saying.

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China Says Milk Powder Caused More than 400 Cases of Kidney Stones in Babies

China's latest health problem was acknowledged Friday when its health minister said 432 babies had developed kidney stones from drinking a contaminated milk powder, the Associated Press reports.

At a news conference, Health Minister Gao Qiang said the chemical melamine had been found in the powder, the wire service reported. Melaminie is the same involved in the massive pet food recall last year, according to the wire service.

The production plant that makes the powder has been shut down, the A.P. said. The chemical had been added to increase protein content, but earlier information that it produced kidney stones had apparently been ignored by the manufacturer, according to wire reports.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning American consumers not to use any infant formula made in China. The warning came as China began a nationwide investigation into all its infant formula following the death of one baby and reports of more than 400 other babies being hospitalized with kidney stones.

The FDA said late Thursday that the China formulas are apparently suspected of being contaminated with melamine.

But Janice Oliver, deputy director of the FDA's food safety program, added that no U.S. formula manufacturer has received any ingredients from China, so "there is no threat of contamination to the domestic supply."

However, she said, "We're concerned that there may be some infant formula that may have gotten into the United States illegally and may be on the ethnic market." FDA officials are particularly concerned about places like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston, which have large populations of Chinese immigrants, the AP reported.

On Friday, the FDA issued a formal health advisory to caregivers not to give infants China-made formula.

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