Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Government to Put Product Safety Info Online

[Thank you Research Buzz!]

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) already informs the public about product safety through various means as product recalls.

As mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), it is currently working on making critical product safety information freely and quickly available to members of the public. will debut in March 2011. This database will share more information about dangerous products than in the past. It will be easily searchable and will allow consumers both to report problems with products and to research safety records for them.

(A presentation for CPSC employees on may be found here)

According to a November 24, 2010 CPSA statement, will include these elements

• The Database will function as an early warning system for dangerous and potentially dangerous products

by allowing members of the public to share information regarding product hazards as quickly as it is

available. This is a dramatic and positive change from the current system (under 15 U.S.C. §

2055(b)―commonly known as “section 6(b) procedure”), where the Commission is required to consult

with manufacturers before warning the public about critical product safety hazards, and seek their

approval before releasing the name of the potentially dangerous item.

• The Database will allow the CPSC to fully effectuate one of its core purposes: to assist consumers in

evaluating the comparative safety of consumer products. Until now, while the Commission has compiled

data from many sources, including consumers, hospital emergency rooms, coroners’ offices, and the

media, it has been statutorily constrained in its ability to release this information to the public in a timely


• Finally, the Database will enable the CPSC to effectively protect the public through the use of modern

technology. The CPSC is a hard-working, but very small independent agency, with jurisdiction over

thousands of product categories. While we have always collected safety data from multiple sources, the

data often has been siloed and difficult to unify. The Database is the public centerpiece of a

comprehensive, agency-wide undertaking that will result in a single, integrated, web-based environment,

allowing us to merge these systems, thereby significantly expanding the Commission’s effectiveness.

Accordingly, the Database will provide the public with access to consumer product safety information

and simultaneously enhance the CPSC’s ability to monitor the safety of products in the marketplace.

Click here for a related November 30th Kiplinger Letter article by Laura Kennedy. It outlines manufacturer concerns as well as the capabilities of

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Infidelity Might Be in the Genes

From the December 3, 2010 Health Day news item by Robert Preidt

FRIDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) — Genetics might help explain why some people are more prone to infidelity and promiscuity, says a new study.

Researchers analyzed the DNA of 181 young adults who provided a complete history of their sexual activity and intimate partnerships. They concluded that the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene plays a major role in sexual behavior.

Previous research has linked the DRD4 gene, which influences brain chemistry, to sensation-seeking activities such as gambling and alcohol use.

“What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” study leader Justin Garcia, of the laboratory of evolutionary anthropology and health at Binghamton University, State University of New York, said in a university news release.

“What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” study leader Justin Garcia, of the laboratory of evolutionary anthropology and health at Binghamton University, State University of New York, said in a university news release.

“The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward, which is where the release of dopamine comes in. In cases of uncommitted sex, the risks are high, the rewards substantial and the motivation variable — all elements that ensure a dopamine ‘rush,'” Garcia explained.

The findings, published in the current issue of the online journal PLoS One, shouldn’t be viewed as an excuse for cheating or promiscuity, Garcia stressed.

“These [gene-behavior] relationships are associative, which means that not everyone with the genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity. Indeed, many people without this genotype still have one-night stands and commit infidelity,” Garcia said. “The study merely suggests that a much higher proportion of those with this genetic type are likely to engage in these behaviors.”

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | Leave a comment

Uncertainty a huge source of anxiety in patients

From a December 3 Reuters Health news item by Fran Lowry

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (Reuters Health) – Uncertainty about a diagnosis causes more anxiety and can be more stressful than actually knowing that you have a serious illness, researchers reported here at the 2010 annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

“Once people have the diagnosis, they gain some understanding and control, but without it, all they have is anxiety, and they do not know how to handle it,” Dr. Elvira V. Lang, from Harvard Medical School, Boston, told Reuters Health. “It is important for physicians and others who work in the health care field to realize this and find ways to alleviate this anxiety and stress. Not only will they help patients, they will also be helping their institutions to provide more cost effective care.”…

We were very surprised to see that the women having breast biopsy were significantly more anxious than the women who came for treatment for malignant cancer and those who came for fibroids,” Lang said in an interview.

Health care professionals tend not to be aware that diagnostic tests can be stressful, she added.

The researchers recognize that for a woman awaiting breast biopsy, the fear of being diagnosed with cancer and uncertainty about what the outcome will be can create higher anxiety levels than even those experienced by patients undergoing a “much riskier and invasive treatment of a known cancer.”

“People in health care and also family members may judge what is minor or major by how much risk is involved. But that is not what the patient is experiencing. That is why we want to alert them,” Lang said.

There are simple ways to diffuse this anxiety prior to procedures, she added. “People want to make patients feel better but they use language that is not helpful. For instance, they will say ‘oh, it’s not going to be that bad’, or ‘it’s just going to be a little sting’, but using such vocabulary only increases anxiety and pain.”

Training health care providers to use the right language with patients about to undergo diagnostic procedures will not only reduce their anxiety levels, it will also save the health care system money, Lang added.

“Sometimes patients are so anxious they can’t complete a test….



December 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Overuse injury: How to prevent training injuries

[Editor Flahiff’s note…About two years ago I started working out at the Y, at age 53. Theses guidelines do work! at least they did for me. Mixing up the routine has kept me motivated. My weekly routine includes swimming, jogging, balance routines, and strength training. It has made a difference. After a few months, a co-worker commented I had color in my cheeks and didn’t look so ashen. While I will never be Ms. Olympia (or whatever the title for women weight lifter is) it is now easier to lift 20 pounds. ]

Excerpt from the Mayo Health clinic article

Most overuse injuries are avoidable. To prevent an overuse injury:

Address medical conditions. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new type of physical activity — especially if you have a medical condition that may predispose you to an overuse injury. You may need to correct imbalances in flexibility and strength or, if you’ve had a previous injury, work to restore range of motion, muscle strength and stability. Your doctor may offer tips to help make physical activity safe. If you have a muscle weakness in your hip, for example, your doctor may show you exercises to address the problem and prevent knee pain.

Use proper form and gear. Whether you’re starting a new type of physical activity or you’ve been playing a sport for a long time, consider taking lessons. Using the correct technique is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. Also make sure you wear proper shoes for the activity. Consider replacing your shoes for every 300 miles you walk or run, or — if you regularly exercise — at least twice a year.

Pace yourself. If you’re starting a new physical activity program, avoid becoming a weekend warrior. Compressing your physical activity for the week into two days can lead to an overuse injury. Instead, aim for at least two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week. Always take time to warm up before physical activity and cool down afterward. Also keep in mind that as you age, you may not be able to do the same activities that you did years ago. Consider ways to modify activities to suit your abilities.

Gradually increase your activity level. When changing your activity level or the amount of weight you’re using while strength training, keep it gradual — such as increases of no more than 10 percent each week until you reach your new goal.

Mix up your routine. Instead of focusing on one type of exercise, consider combining two or more types of physical activity, also known as cross-training. Doing a variety of low-impact activities — such as walking, biking, swimming and water jogging — in moderation can help prevent overuse injuries by allowing your body to use different muscle groups. Strive to include aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, core stability and balance training elements in your routine.

Additional Web sites
Sports Fitness (MedlinePlus) has links to recent news items, nutrition tips, specific condition information, organizations, and more
Physical Activity Online Resources (American College of Sports Medicine) has guidelines, handouts, position stands, and tailored information for women, youth, and seniors

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment