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Sen. Schumer wants healthier fast-food trash

New York, NY — Fast-food wrappers and other disposables made with phthalates, a chemical banned in other products, should now be investigated for negative public health effects, according to New York’s very own U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer.


In a July 30th letter to new commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Sen. Schumer called on the FDA to study the consequences of using phthalates in food packaging.


“The studies are clear: the link between these chemicals does have an impact on the body, and not a very good one,” Schumer said in a statement. “That is why I am asking the FDA to launch a formal investigation into the fast food products that wrap our burgers.”


Studies cited by Schumer in his letter have linked phthalates to thyroid and insulin issues in youth.  Others have also shown that Americans who frequently consume fast food have higher levels of phthalates in their bodies than those who rarely eat fast food.  And a 2013 study by New York University found a link between “high levels of phthalates and increased insulin resistance in young adolescents,” Schumer also said.


Feds to Big Tobacco: Cut it out!

Washington, D.C. — Federal officials with the FDA announced July 28 that they want tobacco companies to eventually manufacture all cigarettes with new and non-addictively low levels of nicotine.


In announcing its call for Big Tobacco to cut cigarettes’ nicotine content down to levels where they’d no longer be addictive, the FDA also said it would encourage smokers to switch to less-dangerous e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.


Digital health innovators welcome at FDA pilot program

Washington, D.C. — In late July, the FDA announced a pilot program that could lead to a “pre-certification” for digital health startups. 


The new “Pre-Cert for Software Pilot Program” is designed to help medical software start-ups fast-track approvals for new products that might help patients in innovative new ways.  Up to nine companies will be allowed to sign up.


Heart doctor editorializes against statin drug “denial”

Cleveland, OH — A July 24 editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine lambasted skeptics of statins, the common cholesterol-lowering drugs, calling them “an Internet-driven cult with deadly consequences.”


The editorial was penned by Cleveland Clinic chairman of cardiovascular medicine Dr. Steven Nissen.  It was published along a new study finding that people on statins are less likely to die from or suffer heart attacks or strokes than those not (or formerly) on statins.


Much of the concern over statins revolves around their most common side effect, with some 20 percent of statin-takers reporting muscles aches.  Other “fringe views” popularized by the Internet, according to Dr. Nissen, are associations between statins and diabetes or dementia.


Most side effects associated with statins are minor and can be addressed by adjusting the dose or switching to another type of statin, Dr. Nissen said.