Health Highlights: May 8, 2013

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Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Wrigley Halts Sales of Caffeinated Gum

Wrigley Co. announced Wednesday that it will pull its new caffeinated gum off the market while the U. S. Food and Drug Administration investigates the safety of adding caffeine to food products.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods, said in a statement to the Associated Press that Wrigley's decision "demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health." Taylor added that the company had talks with the agency before making the announcement.

"After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply," Wrigley North America President Casey Keller said in a statement to the AP.

Keller told the wire service that production and sales of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, which has the equivalent of half a cup of coffee in each stick, will be suspended until the FDA can craft a way to regulate caffeine-added products. The agency had announced it would investigate the issue just as the gum was introduced to consumers last month.

Other food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years, according to the AP, and health organizations have questioned the safety of marketing caffeine products to children, who do not metabolize the stimulant the same way adults do.


New Genetic Prostate Cancer Test Available

A new genetic test to reveal the aggressiveness of prostate cancer goes on sale in the United States on Wednesday.

The Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score joins another genetic test called Prolaris that recently came on the market. Both analyze multiple genes in a prostate biopsy sample and give a score for cancer aggressiveness, the Associated Press reported.

The tests are meant to help men decide whether they need immediate treatment for their prostate cancer or if it can be safely monitored. The tests are similar to those used for certain breast and colon cancers.

The Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score test costs $3,820 while the Prolaris test costs $3,400, the AP reported.


Sleep-Deprived Students a Major Problem: Study

The United States has the highest percentage of students with sleep deprivation, which leads to lower classroom achievement, a new study says.

The Boston College researchers found that 73 percent of 9- and 10-year-olds and 80 percent of 13- and 14-year-olds in the U.S. are sleep-deprived. That compares with an international average of 47 percent of younger students and 57 percent of older students, BBC News reported.

Other countries with the highest number of sleep-deprived youngsters were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, England, Ireland, France and Finland. Students in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Japan and Malta were the least sleep-deprived.

The researchers found that sleep deprivation among students can be such a serious problem that lessons have to presented at a lower level in order to accommodate sleep-starved students. Sleep experts link students' sleep deprivation with the use of mobile phones and computers in bedrooms late at night, BBC News reported.


France Reports First Case of SARS-Like Virus

France has reported its first case of a person infected with a deadly SARS-like virus.

The virus was diagnosed in a 65-year-old man who returned to France after a trip to Dubai in mid-April. He is in intensive care in a hospital in the northern city of Douai, France's health ministry said Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

The new coronavirus was first detected in September 2012. Since then, 30 cases have been reported in different countries and 18 of the patients have died. Eleven of those deaths occurred in Saudi Arabia. Other cases have been reported in Jordan, Germany and Britain.

The new virus is called nCoV-EMC and is related to SARS, a severe respiratory illness that killed about 800 people worldwide during a pandemic 10 years ago. Like SARS, the new virus causes lung infection but, unlike SARS, it also causes rapid kidney failure, AFP reported.

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