Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Reports Cite Caffeinated Energy Drink in Deaths
A highly-caffeinated energy drink called 5-Hour Energy may have
been involved in 13 deaths over the last four years, according to
reports submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Since 2009, the product has been cited in about 90 filings with
the FDA, according to agency records reviewed by
The New York Times. More than 30 of those filings involved
serious or life-threatening problems such as heart attacks,
convulsions and even a spontaneous abortion.
When an incident report is filed with FDA, it does not mean that
a product was responsible for, or in any way contributed to, a
death or injury.
The distributor of 5-Hour Energy is Living Essentials of
Farmington Hills, Mich. It is a unit of the product's producer,
Innovation Ventures. In a statement, Living Essentials said 5-Hour
Energy is safe when used as directed and that it is "unaware of any
deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy,"
Unlike most energy drinks that look like beverages, 5-Hour
Energy comes in a two-ounce bottle called a shot. The amount of
caffeine in each bottle is not disclosed by the company, but a
Consumer Reportsarticle said it was about 215
In comparison, an eight-ounce cup of coffee can contain between
100 and 150 milligrams of caffeine, according to
Energy drinks are becoming a major issue for the FDA. Last
month, the agency said it had received five fatality filings
mentioning the popular energy drink, Monster Energy. Since then,
producer Monster Beverage of Corona, Calif. has repeatedly stated
that its products are safe and were not the cause of any of the
health problems reported to the FDA.
Some lawmakers want the FDA to increase its regulation of energy
drinks and the New York State attorney general is investigating the
practices of several energy drink producers,
There is not enough scientific evidence to justify changes in
how it regulates caffeine or other ingredients in energy products,
according to the FDA.
The agency is looking into the death reports that cited 5-Hour
Energy, Daniel Fabricant, director of the FDA's division of dietary
supplement programs, told
While medical information in such reports could rule out a
connection with 5-Hour Energy, other reports could lack sufficient
information to determine what part, if any, a product might have
played in a death, Fabricant said.
States Prepare to Deal With Stoned Drivers
With recreational marijuana use soon to be legal in Washington
and Colorado, officials in the two states are trying to determine
how they'll deal with the issue of stoned drivers.
Colorado's measure legalizing marijuana does not make any
changes to the state's driving-under-the influence laws, which has
politicians and police worried about the impact on road safety, the
Washington's measure does change DUI laws by setting a new blood
test limit for marijuana. Police are training to enforce that
"We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon told the AP. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol."
While there are portable breath tests for alcohol, there's no
simple way to determine if a driver is impaired from recent
marijuana use. Tests for current marijuana impairment measure for
active THC in the blood, and those levels typically drop within
hours of marijuana use. THC is the psychoactive chemical in
While marijuana legalization activists agree that people should
not smoke marijuana and drive, there is disagreement about setting
a standard comparable to blood-alcohol limits, according to Betty
Aldworth, outreach director for Colorado's Campaign to Regulate
Marijuana Like Alcohol.
Currently, most convictions for drugged driving are based on
police observations, which are followed up by a blood test.
"There is not yet a consensus about the standard rate for THC impairment," Aldworth told the AP.
Birth Control a Human Right: U.N. Report
Access to birth control is a universal human right that could
significantly improve the lives of women and children in poor
countries, according to the United Nations Population Fund's annual
It's the first time the report has clearly described family
planning as a human right, and it said that legal, cultural and
financial barriers to birth control and other family planning
measures are infringements of women's rights, the
Increasing funding for family planning by $4.1 billion could
save $11.3 billion a year in health costs for mothers and newborns
in poor nations, the document said. The U.N. does not consider
abortion a family planning measure.
The report, released Wednesday, isn't binding on nations, the
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