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Health Highlights: Oct. 22, 2012

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

FDA Investigating Role of Energy Drink in Five Deaths

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed Monday that it is investigating whether Monster energy drinks might have played a role in the deaths of five people.

According to Bloomberg News, FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said the victims cited in the five reports had all consumed the energy drink before they died, but she stressed that the claims in the reports are only allegations at this point.

The family of a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking the energy drinks is using the reports in a lawsuit it has filed against the maker of the drinks, Monster Beverage Corp. of Corona, Calif., according to Bloomberg.

The high levels of caffeine in these energy drinks has prompted public concern as emergency room visits involving these drinks increased tenfold between 2005 and 2009, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has asked the FDA to consider caffeine limits on energy drinks, Bloomberg reported. The agency has said it is working on draft guidelines to guarantee energy drinks do not pose a danger to those who consume them.

Monster, which sold $1.6 billion worth of energy drinks in 2011, defended its product, Bloomberg reported.

"Over the past 16 years Monster has sold more than 8 billion energy drinks, which have been safely consumed worldwide," the company said in a emailed statement. "Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks."

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Banana Boat UltraMist Sunscreen Recalled After Users Catch Fire

Nearly two dozen types of Banana Boat UltraMist spray-on sunscreen are being recalled after reports of people catching on fire after applying the lotion, says product maker Energizer Holdings.

In the last year, there have been four reports of in the United States and one report in Canada of people catching on fire after applying the sunscreen and getting close to open flame, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

More than 20 million units of the 23 UltraMist products have been sold since being introduced in 2010.

"Energizer believes that this issue is associated with the product delivery system, specifically the size of the spray valve opening on the affected products," the company said in a statement, CBS/AP reported.

"The spray valve opening on the affected products dispenses more than is typical in the industry for continuous sun care sprays. As a result, the product is taking longer to dry on the skin than is typical with other continuous sprays. If a consumer comes into contact with a flame or spark prior to complete drying of the product on the skin, there is a potential for the product to ignite," Energizer explained.

For more information, consumers can phone the company at 1-800-723-3786.

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Diet, Exercise Fail to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Patients: Study

A U.S. study examining whether diet and weight loss can prevent heart attacks and strokes in overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes was halted two years earlier than scheduled because it found no benefits.

The study of more than 5,100 patients compared outcomes among those in a control group who received general health information and those in an intervention group who did at least 175 minutes a week of moderate exercise and consumed either 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day (those weighing less than 250 pounds) or 1,500 to 1,800 per day (those weighing more), The New York Times reported.

After 11 years, the control group and intervention group had nearly identical rates of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths. The data is currently being analyzed and will be published in research papers.

"I was surprised," said Rena Wing, the study's chairwoman and a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University's medical school, The Times reported.

Like many, Wing believed that diet and exercise would help these patients, partly because short-term studies showed that those approaches lowered blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Despite the study results, experts say there are many benefits to diet and exercise even if they did not lower cardiovascular disease risk in people with diabetes, The Times reported.

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Bone Marrow Transplant Pioneer Dies

An American researcher who received the 1990 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work to perfect the bone marrow transplant died Saturday at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

E. Donnall Thomas, 92, had heart and lung problems, according to his wife and longtime research collaborator Dottie Thomas, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bone marrow transplants have saved tens of thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, myelofibrosis and a number of autoimmune diseases.

Thomas also helped found the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center nearly four decades ago, WSJ reported.

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