Health Headlines: Z-Pack Linked to Heart Problems

Plus: Does circumcision reduce pleasure?; Chronic insomnia can affect the heart; Europe bans cosmetic animal testing; and more health news.

The popular antibiotic azithromycin (we all know it as the five-day “Z-pack”) can cause changes in the electrical activity of the heart and that may lead to a fatal irregular heart rhythm in some patients. But this not based on a new study. Warning labels have been on the drug since March 2012, and last spring the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Why are we just hearing about it now? The F.D.A. issued a warning Tuesday after analyzing last spring’s study. [NY Times]

Does circumcision reduce sexual pleasure? According to a new study published in the British Journal of Urology International, circumcised men reported less sexual sensitivity than uncut men. But, some scientists are disputing the study, saying that the study used a biased sample population, didn’t measure sensitivity changes before and after circumcision, and found only a tiny difference between the two groups, all of which makes the study clinically meaningless. Basically, it could be case of don’t always believe what you read—even if it’s in a medical journal. [NBC News]

Chronic insomnia affects the heart, according to a new study published in the European Heart Journal. The large study looked at 54,000 Norwegian adults over 11 years. The researchers found that having one symptom of insomnia was associated with a 17 percent increase in the risk of developing heart failure. [NY Times]

A new Alzheimer’s blood test could detect the disease earlier. British researchers from the University of Nottingham developed a blood test that is “quick and easy” and looks for the “markers” that are different in people with and without the disease. The researchers hope the test will pick up Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear. [BBC News]

The European Union banned the sale of all cosmetics tested on animals Monday. Israel implemented a similar ban Jan. 1. Animal rights groups were quick to applaud the ban, and are urging the U.S. to follow suit. Not everyone is happy about the ban, though. Cosmetics Europe, the trade group that represents Europe’s $93 billion cosmetics industry, said the ban “acts as a brake on innovation.” [USA Today]