By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
Bicycle helmets may prevent head injuries, but a newly published study has found there’s…
Bicycle helmets may prevent head injuries, but a newly published study has found there’s no evidence that mandatory helmet laws do the same thing.
“It is a bit counterintuitive that we don’t see an effect of helmet laws on head injuries,” said University of Toronto researcher Jessica Dennis, whose work was published Tuesday in the journal of the British Medical Association.
“But there’s so many other things going on at the same time a helmet law is passed that it’s really hard to say that helmet law was the reason head injuries decrease.”
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 2:38 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – For people seeking an energy boost, companies are increasing their offerings of…
WASHINGTON – For people seeking an energy boost, companies are increasing their offerings of foods with added caffeine. A new caffeinated gum may have gone too far.
The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it will investigate the safety of added caffeine and its effects on children and adolescents. The agency made the announcement just as Wrigley was rolling out Alert Energy Gum, a new product that includes as much caffeine as a half a cup of coffee in one piece and promises “the right energy, right now.”
Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods, indicated that the proliferation of new foods with caffeine added — especially the gum, which he equates to “four cups of coffee in your pocket” — may even prompt the FDA to look closer at the way all food ingredients are regulated.
The agency is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A Canadian study has confirmed that 400 international units of vitamin D…
TORONTO – A Canadian study has confirmed that 400 international units of vitamin D each day is sufficient to ensure an infant’s health.
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones, and it’s crucial that babies get enough during the first twelve months of life when bones are growing rapidly.
But recommendations about how much of the “sunshine vitamin” is needed to prevent rickets in infants vary widely around the world.
Health Canada recommends giving infants a supplement of 400 IUs daily, while the Canadian Paediatric Society advises raising that to 800 IUs during the winter.
But a McGill University study of 132 infants randomly chosen to receive different doses of vitamin D has found that 400 IUs is adequate and higher doses make no difference to bone health.
The study led by Prof. Hope Weiler is published in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“There’s sometimes a feeling that more is better,” Weiler said. “But until now, no one had compared the popularly recommended daily doses of vitamin D to see what will result in optimal health for infants, so we were very glad to be able to do this.”
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces the nutrient through the skin when exposed to sufficient sunlight, primarily from May through September when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.
By The Associated Press - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in the city under a proposal unveiled Monday to make it the most populous place in America to set the minimum age that high.
Extending a decade of moves to crack down on smoking in the nation’s largest city, the measure aims to stop young people from developing a habit that remains the leading preventable cause of death, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said as she announced the plan. Eighty per cent of the city’s smokers started lighting up before they were 21, officials say.
“The point here is to really address where smoking begins,” she said, flanked by colleagues and the city’s health commissioner. With support in the council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s backing, the proposal has the political ingredients to pass.
But it may face questions about its effectiveness and fairness. A retailers’ representative suggested the measure would simply drive younger smokers to neighbouring communities or corner-store cigarette sellers instead of city stores, while a smokers’ rights advocate called it “government paternalism at its worst.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Health Canada is planning to follow the lead of the United States…
OTTAWA – Health Canada is planning to follow the lead of the United States and ban the sale of small, powerful magnets which can cause serious internal problems if swallowed by children.
Last summer, the American Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of Buckyballs, powerful little “rare earth” magnets sold as toys and desktop accessories.
In another child-related move, Health Canada said it is looking at setting stricter standards for playpens.
It’s also announcing plans to work with the pharmaceutical industry on new standards for naming products to reduce the number of drugs with names that look or sound alike.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:26 AM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Subway riders, after being cautioned about smoking, sugar and teen…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Subway riders, after being cautioned about smoking, sugar and teen pregnancy, are getting a new message: Pass on the salt.
The city’s Department of Health launched an ad campaign Monday urging passengers to scrutinize the salt in packaged foods and choose those with less. The ad shows two loaves of bread and zooms in on the sodium line in their nutrition labels, showing that one loaf has more than twice the sodium of the other.
“Too much salt can lead to heart attack and stroke,” the ad warns.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, March 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – More than one in seven cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented…
TORONTO – More than one in seven cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented if all Canadians who are currently inactive were to start getting regular physical activity — even if it’s just taking brisk walks in 10-minute increments a few times a day, a new report suggests.
