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Australia Launches Warning Against Alcohol

On Tuesday, major alcohol brands in Australia initiated a voluntary health warning and printed it on their labels. The warning is directed on pregnant women and children. Australia is well-known for its binge-drinking culture.

DrinkWise said that beers, spirits, and wines will hold new labels; labels stating warnings against underage drinking and alcohol consumption among pregnant women. DrinkWise is an industry body that accounts for 80% of alcohol companies in Australia.

Trish Worth, DrinkWiser chair, said that they realize that the changes they are aiming for will not happen overnight. They, however, are hopeful to see a healthier Australian drinking culture. They added that this campaign may take up to ten years.

The new alcohol labels are launched voluntarily and were not mandated by the government. Many, however, see it as a pre-emptive strike due to a looming government crackdown on the tobacco industry.

Other than the new slogans – “kids and alcohol don’t mix” and “it is safest not to drink while pregnant” – they will also launch point-of-sale details regarding the health risks of drinking.

Many health experts, such as officials from the Australian Medical Association and the Cancer Council, said that the campaign is not enough to make a huge impact on drinkers. Mike Daube of the Public Health Association of Australia said that the problem is that the new labels only hold soft warnings and not specific health risks alcohol drinking causes.

Others, however, see the campaign as a stepping-stone towards a healthier drinking culture in Australia.


Posted in Featured News

California: The Car Theft Capital of America

According to the latest analysis of crime statics, the most number of car thefts take place in California. The National Insurance Crime Bureau announced on Tuesday that eight out of the ten cities with the highest car theft rates in the United States in 2011 are in California; including Sacramento and San Francisco, the state’s capital and most well-known tourist destination respectively.

The other California cities included in the top 10 list include Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Vallejo, and Visalia; with Fresno as the worst. On the other hand, the safest city for vehicle owners is State College in Pennsylvania.

A spokesperson from NICB said that one of the primary reasons why the car theft rate is extremely high in California is the fact that cars that are stolen there can easily be shipped to Asia or Mexico thru the ports in Long beach, Oakland, and Los Angeles. One other reason could be the local budget problems which push the state to cut back in police funds and prosecutors who specialize on car theft, the spokesperson added.

There is, however, some good news amidst this disheartening statistics – there is a 7.2 decrease in the national car theft rate. Joe Wehrle, NICB chief, said that the improved law enforcement and anti-car theft technology have significant effects on car thefts. He, however, added that professional criminals and gangs still give law enforcement officials, as well as car owners, a headache.



Posted in Featured News

Customer Agents of Air Canada Served Strike Notice

On Friday, the Union representing the ticketing and customer agents of Air Canada gave the administration their 72-hour notice of strike. They served it after the negotiations between two parties failed to agree on the terms of the new labor contract.

The CAW or the Canadian Auto Workers Union announced that all of their workers will walk out of their work at exactly 11:59 PM Easter Standard Time today (June 13, 2011) unless both parties come to a unilateral agreement before the said time. The CAW has more or less 3,800 members of Air Canada airport employees and call center agents across Canada.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union said in a statement that after ten weeks of negotiation with the administration, there are still major issues that is yet to be settled. These issues are said to be stopping progress in the negotiation. An example of those issues is the dramatic cuts to the employees’ pension plans.

Air Canada is the biggest airline in Canada and they carry thousands of people every day. The company said in a statement that they are continually negotiating with Canadian Auto Workers Union but has devised a back-up plan should all else fail. The company is confident that they have enough manpower to continue operations. They said they will try their best that none of their flights will be disrupted due to the strike.

Air Canada is currently on negotiation with five unions within its company including that of pilots and flight attendants. The negotiations started after the contracts expired beginning of this year.


Posted in Featured News

High Blood Pressure Drugs Not Linked to Cancer

Contrary to what a recent analysis has suggested, a class of medications well-known for the cure of high blood pressure does not increase the risk of cancer, United States health authorities said Thursday.

