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Jul 10, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- FDA OK'S WEST NILE TEST
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first test to diagnosis West Nile virus infection. The West Nile Virus IgM Capture ELISA works by detecting the levels of the antibody IgM in a patient's blood. The antibody can be found within the first days of the illness. The FDA says the test was evaluated in more than 1,000 patients at four clinical sites. It correctly identified the antibody in from 90 percent to 99 percent of West Nile virus cases. Spread by mosquitos, West Nile is most prevalent from July to the end of October.
NEW TRANS FATTY ACIDS LABEL HELPS CONSUMERS
Nutrition labels soon will include amounts of trans fatty acids contained in packaged foods to help Americans make healthy food choices. The Food and Drug Administration's new requirement should help millions of people in their battle to lower their cholesterol, says the American Dietetic Association. ADA spokeswoman Cindy Moore says trans fatty acids act like saturated fats and tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. "You don't need trans fatty acids for normal health," Moore says. Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fats, are found naturally in small quantities in some foods, including beef, pork, lamb, butter and milk. But most come from hydrogenated foods. Oils are hydrogenated to give a more desirable quality to food or make foods last longer.
WATCH CHOLESTEROL RATIO
Researchers say the ratio of "bad" to "good" cholesterol, not just individual levels of cholesterol, is a better predictor of heart disease. The ratio of low density lipoprotein or LDL -- the bad cholesterol -- to high density lipoprotein or HDL -- the good cholesterol -- and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL appear to be better predictors of heart disease risk than LDL levels alone, according to a study from the New York Harbor VA and the New York University School of Medicine. Individuals who have similar ratios have similar risk for heart disease, regardless of any differences in their LDL or total cholesterol levels, the researchers say. Those with higher ratios have significantly greater risk of heart disease than those with lower ratios. Almost half of all patients with coronary heart disease have normal LDL levels but could have low levels of HDL, resulting in a high LDL/HDL ratio, the study found.
TAKE IT EASY ON THE GUM
Chewing gum can reduce stress but researchers say excessive chewing can lead to jaw problems. Dr. Douglas P. Sinn of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas says aggressive gum chewing can tire the jaws and cause muscle fatigue, muscle spasms and pain. It also can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, a disorder that causes pain in the head or neck and makes it difficult to open the mouth normally. "The more stressed a patient is, the more they chew the gum," Sinn says. "They become more and more tired -- it's a vicious cycle."
(Editors: For more information about WEST NILE, contact the FDA at (301) 827-6242. For TRANS FATTY ACIDS, Lori Ferme at (312) 899-4802 or email@example.com. For CHOLESTEROL, Jennifer Choi at (212) 404-3555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For CHEWING GUM, call the UT Southwestern Office of News and Publications at (214) 648-3404)
Copyright 2003 by United Press International.