Health Highlights: Aug. 19, 2016

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

Genetic Test Results for Heart Problem Often Wrong in Blacks: Study

Black Americans are more likely than whites to have incorrect results on genetic tests for an inherited heart disorder that puts people at risk for sudden death, a new study says.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by mutations in certain genes and affects 1 in 500 people in the United States. More than 1,000 mutations are known to be linked to the condition, which often has no symptoms but can cause young people to pass out or even die while playing sports, The New York Times.

Genetic testing can identity people at risk and is often offered to family members of people with the disorder. But this study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that test results are more likely to be wrong in blacks than in whites.

That’s because previous research examining genetic traits and illness did not include enough members of minority groups to reveal differences between them and whites, or to get a full understanding of their risk of disease, The Times reported.

Blacks are more likely than whites to have mutations that earlier studies mistakenly linked with heart condition, study first author Arjun Manrai, a researcher in the department of biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School, explained.

Misdiagnosis can have significant consequences, including emotional stress and the cost and time of medical follow-up. Young athletes may be told to quit competitive sports and may even have devices implanted in their chest to prevent sudden death from abnormal heart rhythms, The Times reported.

The findings highlight a major problem that also applies to other diseases, including cancer, according to a scientist who wasn’t involved in the study.

“From the vantage point of one who sits on several federal advisory bodies in the field of genetics, the importance of more extensive genomic sequencing in diverse populations cannot be over-emphasized,” Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of the clinical genetics service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told The Times.


FDA Issues Safety Warning About Wen Hair Products

A safety warning about Wen hair products has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in response to thousands of consumer complaints.

The agency launched an investigation into the products after learning the company had received 21,000 complaints about hair loss, balding and rashes, CBS News reported.

The company said its products are safe and that it is cooperating with the FDA. “We have shared our formulations and ingredients with the FDA,” it claimed. “We … exceed the FDA’s requirements for cosmetic manufacturers and have always been transparent.”

But that’s not the FDA’s view. It said “the company … did not address safety concerns related to hair loss. We do not know if the company has other safety data, and we do not have the legal authority to require a cosmetics firm to provide product safety information,” CBS News reported.

The FDA has limited power to regulate the cosmetics industry.

Despite the safety warning, Wen products remain on store shelves, CBS News reported.

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