On April 17, 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration released a safety alert that warned of the further use of power morcellators in laparoscopic(minimally invasive) surgeries, such as myomectomy, or the removal of uterine fibroids (also called myoma), and hysterectomy, which is removal of the womb or uterus. This alert is based on reports that power morcellators can cause the spread of minced or divided (morcellated) tissue on the abdominal structures and organs, which can result to: fibroids, adenomyosis and endometriosis (adenomyosis is a condition wherein the inner linings of the uterus or womb would protrude through the muscle wall of the uterus, while endometriosis is the growth of the inner lining of the uterus in the abdomen, which can cause bleeding and intense pain). Though these conditions are bad enough, as these can require further surgery, the real worst result of the use of the identified device is the risk of the development of a rare, yet deadly, cancer, like leiomyosarcoma, due to the spread of a tissue, called uterine sarcoma.

A power morcellator is a medical device that is able to cut large pieces of tissues into small sizes to allow these to pass through the tiny incisions on the abdomen. Since the introduction of these devices in the early 1990s, many doctors have preferred laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies (which make use of morcellators) over the traditional abdominal (an open surgery that requires a 5–7-inch incision on the abdomen) and vaginal hysterectomies. This preference is due to the many advantages of laparoscopic surgery (over traditional surgeries), which include tiny (four 0.5-1cm)incisions that heal much faster, shorter hospital confinement, lesser risk of complications and infection, less pain and less blood loss.

Due to the FDA’s safety alert, Ethicon, the power morcellator manufacturing division of Johnson & Johnson, stopped all sales and promotion of their devices (beginning April 30, 2014), which included the Morcellex Sigma, the Gynecare X-Tract and the Gynecare Morcellex.

Johnson & Johnson’s Gynecare Morcellex (mechanical ) Tissue Morcellator, specifically, was engineered to provide optimum performance and reliability. It enables surgeon to morcellate tissues smoothly and efficiently, and it eliminates many of the difficulties often associated with surgical procedures, including laparoscopic urologic procedures, laparoscopic general surgical procedures and laparoscopic gynecologic procedures.

Due to its design to perform four times faster than previously manufactured power morcellators, the Gynecare Morcellex is able to significantly reduce the length of the surgical procedures; it is also enabled to ensure ultimate safety and precision in tissue cutting and removal, and minimize any risk of hernia development.

Despite its unquestionable performance and great sales, however, Ethicon found it wiser to stop its sale, withdraw it from the market, and ask hospitals to return it, along with its other power morcellators, in compliance with the FDA alert.

With more than 50,000 laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies performed every year, the chances of further increase in the number of lawsuits against manufacturers of power morcellators is definitely possible.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires boxed warning, or black box warnings, for prescription medications and products that carry a significant or life-threatening risk to the consumer’s health. Unfortunately, most black box warnings aren’t administered until numerous cases of adverse incidents prove it necessary. Boxed warnings are used to protect consumers through the provision of vital information. One of the most common black box warnings accompanies all antidepressants.

After the inception of their widespread popularity, antidepressants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), were given a boxed warning due to the reported increased risk of suicide and violent behavior. The market release of Prozac, the first well-known name brand SSRI, brought in numerous reports of some patients feeling suicidal and angry. Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of Prozac, has paid out over $50 million in settlements to families that have been affected by the adverse effects of Prozac.

Though black box warnings are meant to protect patients, prescribers, and manufacturers, alike, some researchers question if the warnings will discourage people who need treatment from seeking the necessary help. Though SSRIs have been linked to suicidality in patients, it doesn’t affect a healthy majority of consumers. So, if a patient is too afraid to seek help, and a physician is too afraid to prescribe the medication because of potential risks, the outcome could be just as dangerous. For some patients, finding the most effective SSRI, can be a process. Waiting for the drug to take effect can take as long as six to eight weeks. Additionally, patients should pay attention to their mood especially if it worsens. If one SSRI causes a patient to feel suicidal, another medication usually works much better in alleviating feelings of depression.

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The Healthiest Tea

The health benefits of drinking tea have long been established. Research has determined the positive effects of tea are due to polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and the phytochemicals present in the plant Camellia sinensis. The antioxidants in tea can prevent certain cancers, reduce chances of heart attack, help fight free radicals in the body, enhance the body’s endurance, supplement diet and exercise, and even protect against ultraviolet rays.

Tea only has four variations: the oolong, black, white, and green. Anything that is an infusion of a different plant in not considered, in technical terms, tea. Being the world’s most consumed beverage, it helps to fully understand how each type of tea can affect your health and help you choose which one would best give you the benefits you are looking for.

Green tea is full of catechins. Catechins are known to be a powerhouse for fighting certain types of cancers, and are believed to be the reason for the reduced risks of diseases. It can also limit the effects of smoking and unhealthy diets. Drinking green tea can help in destroying the bad bacteria inside the body, preventing tooth decay and cause healthier skin, nails and hair.

Black tea is the most common type of tea in the market, has a slightly bitter flavor and has the most caffeine among the four types of tea. Black tea can help prevent blood clotting, and has more heart-related benefits. It is the most adaptable and can be mixed or spiced with cinnamon, milk, or others. Comparable to coffee, it is better than coffee because the caffeine in black tea takes longer to be absorbed in the bloodstream, providing longer, yet gentler awakening effects.

Oolong tea is similar to black tea; the difference is that the fermentation time is shorter. Oolong helps dissolve a form of dietary fat in the body (triglycerides) that is stored in fat cells. It is highly beneficial in weight loss, as well as in fighting aging skin. It appears and tastes similar to green tea, but has about the same caffeine content as black tea. Oolong tea is often considered an acquired taste, because its distinct mellow taste is hard to complement with sweeteners.

White tea is considered the health multitasker, offering several health benefits such as cardiovascular wellness and cancer-fighting advantages. White tea leaves are the least processed, and therefore, the rarest of four teas, containing the least amount of caffeine and have the mildest flavor among the four teas.

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