HEALTH TIPS - Thursday, March 18, 2004
"News That Keeps You Healthy"


British scientists say they have found a way to add even more health benefits to cow's milk and butter. The research, reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, suggests feeding cows rapeseed oil as part of their daily diet produces milk with less saturated fat. Butter made from the milk is easier to spread at cold temperatures because it is lower in saturated fat than ordinary butter, says study co-author Anna Fearon. "This kind of tailored milk production could in future be applied to make any dairy product healthier, from cheese to ice cream," she said. 

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved Amgen Inc.'s Sensipar, an oral medication for patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis. Sensipar helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism, researchers said. This is a serious metabolic disorder characterized by an imbalance of parathyroid hormone, calcium and phosphorus, minerals vital to life and good bone health. The medicine also helps regulate calcium levels for patients with parathyroid carcinoma, a rare malignancy of the parathyroid glands that causes excess secretion of parathyroid hormone, researchers said.


Researchers have developed a new way to diagnose age-related macular degeneration. Scientists at Carl Zeiss Meditec of California say age-related macular degeneration, where blood vessels form irregularly in the back of the eye, causing the patient to see a big, black dot in his or her central vision, is the leading cause of blindness in the over-50 population.  The rate of the disease is expected to triple in the next 25 years as baby boomers age. Currently, the diagnostic test for all retinal diseases is the Amsler Grid, a piece of paper with a grid on it. The doctor has the patient look at the grid to determine if he or she sees wave lines. Then, the patient takes the grid home to see if more wavy lines appear. The problems is this technique is subjective, it relies on patient compliance and by the time the patient sees wavy lines, there is already physical damage and advanced disease. Carl Zeiss Meditech scientists are testing a tool for early detection of age-related macular degeneration. Food and Drug Administration review is expected to follow the report of the results within the next two months. The device already is sold in Israel.


The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines recommending children under 2 receive a flu shot. Dr. William Schaffner of The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says young healthy children are at high risk of being hospitalized for influenza infection. Therefore, the AAP recommends influenza immunization for healthy children between 6 and 24 months of age to prevent infection through household contacts and for all children younger than 2 who are cared for outside the home. The guidelines also call for healthcare professionals getting a yearly flu vaccine.  





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