A report by the Ontario Brain Institute suggests regular physical activity can not only help people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias better manage their disease, but it also can significantly delay onset of dementia and even prevent it.
The report is based on a review of almost 900 studies from the last 50 years that examined the relationship between physical activity and Alzheimer’s — a disease that affects more than 500,000 Canadians and is predicted to hit a million-plus within a generation.
“This is the strongest evidence to date that physical activity makes a significant difference to the management and the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Donald Stuss, president and scientific director of the Ontario Brain Institute.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:40 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Drivers who talk on a cellphone — even one that’s hands-free —…
TORONTO – Drivers who talk on a cellphone — even one that’s hands-free — while executing a left-hand turn at an intersection could be putting themselves at serious risk, say neuroscientists who imaged the brain to see how it copes with competing tasks.
Making a left turn and phone-chatting at the same time “could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road,” said Tom Schweizer, director of neuroscience research at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Schweizer and his research team wanted to see how the brain deals with the often complex task of making a left turn at a busy intersection — where most serious traffic accidents occur — when coupled with a common distraction like conversing by cellphone.
Obseity in Canadian adults hits record high—including one third of the North and Maritimes’ population
By Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:33 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Obesity rates are at an all-time high, especially in certain parts of…
TORONTO – Obesity rates are at an all-time high, especially in certain parts of the country, say researchers, who have “mapped” the changes to illustrate how Canadians’ waistlines have expanded over time.
Overall, at least one-quarter of Canadian adults have a body mass index of 30 or greater that puts them in the obese category, concludes a study that provides a comprehensive look at rates across the country, complete with “obesity maps.”
“Our analysis shows that more Canadians are obese than ever before — on average, between one-fourth and one-third of Canadians are obese, depending on the region,” said principal author Carolyn Gotay of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.
The Maritimes and the two territories — Nunavut and the Northwest Territories — had the highest obesity rates between 2000 and 2011, with more than 30 per cent of the population in these regions estimated to be obese.
British Columbia had the lowest overall rates, but obesity still increased from less than 20 per cent to almost 25 per cent in that province. In Quebec, the rate stayed at about 24 per cent.
Gotay said mapping regional rates provides more than a decade of easy-to-use visual snapshots that should help researchers, policy makers and the public identify where investments are especially needed to fight the obesity epidemic.
“It seems to tell us that certain areas are definitely experiencing more heavy people,” she said from Vancouver. “In certain areas, the percentage of people who are obese is alarming and does have implications for health care costs and quality of life down the road.”
The effects of obesity are indeed expensive: in 2008, they were estimated to cost the Canadian economy $4.6 billion, up about 20 per cent from 2000.
Being obese can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, among them breast, prostate, colorectal and pancreatic tumours.
The study, published Wednesday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, used self-reported BMI data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which researchers adjusted to get more accurate obesity estimates. Over the 11-year study period, the researchers found the greatest increases occurred between 2000 and 2007.
Obesity expert Dr. Mark Tremblay, who was not involved in the study, said the maps give “a nice pictorial summary” of current obesity rates region by region, which is helpful in knowledge translation.
“You see across time that the colours get darker or more ominous, showing very effectively visually the transition that’s occurred in a rather short period of time,” he said Wednesday from Ottawa.
The two territories and the Maritime provinces have had long-standing problems with obesity among their population, said Tremblay, director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
“In the Maritimes, they also tend to be less active and less fit. We don’t see that same pattern for the North,” he said. “Those trends have been there for a while, so I guess what is concerning is that they’re not being resolved.”
In the 2011 annual Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, which Tremblay helped pen, the provinces and territories were given an overall C-minus grade for investment in public health promotion.
B.C. and Quebec led the pack in per-capita investment; Ontario was No. 3, though at a much lower level than the other two, and the fall-off in dollars spent on health promotion continued from there.
While Tremblay is not saying there is a cause and effect between more money spent on promoting a healthy lifestyle — including keeping trim with diet and exercise — and lower obesity rates, “its interesting that they align.”
