Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Morning Drill: August 3, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

Government still seeking source of tainted turkey
Consumers looking for answers about a salmonella outbreak linked to ground turkey will have to continue to wait as the government investigates the source of at least 76 illnesses and one death.

The Agriculture Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are still looking for a source of the outbreak, which dates back to March. The Minnesota-based meat company, Cargill, said Tuesday that it has been contacted by the USDA as part of the investigation and is working with the department. Cargill has not been named as the culprit.

Another large, Minnesota-based producer of ground turkey, Hormel, said it had not been contacted by the USDA about the current investigation.

California state health officials said Tuesday that the one death was in Sacramento County. Seventy-six people in 26 states have been made sick from the same strain of the disease.

The illnesses date back to March, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that cultures of ground turkey from four retail locations between March 7 and June 27 showed contamination with the same strain of salmonella, though those samples were not specifically linked to the illnesses. The agency said preliminary information showed that three of those samples have been linked to the same production establishment but it did not name the retailers or the manufacturers.

The lack of information so far from government officials may be attributed to USDA rules that make it harder to investigate and recall salmonella-tainted poultry. Because salmonella is common in poultry, it is not illegal for meat to be tainted with the pathogen. Officials must directly link the salmonella illnesses with a certain producer or establishment, which is difficult to do because people don't always remember what they ate or where they bought it.

In this case, it appears that officials haven't been able to prove the link between the samples of salmonella they found — even though they are the same strain — and the 77 people who were sickened. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service sent out an alert about the illnesses late last week telling consumers to properly cook their turkey, which can decrease the chances of salmonella poisoning. But the department has not given consumers any further warnings about the source of the tainted meat.
Study questions link between oral diseases and cancer
Research has shown that infection and inflammation play a role in 15% to 20% of all cancers, and that "highly prevalent" oral diseases are "significantly linked" to some types of cancer. But a literature review in Oral Diseases (accepted for publication July 4, 2011) found that evidence remains weak and that further studies are needed before cancer can be added to the list of diseases caused by oral infections.

Inflammation has been linked to the development of cancer, and infections that trigger inflammatory processes have been proposed as major preventable causes of cancer, wrote the study authors from the University of Helsinki in Finland and Complutense University of Madrid.

Oral infections may trigger malignant transformations in tissues of the oral cavity and other organs, they noted.

"Poor oral hygiene is associated with oral cancer, but there is also evidence of a possible link between oral or dental infections and malignancies in general," the authors wrote.

However, the diversity of oral microbiota makes it difficult to determine whether specific oral microbial species are directly linked to systemic diseases such as cancer (Oral Diseases, March 2010, Vol. 16:2, pp. 136-145).

Iphone App to Detect Malignant Moles
MelApp was released last month by Health Discovery Corporation. It’s a new iPhone app to assess the risk of melanoma.  MelApp is not meant to replace dermatologists, but it should be an easy-to-use help in the early detection of melanoma. It uses the ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter and Evolution) assessment to analyze the picture.

However, it’s not the first app for the assessment of skin lesions. Earlier this year a similar app, Skinscan for iOS was released for $4.99  by Cronian Labs from Romania. MelApp costs three dollars less at $1.99 and is currently available only for iOS. It seems like fair price for an early warning, if you turn out to be the one who gets sent to the doctor.

High-Dose Zinc Lozenges May Reduce Duration of Cold Symptoms

High-dose, but not low-dose, zinc lozenges shorten the duration of the common cold, according to the results of a meta-analysis reported in the July issue of The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

"A number of controlled trials have examined the effect of zinc lozenges on the common cold but the findings have diverged," writes Harri Hemilä, from the Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, in Helsinki, Finland. "The purpose of this study was to examine whether the total daily dose of zinc might explain part of the variation in the results."

To identify placebo-controlled trials assessing the effect of zinc lozenges on common cold duration, Dr. Hemilä searched MEDLINE, Scopus, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases. All of the identified trials were analyzed together, and the low-dose zinc and high-dose zinc trials were analyzed separately. The Fisher method was used to combine the P values of the trials, and the inverse-variance method allowed pooling of trial data.

The literature search identified 13 placebo-controlled comparisons evaluating the therapeutic effect of zinc lozenges on the duration of common cold episodes of natural origin. The 5 trials using a total daily zinc dose of less than 75 mg found no effect on common cold duration, whereas pooled data from 3 trials using zinc acetate in daily doses exceeding 75 mg showed a 42% reduction in the duration of colds (95% confidence interval [CI], 35% - 48%). The remaining 5 trials used zinc salts other than acetate in daily doses exceeding 75 mg, and pooled analysis of these data showed a 20% reduction in the duration of colds (95% CI, 12% - 28%).

"This study shows strong evidence that the zinc lozenge effect on common cold duration is heterogeneous so that benefit is observed with high doses of zinc but not with low doses," Dr. Hemilä writes. "The effects of zinc lozenges should be further studied to determine the optimal lozenge compositions and treatment strategies."
Enjoy your morning!

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