Health Highlights: Feb. 6, 2012

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

Drug Slows Prostate Cancer Spread to Bone but Doesn't Extend Life: FDA

A drug called Xgeva slowed the spread of cancer to the bone in men with difficult-to-treat prostate cancer but did not extend life and caused significant side effects, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review posted online Monday.

The review was made public in advance of a Wednesday meeting of an FDA panel of outside experts who will consider whether to recommend approval of the injectable drug as a preventive measure for patients with recurring prostate cancer that poses a high risk of spreading to the bone, the Associated Press reported.

Xgeva, made by Amgen, is already approved for preventing fractures in cancerous bones. Under a different formulation called Prolia, the drug is also approved for osteoporosis.

The FDA review looked at an Amgen-conducted study that included 1,432 patients and found that Xgeva slowed the spread of cancer to the bone by about 4.2 months compared to placebo, the AP reported.

Five percent of patients taking the drug developed osteonecrosis of the jaw, in which the bone dies due to poor blood supply.


Norovirus Outbreak Hits Cruise Ship

The "Voyager of the Seas" cruise ship had to delay its departure from New Orleans Saturday after an outbreak of a stomach virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it did not know the number of passengers affected by norovirus on the Royal Caribbean Cruises ship, which was delayed for a couple of hours before leaving on a seven-day cruise, the Associated Press reported.

Norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhea and spreads rapidly when people are in close proximity.

According to WDSU-TV, about 200 passengers on the "Voyager of the Seas" became ill from the virus, the AP reported.

Two other outbreaks of illness aboard U.S.-based cruise ships were reported over the weekend.


Raw Milk Linked to Illness Outbreak

Raw milk from a dairy in Pennsylvania has been linked to 38 illnesses in four states and the farm has temporarily halted sales.

Health officials said 31 cases of campylobacter bacterial infection have occurred Pennsylvania, four in Maryland, two in West Virginia and one in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported.

Pennsylvania is one of 17 states were some types of raw milk sales are allowed, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Since 2006, Pennsylvania has had at least seven illness outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption, involving nearly 200 people, the AP reported.

Some people prefer unpasteurized milk because they feel it's healthier than pasteurized milk. However, the federal government says raw milk is unsafe because it may contain disease-causing germs.


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