Gotay hopes the study and obesity maps will encourage provinces and territories to look at their individual rates and come up with programs that target the factors that contribute to obesity within their own populations.
“So I think it helps us to see, and for those provinces it may give them an impetus to understand more about what’s going on with their people and develop programs that might be able to reverse these trends.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:04 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – A division of telecom giant Telus (TSX:T) is buying Ontario’s largest electronic…
MONTREAL – A division of telecom giant Telus (TSX:T) is buying Ontario’s largest electronic medical record business, increasing the number of paperless files and bringing more than 5,000 more doctors online.
Telus Health says it’s acquiring MD Practice Software, part of a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association, for an undisclosed price.
It says the move will bring the total number of doctors who use electronic medical records technology to 9,000 across the country.
Currently, the penetration rate of electronic medical records in Canada sits at roughly 56 per cent, compared with a rate of well over 90 per cent in some European countries, according to Telus Health president Paul Lepage.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A new study suggests that ex-smokers can gain a health status similar…
TORONTO – A new study suggests that ex-smokers can gain a health status similar to those of people their own age who never smoked — but the process takes time.
It suggests that women who quit catch up, healthwise, with non-smokers in about 10 years.
Though men’s health quality improves after five years, it takes 20 years before they reach the health quality status of similarly aged men who never smoked.
The authors say the findings underscore that there are real health benefits of quitting smoking.
The study is being published today in Health Reports, a Statistics Canada publication.
A second study published in the issue reports that current daily smokers have a 60 per cent higher risk of heart disease than people who never smoked.
The studies are based on data draw from the National Population Health Survey, which gathers information on the smoking status of Canadians every two years.
For the studies, the authors looked at nine cycles of data, covering the period from 1994-95 to 2010-11.
By Julia De Laurentiis Johnson - Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
Juice-only detoxes are a growing trend — much to the alarm of health practitioners
On day two of her three-day juice cleanse, Lindsay Grange cracked open a kale, celery and cucumber cocktail that smelled like a salad and looked like a swamp. With a sigh, she chugged it back. “I went through a period of too much prepackaged food and not enough sleep. I wanted to kick-start healthy habits and lose some weight,” says the 32-year-old, on what attracted her to a juice-only detox. She’s not alone: the start of the year finds bloggers and reporters turning their detox diaries into articles, and juice cleanses are this year’s choice. Celebrities like Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow have been photographed with designer bag in one hand and juice-cleanse bottle in the other. Salma Hayek’s company, Cooler Cleanse, delivers juice regimes across America.
Companies offering juice-only diets have been popping up across Canada, too. For about $50 a day, for three to seven days, businesses like Bava Juice in Calgary and the Juice Cleanse in Vancouver drop off bottles containing fruit, nut and vegetable juices on your doorstep, with promises to rest and detoxify the digestive system. Some, like Raw Raw in Burlington, Ont., and Total Cleanse in Toronto, claim they’ve had a 20 to 40 per cent jump in clients within the past 12 months. Continue…
By Michelle McQuigge - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Baby boomers may have dreams of spending their twilight years basking in…
TORONTO – Baby boomers may have dreams of spending their twilight years basking in the glow of good health, but a new poll suggests they’ll have to work much harder to make that vision a reality.
The findings come in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s annual report on the health of Canadians, which opted to focus on the habits of one of the country’s largest demographics.
The online survey found a noticeable disparity between people’s perceptions of their own health and the reality of their medical situation.
While 80 per cent of survey respondents described themselves as healthy, the poll found details of the participants’ health habits told a very different story.
Nearly 85 per cent of respondents did not eat the recommended number of fruits and vegetables per day, while more than 40 per cent fell short of ideal physical activity levels. A fifth of respondents described themselves as smokers, and 11 per cent suggested they were heavy drinkers. Continue…
By Julia Belluz - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 10:46 AM - 0 Comments
In 1972, a British microbiologist-turned-physiologist named John Yudkin came out with the book Pure, White and Deadly. In it, he asserted that the diet wrecker to watch for was neither fat, nor wheat, nor salt—but sugar. The consumption of sucrose, he wrote, was linked with coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and he wanted everyone to know, as the title of his book suggested, that sugar can kill.
