Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

FDA staff say calcitonin salmon cancer risk appears plausible 2013-03-01T162332Z_2_BRE9200MB_RTROPTC_0_US-FDA-CALCITONIN.XML () -

Melatonin no help for late-stage cancer weight loss

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite encouraging results in the past, melatonin pills did nothing to help advanced cancer patients eat more or stave off weight loss in a new clinical trial. "We had great enthusiasm for it also based on these other trials, and were quite disappointed when it didn't work," lead author Dr. Egidio Del Fabbro told Reuters Health.

Germany discovers toxin in animal fodder

BERLIN (Reuters) - German authorities said on Friday they had found high levels of a toxin in animal fodder that was produced from maize imported from Serbia, but played down a possible risk to human health. The discovery of aflatoxin in the shipment coincided with increased concerns over food industry safety amid Europe's horse meat scandal and this week's news that Germany is investigating possible large-scale fraud by organic egg producers.

Iowa ends mandatory testing of milk for toxic byproduct aflatoxin

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Iowa has dropped a requirement that all milk received in the state be tested for aflatoxin, the toxic byproduct of a mold that attacks corn during a drought, the state's agriculture department said Friday. Aflatoxin was more prevalent than usual in the 2012 corn harvest, which was hit by the biggest drought in the grain belt in 50 years. The worst outbreak appeared to have occurred just south of Iowa, the top corn producer.

Food labels often missing potassium content

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Most packaged food labels don't list the amount of potassium the foods contain, according to a new study by New York City health workers. That's concerning, researchers said, both because many health-conscious people want to make sure they're getting plenty of potassium, and some others - including those with impaired kidneys - have to restrict how much of it they consume.

Tests find horsemeat in Taco Bell UK ground beef

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's food regulator said on Friday that testing had found horsemeat in ground beef at Taco Bell UK fast-food outlets, a discovery that puts new pressure on parent Yum Brands Inc <YUM.N>, which is grappling with a food safety scare in China. Taco Bell said the horsemeat issue is isolated to its UK market, where the Mexican-inspired chain has just three restaurants, and that it will step up testing of its beef.

Program increases contraceptive use in at-risk teens

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Long after completing an 18-month program designed to teach about contraception and healthy relationships, teenage girls at high risk for unwanted pregnancy were using contraceptives more often and maintaining other safer sexual practices, according to a new study. Researchers in Minnesota tested an approach to preventing teen pregnancies that is based on providing access to birth control methods and information as well as building girls' sense of connectedness to family and society.

EU approves Novartis drug for gout

ZURICH (Reuters) - The European Commission has approved Novartis' <NOVN.VX> drug Ilaris for patients with an often painful form of inflammatory arthritis, the drugmaker said on Friday. Novartis said the EU had approved the drug also known as ACZ885 for patients with acute gouty arthritis who could not tolerate other treatment options.

WHO, Islamic leaders summit to stop polio worker attacks

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Top World Health Organization officials and Islamic leaders will meet in Egypt next week in an effort to stop attacks on polio workers, which are hampering the eradication of the virus in some countries with large Muslim populations. "Shooting health workers who are protecting kids from this crippling disease is against the Koran and everything Islam stands for," WHO's Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward told Reuters in Canberra said on Friday.

Facebook, Google tech gurus to design cancer research game

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists from a British cancer charity are teaming up with technology gurus from the likes of Amazon, Facebook <FB.O> and Google <GOOG.O> to design and develop a mobile game aimed at speeding the search for new cancer drugs. The project, led by the charity Cancer Research UK, should mean that anyone with a smart phone and five minutes to spare will be able to investigate vital scientific data at the same time as playing a mobile game.