Tuesday, 14 February 2012 09:14

Health Highlights: Feb. 14, 2012

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

Traces of Lead Found in 400 Lipsticks: FDA Analysis

In news that is sure to dampen the spirit of romance on Valentine's Day, an analysis from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that 400 of the most popular lipsticks in the United States contain traces of lead.

The lipsticks involved are made by major cosmetic firms, and include such widely known brands as L'Oreal, Maybelline and Cover Girl, according to the analysis. The results confirm an earlier review, but on a greater scale and at higher lead levels, the Washington Post reported.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer group, has been pushing for limits on lead levels in lipsticks for years but the FDA has balked, saying the levels detected do not pose a safety risk to women, the Post reported.

"Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities," the agency said on its website. "The lead levels we found are within the limits recommended by other public health authorities for lead in cosmetics, including lipstick."

Products sampled in 2010 had average concentrations of 1.11 parts per million, close to the average of 1.07 parts per million in a smaller survey the FDA conducted in 2007, according to the agency website.


Research Reveals How Aspirin May Slow Cancer's Spread

New research reveals how aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications might slow the spread of cancer.

Although this effect has been known by scientists, the biological mechanisms were not understood, Fox News reported Tuesday. The breakthrough research, reported in the Feb. 14 issue of Cancer Cell, was conducted by experts at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Study co-author Tara Karnezis told Fox News that tumors secret proteins and compounds called growth factors, which draw blood and lymphatic vessels to the tumor that enable its spread.

"But a group of drugs reverse the widening of the supply line and make it hard for the tumor to spread -- at the end of the day that's what kills people," Karnezis told Fox News. "This discovery unlocks a range of potentially powerful new therapies to target this pathway in lymphatic vessels, effectively tightening a tumor's supply lines and restricting the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body."


Female Sexual Enhancement Supplement Recalled

A female sexual enhancement supplement called RegenArouse is being recalled after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis of the product confirmed the presence of tadalafil, a drug (brand name Cialis) used to treat male erectile dysfunction.

The presence of tadalafil makes RegenArouse an unapproved drug that may pose a threat to consumers because it may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels, the FDA said.

People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrates.

The nationwide recall is for RegenArouse, lot number 130100, a pink capsule sold individually in foil packets, expiration date 12/5/2013, UPC code 816860010079. The product was sold over the Internet to consumers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico between Nov. 29, 2011 and Feb. 10, 2012.

Consumers with the recalled product should return any unused product to Regeneca Inc. for an exchange or full refund, the FDA said.


Rare Brain Disease Strikes Two People in California

Two cases of a rare and fatal brain disease are being investigated by the Marin County Department of Public Health in California.

One woman is dead and another sick after developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The two cases are thought to be unrelated, ABC News reported.

"We have no evidence that suggests a causal linkage between the suspect cases nor is there any evidence to suggest a risk in [the] food supply," the health department said in a statement.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease occurs in about one in a million people each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cause in most cases is unknown, but a small number of cases are inherited, ABC News reported.

Some cases -- called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- are linked to mad cow disease. That's been ruled out in one of the Marin County cases and officials suspect the second case is also unrelated to mad cow disease.


Immune Cells Use Unique Method to Fight HIV: Study

Some types of immune cells resist HIV by denying the AIDS-causing virus the building blocks of life, according to a new study.

Because viruses cannot replicate on their own, they have to take over other cells and use them to produce new viruses, BBC News reported.

The international team of researchers found that some immune system cells destroy their own raw materials in order to stop HIV. The study appears in the journal Nature Immunology.

Experts said it's not clear whether this type of defense could be harnessed for HIV therapy, BBC News reported.