But timing is everything, and Yudkin may have been a bit too early with the idea about sugar’s association with body weight. The fat hypothesis—or the view that consuming fat caused people to plump up—was the dominant diet theme of the day, according to the British Medical Journal, and the evidence behind Yudkin’s ideas wasn’t strong enough to fend off the messaging from the powerful sugar lobby. By the time the anti-sugar crusader died in 1995, his book was out of print, and his ideas, out of favour.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A team of researchers is questioning the findings of a highly publicized…
TORONTO – A team of researchers is questioning the findings of a highly publicized study that claimed bedside EEG testing showed evidence of conscious awareness in three patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.
That study, published two years ago in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet, was conducted by neuroscientist Adrian Owen, post-doctoral fellow Damian Cruse and colleagues at Western University’s Centre for Brain and Mind in London, Ont., in collaboration with Cambridge University in the U.K. and the University of Liege in Belgium.
Patients in a vegetative state, usually caused by a brain injury, appear awake but cannot communicate and seem to have no conscious awareness.
Owen’s team used an EEG, or electroencephalography, machine to look for awareness in 16 vegetative patients based on brain signals generated by two mental-imagery tasks they were asked to perform — making their right hand into a fist, followed by a separate request to wiggle their toes.
By Helen Branswell - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:19 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Health Canada has updated the labelling for commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs called…
TORONTO – Health Canada has updated the labelling for commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins to warn users they may be at a small increased risk of developing diabetes.
The department announced the change Thursday, 11 months after the Food and Drug Administration took similar action in the United States.
Toronto-based drug safety researcher Dr. David Juurlink questioned why it took Health Canada so much longer to act on this issue than the U.S. drug regulatory body.
“It’s not acceptable,” said Juurlink, a specialist in internal medicine and clinical pharmacology at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
“Canadians have a right to wonder why the agency tasked with protecting their health should act so much more slowly than its U.S. counterpart. And Health Canada should explain why.”
The Canadian Press put that question to Health Canada on Thursday. The department acknowledged receipt of the question but did not immediately provide an answer.
On Feb. 28, 2012, the FDA announced it had updated labels on statin drugs to include several additional risks associated with taking the drugs, including increases in blood sugar levels and the risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
In an advisory released Thursday, Health Canada said it has concluded, based on a review of all available data, that the risk of diabetes “appears to be mainly in patients with pre-existing risk factors for diabetes.”
It lists those risk factors as having high levels of glucose or triglycerides, being obese or having high blood pressure.
Juurlink said many people who use statins to control their cholesterol levels would have some of these risk factors.
“When it comes to keeping the public abreast of drug safety issues relevant to millions of patients, there is no justification for a delay of close to a year,” he said.
Health Canada said it believes the benefits of the medication still outweigh its risks, but it recommended that doctors carefully monitor the use of statins by patients who have diabetes risk factors.
As for people taking the drugs, the department said users who have concerns should talk with their doctors. It said people should not stop taking the drugs without consulting a health-care professional.
People who take a statin and who experience symptoms associated with increased blood sugar — severe frequent urination, thirst or hunger — should contact their doctor, the department said.
Six statin drugs are currently marketed in Canada: atorvastatin (sold under the brand name Lipitor and its generics), lovastatin (Mevacor and generics), rosuvastatin (Crestor and generics), simvastatin (Zocor and generics), pravastatin (Pravachol and generics) and fluvastatin (Lescol and generics).
By Shanda Deziel - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM - 0 Comments
There’s more evidence that the flu vaccine may be the way to go, as…
There’s more evidence that the flu vaccine may be the way to go, as a New York Times blog today reports that some researchers believe that the nasal spray variety specifically will decrease the chance of ear infections in children.
While ear infections can happen during any season, they seem to spike during the cold and flu season. Infections of the nose or sinus can travel through the upper respiratory tract, which is directly linked to the middle ear.
Most children will experience at least one ear infection by the age of 8, and 25 per cent have chronic infections.
In a study of 24,000 children between the ages of six months and seven years, cases of ear infections were dramatically less in the children who received the FluMist vaccine over the placebo. And of the children who still contracted the flu, the ones who had taken FluMist had fewer ear infections.
