metal in my maki!
NEW YORK CITY
Bluefin tuna from 20 sushi bars in New
York City tested so high in mercury that a 70kg man
should eat no more than six pieces every three weeks.
Five of the restaurants had levels so high (over 1.4
parts per million) the FDA could take legal action.
Canned tuna and fish sold in food stores contain much
lower levels than that that sold as sushi, which comes
from much larger fish who live longer and whose bodies
accumulate more of the deadly metal.
plants under threat
Hundreds of medicinal plants are at risk of extinction,
largely due to human activities that threaten the very
species more than half of prescription drugs are derived
from, researchers from Botanic Gardens Conservation
International reported in a global study released last
month. The endangered plants include magnolias, Hoodia
and the Yew tree, from which the cancer drug paclitaxel
is made. Overcollection and deforestation may also destroy
potential cures "before they are ever found."
help may hurt heart
Calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack
and stroke in healthy postmenopausal women, according
to a University of Auckland study published January
15 in the British Medical Journal. Of the 1,471
healthy postmenopausal women with a mean age of 74,
there were heart attacks among 36 women in the calcium
group of 732 and 22 similar events in the 721 women
receiving a placebo. Researchers caution that the risk
of vascular event must be weighed against the benefits
of increased bone density.
torture flick hits screens
US orthopedic surgeon Mark R Brinker has branched out
from his trauma and reconstructive work now he's
trying his hand at screenwriting. His first credit,
Untraceable, an internet crime thriller starring
Diane Lane, was just released in the US. It's getting
mixed reviews (the venerable New York Post calls
it "a putrid little scab of a torture movie") but he's
already at work on a horror flick called Fatal Frame.
studies shock MDs
Contrary to what many believe and often
employ, intensive insulin therapy and hydrocortisone
don't help, and may even harm, severe sepsis cases,
according to the results of two clinical trials published
in NEJM January 10, one from Germany and one
from Israel. Hydrocortisone sped up septic shock reversal
in some patients but didn't affect four-week mortality
rates, and intensive insulin therapy actually made patients
worse off by causing hypoglycemia.
switches blood types
An Australian teenager on immunosuppressants since a
liver transplant six years ago has become the world's
first person to switch blood types. An NEJM report
published January 24 said Demi-Lee Brennan, 15, was
type O negative before the transplant but the new liver's
blood stem cells invaded her bone marrow and changed
her blood to type O positive. Doctors have called the
case a "one-in-six-billion miracle" and now want to
try to replicate the phenomenon.
the pill OTC: Lancet
Oral contraceptives are so beneficial that they should
be sold over-the-counter, urged the journal The Lancet
in a January 26 editorial. The commentary accompanied
a new systematic review published in the same issue
that proved oral contraceptive use reduces lifetime
ovarian cancer risk by up to 29%, preventing 100,000
deaths. "Very little is said in the press about the
health benefits," wrote the editorialist. "A strong
message about the overall cancer preventing benefits
of oral contraceptives would be a positive public-health
benefits in question
Simvastatin work just as well as the cholesterol
combination therapy of ezetimibe plus simvastatin
and even better on some measures according to
surprising new data released in January by Merck/Schering-Plough.
Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen called the
results "stunning." In response to the uproar, the US
Food and Drug Administration announced it will conduct
a review of the combo therapy. The American Heart Association,
however, insists the data are too limited to draw a