The class of drugs the announcement was referring to are the ARBs or the angiotensing-receptor blockers. Among the medicines in this classification are Iosartan (Cozaar, telmisartan (Micardis), candesartan (Atacand), and the very popular valsartan (Diovan).

The announcement came from the United States Food and Drug Administration declaring the drugs safe to use and will not, in any way, increase anyone’s risk of having cancer. Dr. Joseph Diamond of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, said that the data released by the FDA ease their minds because the data support what they already felt was true.

FDA started reviewing data following the appearance of a meta-analysis in the July 2010 issue of “The Lancet.” The meta-analysis suggested that patients who take ARBs have 10% more likelihood to acquire cancer.

Until the report was published July last year, there had been very minimal concern regarding the safety of the drugs. Diamond said that they have full confidence on the drugs as they have been around for many years. He added that a lot of doctors were sceptical when they first heard about the study.

Dr. Cheryl Laffer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, said that she and her colleagues were not a bit least concerned when the study was published; she, however, said that their patients were.

Diamond explained that ARBs are one of the most widely used drugs for high blood pressure patients. They may be used for patients with general hypertension, or those with other diseases like diabetes and kidney problems.

Posted in Featured News

HIV on the Rise in America

Federal health officials announced on Thursday that thanks to more powerful and reliable medications, more and more HIV-infected Americans are given the chance to live healthier and longer lives; that is despite the fact that HIV is still an epidemic with no known cure.

Based on a research, by the end of 2008, there were at least 1,000,000 United States residents who are infected with HIV. Unfortunately, 20% of them are unaware that they are living with the disease. Dr. Michael Kolber, director of the University of Mimi Miller School of Medicines’ Comprehensive AIDS Program, said that there is still an increasing prevalence of HIV.

Kolber added that we have gone a long way since AIDS was first discovered 30 years ago. Back then, he said, AIDS is considered a death sentence. Now, however, thanks to HIV-supressing medications it has become more of a chronic disease because of how antiretroviral drugs have proven to be effective.

Kolber, however, said that he is still alarmed with the growing number of people infected with HIV every day. He added that people can avoid getting the disease if they wanted to; we just need to be more cautious with our sexual activities. He also said that we need to identify patients infected with HIV because that is one of the best ways to avoid the spread of the disease.

CDC said that every year, around 50,000 people in the United States are newly infected with HIV. African-Americans only make up around 12% of the population with HIV, but they make up 50% of the new infections. Kolber added that the majority of them are from the lower socioeconomic status.

Posted in Featured News

Source of Deadly E. coli Outbreak Elusive

European health officials who have been tracking down the source of one of the worst outbreaks of E. coli admitted that they may never actually find a smoking gun. They said that it is an unfortunate fact when it comes to food poisoning.

The bacteria have already affected 1,500 people in Europe and most of them said that they ate tomatoes, lettuce, or cucumbers. However, health officials who have been testing produce all over the continent have not yet found any vegetable with a strain of E. coli.

Atty. Bill Marler, a lawyer specializing in food poisoning, said that the signs of the infection appear days after the food that has caused it has been thrown out. He, therefore, said that the trail gets vague very quickly.

Professor Paul Hunter from England’s University of East Anglia said that there is a pretty huge chance that we will not find where the outbreak originated. In fact, he pointed out that in most foodborne incidents, there are no definitive answers as to what specific food caused it.

The national health agency of Germany announced on Wednesday that at least 1,530 people there had been inflicted by the dreaded E. coli germ. To date, 17 have already died and 470 are suffering from a kidney failure (a complication of E. coli infection that used to be considered rare).

According to the European Food Safety Authority, they have very limited data on the presence of E. coli strains in Europe. They also admitted that the current surveillance systems across Europe are not yet well coordinated.

