Check in with us as we feature the latest trends, research and news in medicine, health and science. A team of Star Tribune staffers will aggregate updates from news wires, websites, magazines and medical journals.

Chicken blamed for salmonella cases in Minnesota

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: October 23, 2014 - 2:01 PM

Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breast has been linked to six recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota. 

The chicken entree, sold at many grocery store chains, is frozen, breaded, pre-browned and stuffed, but raw. The suspected brand has a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamped code of P-1358. 

Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture linked six cases of salmonella infection from August and September to the same strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person was hospitalized. About 700 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in Minnesota.   

Six outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to these types of products from 1998 through 2008. This is the first outbreak since improvements were made in 2008 to the labeling of these products. The current labels clearly state that the product is raw. All raw poultry products need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Consumers can find more information about safe food-handling practices on the MDH website,

Drinking soda speeds up aging, study shows

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: October 20, 2014 - 11:46 AM

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks — but it may also speed up your body’s aging process.

As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisc, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from about 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate — and so, the body ages.

“We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight,” said psychiatry professor Elissa Epel, senior author of the study.

According to the research, drinking a 20-ounce bubbly beverage every day is linked to 4.6 years of additional aging. You get the same effect by smoking, said UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, lead author of the study. About 21 percent in the sample said they drank at least that much soda each day. However, researchers say, a link does not mean causation.

Scientists found no link between cell aging and drinking diet sodas or fruit juices. But Epel said the results might be different with more modern data.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.


HIV spikes are shown in action

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: October 9, 2014 - 12:57 PM

Using powerful microscopes, scientists have observed the weaponry of HIV in action and gained key insights that may finally allow researchers to create a vaccine capable of fighting the virus that causes AIDS.

The sophisticated imaging technology employs lasers and fluorescent dyes to examine molecules 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The resulting view of the infamous protein spikes that stud the surface of HIV sheds new light on how the virus evades and attacks key immune cells.

Scientists even videotaped the structures as they changed shape in what researchers described as a rapid, unending "dance." They also observed how a class of rare, super-potent antibodies collected from AIDS patients can halt this dance by locking the structures into a harmless position. Once frozen in place, the spikes were unable to initiate entry into host cells.

The findings, published in the journals Nature and Science, provide crucial insights into the behavior of HIV, experts said.

--Los Angeles Times

Increasing skirt size linked to breast cancer risk

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: September 25, 2014 - 1:33 PM

If you want to minimize your chances of developing breast cancer, staying the same skirt size over the years might help, a new study suggests.

"Our study has shown that an increase of one size every 10 years between 25 and postmenopausal age [over 60] is associated with an increase of breast cancer [risk] in postmenopausal women by 33 percent," said lead researcher Dr. Usha Menon, head of the Gynecological Cancer Research Center at University College London.

The findings are based on information from nearly 93,000 women enrolled in a British database for cancer screening. When the women entered the study between 2005 and 2010, all were over age 50. None had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

At age 25, the women's average skirt size had been an 8. When they entered the study, at the average age of 64, the average size was a 10. Three out of four women reported increased skirt sizes.

The risk of breast cancer increased 77 percent if the skirt size went up two sizes every 10 years from 25 until women were past menopause, Menon said.

Put another way, for each size increase every 10 years, the five-year risk of developing breast cancer after menopause rose from one in 61 to one in 51, Menon estimated.

The study is published online Sept. 24 in BMJ Open.

Read more from WebMD.

The trouble with toothpaste microbeads

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: September 19, 2014 - 10:56 AM

Dentists are becoming increasingly alarmed that tiny plastic beads in many toothpaste brands can cause dental hygiene problems.

Polyethylene plastic beads are in many products -- toothpastes, face washes and body scrubs. And the Food and Drug Administration says they're safe.

But the beads are not biodegradable, and dentists are concerned that they're getting stuck in the tiny crevices between the teeth and gums.

"They’ll trap bacteria in the gums which leads to gingivitis, and over time that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth, and that becomes periodontal disease," dentist Justin Phillip told Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV. "Periodontal disease is scary.”

Crest said the beads are used only to provide color to toothpaste.

Months ago, Texas-based dental hygienist Trish Walraven sounded the alarm on her personal blog about the harm she has seen done to her patients -- and even her children. She urged her patients to stop using the products.

Crest said it has begun phasing out microbeads from its products, a process that will be completed by March 2016.

Read more from Washington Post.


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