This type of nasal spray vaccine, which was approved in Canada two years ago, seems to be more effective in children than the standard shot.
Of course, the flu vaccine isn’t just for kids. After all, new research shows that Canadians can cut their risk of getting sick enough for medical attention by getting the flu shot.
By Blog of Lists - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
The number of days per year the average worker called in sick, or took the day off for personal reasons, by province:
1. Saskatchewan: 11 days missed
2. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec (tie): 10.8 days missed
3. Newfoundland and Manitoba (tie): 10.2 days missed
4. P.E.I. and B.C. (tie): 9.9 days missed
5. Ontario: 8.3 days missed
6. Alberta: 7.9 days missed
Source: Statistics Canada (2011)
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By The Canadian Press - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:12 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A growing number of Canadian children with chronic illnesses are being treated…
TORONTO – A growing number of Canadian children with chronic illnesses are being treated with complementary medicine, researchers say, but parents don’t always tell doctors they are using the alternative therapies.
Yet informing health-care providers about vitamins, herbal and homeopathic remedies is important because in some cases they can adversely interact with traditional medications, the researchers say.
In a survey of parents having their children treated at two Canadian pediatric hospitals, researchers found that alternative medicines and such therapies as massage and chiropractic were commonly used.
At Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, 71 per cent of parents surveyed said they treated their kids with complementary medicine, while 42 per cent of parents attending the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa reported their use.
By Sue Allan - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 7:49 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Not all patient drug trials published in even the most prestigious of…
TORONTO – Not all patient drug trials published in even the most prestigious of medical journals can be taken as gospel, say researchers, who have found a high proportion of “spin and bias” in the reporting of results.
Researchers at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre reviewed 164 breast cancer trials. They found that in studies that reported no real benefit of treatment, a large proportion focused on less important outcomes to give a more positive spin to results.
Of 92 trials that had negative primary outcomes, about 60 per cent used some secondary measures, “often trying to make the study look positive, though it really was not,” said medical oncologist Dr. Ian Tannock, who led the study published this week in the Annals of Oncology.
“Sometimes studies that are basically negative studies are a little bit dressed up to look as though they may be positive,” Tannock said Wednesday. “It’s like the politicians. Trying to make things look better than they are.”
By Emily Senger - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
Being slightly overweight might not be so bad for your health and could actually…
Being slightly overweight might not be so bad for your health and could actually lead to a longer lifespan, says a new study that is already creating controversy.
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Jan. 2 used previous research to compare the death rates of healthy weight, overweight and obese individuals. In the three million patients included, the study found that individuals who were considered overweight had slightly lower mortality rates that people who were in what is considered to be a healthy weight range (a body mass index of between 18.5-24.9).
Being “overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality,” the study says.
The study didn’t make any health recommendations based on its findings, but lead researcher Katherine M. Flegal told the Los Angeles Times that the study does pose more questions: “I think we should be open-minded and ask, ‘OK, what could be helpful about fat?’”
Other experts are already weighing in, saying that the study was flawed because other obese people had already died younger and may not have been included in the study.
Thin people included in the study could also have other underlying health problems, University of Texas professor Donald Berry told BBC News. “Some portion of those thin people are actually sick, and sick people tend to die sooner,” he said.
By The Associated Press - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 7:20 AM - 0 Comments
SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean government agency said Friday that working at…
SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean government agency said Friday that working at a Samsung Electronics factory caused the breast cancer of a worker who died earlier this year, only the second time it has recognized a link between cancer and Samsung’s chip plants.
The Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service, which is part of the labour ministry, ruled earlier this month that there was a “considerable causal relationship” between the woman’s cancer and her five years of work at a semiconductor plant near Seoul. The ruling didn’t become public until Friday when the agency announced compensation for the woman’s family.
Samsung spokesman James Chung said it will not appeal the government’s decision. The company is the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips.
By Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – All Dr. David Butler-Jones saw was a glow of light. And then…
OTTAWA – All Dr. David Butler-Jones saw was a glow of light. And then strange things started happening.