Posted in Featured News

Court Said Police Warrantless Search in a Marijuana Joint Legal

On Monday, the Supreme Court took the police officers’ side after arresting a Kentucky man without a warrant. The police apparently busted in to the man’s apartment after smelling marijuana. Fearing that the man might be getting rid of the evidence, police officers entered Hollis King’s apartment even without a warrant.

The Supreme Court ruled against Hollis King’s claims that his arrest – and all the pieces of evidence collected thereafter – is unconstitutional. In an 8-1 vote, the ruling of a Kentucky Supreme Court was reversed by the justices. The court said that King’s rights were in no way violated and that the police officers acted as they should. Only one of the justices, Justice Ruth Ginsburg, was in favor of King.

Justice Samuel Alito admitted that everyone has the right not to answer a knock on the door, let alone allow the police come in your home. In similar cases, police officers are required by the law to secure a warrant from the court. Alito, however, pointed out that it is an entirely different story for people who choose to destroy evidence.

Binsburg insisted that the other Justices gave police officers an excuse to regularly avoid securing warrants during drug cases. She added that from now on police officers are confident to knock on doors and break them down even though they have enough time to get a warrant.

Posted in Featured News

First Full Face Transplant Patient Shows His Face

The country’s first full face transplant patient made an appearance on Monday and said that the very first thing his daughter told him right after the operation was that he looked extremely handsome.

25-year-old Dallas Wiens joined his surgeons on Monday at the Bringham and Women’s Hospital for his first public appearance since his full face transplant in March. Wiens had a goatee and wore dark sunglasses during the interview. The young man had just survived a 15-hour procedure and is the first recipient of the full face transplant in the United States.

Wiens received new lips, nose, facial muscles, nerves, and skin from an undisclosed donor and yet, he said it feels natural. The entire costs for the operation were paid for by the U.S military with the hopes that the success of the operation will help the organization treat their soldiers with severe facial damage.

Wiens is not a soldier but his face was burned after he hit a power line in a church he was painting in November of 2008. He was also left blind after the accident.

Wiens’ face is still a little swollen when he faced a room-full of reporters and photographers but he said that his new face is amazing. He added that he easily adapted after the operation and he can now smell and breathe through his new nose again.

Bohdan Pomahac, the surgeon who operated Wiens, said that the operation went smoothly and the results came out better than what he had hoped for. Unfortunately, the damages on his face were so severe that the team of surgeons were not able to restore his sight and some of the sensation on his left cheek and forehead.

The hospital was given a $3.4 million research grant by the Department of Defense; enough to conduct full face transplants to four more patients.

Posted in Health

Low-cost Preterm Birth Drug Won’t Be Stopped by FDA

All pregnant mothers will still have access to cheap drugs that will prevent premature birth said federal health officials, Wednesday.

Since the $1,500 version of this drug was approved, it was unclear whether or not pregnant women will still be allowed to buy from specialty pharmacies that sell the drug for an average of $15.

Many people, doctors and pregnant women alike, reacted negatively on the drastic price increase on the drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally said, Wednesday, that specialty pharmacies can continue to make cheaper versions of the drug that decreases the risk for preterm labor as they did for the past few years.

Many doctors welcomed the concept of the new drug because they said it can assure quality control of the drug. They were, however, shocked by the price; they simply did not see it coming. FDA said that they do not have the authority to control drug prices.

KV Pharmaceutical Co., the government-approved exclusive distribution of the drug insisted that the price of the drug is justified considering the costs of caring for a prematurely born child. They further said that they will make sure everyone who needs the drug will gain access to it. The pharmaceutical company will make a statement on drug pricing within the week.

One month ago, KV Pharmaceutical sent letters to other pharmacies creating and selling the drug for a lower price, warning them to shut down operations or else they will face the FDA. FDA initially backed this letter but did otherwise, Wednesday.

The department, however, realized how upset the public became after hearing about the 1,500 dollar drug. FDA said, Wednesday, that under this unique situation they will not take actions against pharmacies in order to ensure accessibility of the said drug.

Posted in Featured News, Health