At first, he thought it was a migraine coming on. But soon, Canada’s chief public health officer realized that it was more than just a headache.
He was having a stroke.
Butler-Jones, dubbed Canada’s top doctor in his role as head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, has been recovering since he was stricken in mid-May. It’s been a difficult struggle.
From the outset, he was his own worst enemy. Being a doctor, Butler-Jones said he started to self-diagnose.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Eating a grapefruit or drinking its juice can be a great way…
TORONTO – Eating a grapefruit or drinking its juice can be a great way to get vitamin C, but it can also be dangerous when taking certain prescription drugs.
A study says grapefruit juice can interact with more than 85 oral medications, with almost 45 of them leading to severe, even deadly, consequences.
Pharmacologist David Bailey of Western University in London, Ont., says adverse effects can include sudden death, acute kidney or respiratory failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Bailey says medications affected by grapefruit include cholesterol-lowering statins, some heart drugs, and certain anti-psychotic and pain medicines.
Grapefruit contains a chemical that interferes with an enzyme that controls how drugs are absorbed through the intestines, resulting in a potentially toxic dose of medication.
Other citrus fruits that contain the chemical to some degree include limes, pomelos and Seville oranges, which are often used in marmalade.
“Many of the drugs that interact with grapefruit are highly prescribed and are essential for the treatment of important or common medical conditions,” says Bailey, lead author of the study in Monday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Health Canada has lifted its hold on Novartis flu vaccines, saying they are safe to use.
TORONTO – Health Canada has lifted its hold on Novartis flu vaccines, saying they are safe to use.
Provinces and territories that have bought Novartis vaccines for this year’s flu shot campaigns can now resume use of the products, the department said in a statement.
The decision follows a risk assessment conducted by Health Canada, using information gathered from European regulatory agencies and the company.
“None of the information reviewed indicated a safety issue,” Health Canada said in the statement.
The Novartis vaccines, sold here under the brand name Fluad and Agriflu, make up a total of 20 per cent of Canada’s combined flu vaccine purchase this year. GlaxoSmithKline has the lion’s share of the national purchase, 57 per cent. Sanofi Pasteur and AstraZeneca make up the rest, with 20 per cent and three per cent respectively.
The statement said Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will work with Novartis to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. “Should a safety concern be identified, immediate and appropriate action will be taken,” it said.
The decision to clear the Novartis vaccines for use means provinces like Saskatchewan that have had to cancel flu clinics will be able to resume their normal flu vaccination efforts. Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island received most of their vaccine this year from Novartis.
Health Canada issued a halt-use order on the Novartis vaccines last Friday after several European countries stopped using Fluad and Agrippal, the name Agriflu is sold under in Europe.
The situation started when Novartis told the Italian regulatory agency that it had found a higher-than-normal level of protein aggregates in one batch of vaccine made at its plant in Siena, Italy. Protein aggregates are tiny bits of the killed influenza viruses that are used to make flu vaccine.
A Novartis senior executive said the company held back the affected lot and looked for but didn’t find the problem in other batches made at the Italian facility. The Novartis vaccine that Canada buys is made at the Siena plant.
Normally the viral proteins in flu vaccine are in a suspension and are not visible to the naked eye. But from time to time they fall out of suspension and can be seen.
It is not uncommon, nor is it a sign that there is something wrong with the vaccine, Dr. Vas Narasimhan, the global head of vaccines development for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, told The Canadian Press in an interview Tuesday.
“There are no contaminants in the vaccine,” Narasimhan insisted. “These aggregates are formed by proteins that are expected to be in the vaccine, predominantly hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, which are the two antigens that we’re using to stimulate the immune response.”
Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase are proteins that sit on the outer shell of a flu virus. Flu vaccines are designed to induce antibodies to these proteins so that if an immunized person comes in contact with influenza, those antibodies should kick into gear to prevent infection.
Narasimhan said so far this season an estimated two million doses of the vaccines have been administered and there have been no signs of unexpected adverse events associated with their use.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising people who administer flu shots to allow the vaccine to come to room temperature before use. They also say the products should be shaken and checked for any white floating material before they are injected, though they added that material is not uncommon and doesn’t pose a health risk.