Consumer Reports Health News

Thursday, June 17, 2010 General News
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YONKERS, N.Y., June 16 Welcome to Consumer Reports Health News for health and medical journalists. Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports on Health, and cover issues pertaining to the efficacy and safety of prescription and non-prescription drugs (including natural medicines), mental health, diet and nutrition, food safety, and fitness. Consumer Reports tests health and fitness products, rates the effectiveness and affordability of prescription drugs, and evaluates the claims made by drug companies and the health care industry--all without commercial agendas or advertiser influence.


When purchasing over-the-counter drugs, you can save a lot of money by choosing store-brand drugs. Consumer Reports Health compared the prices for store-brand versions to name-brand drugs for three categories of drugs and found that Walmart's own store-brand, Equate, netted significant savings. Store-brand drugs have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs and are just as safe and effective. And they're much cheaper, as the table below shows. This was the case not only at Walmart, which had the lowest prices for these three drugs, but at other stores Consumer Reports Health checked out such as CVS, RiteAid, and Target. The report is available online at

Each drug is Consumer Reports Health's recommended choice within its category: acetaminophen for fever reduction and pain relief; loratadine for seasonal allergies; and omeprazole for heartburn.


With the mercury rising and flip flops beckoning, it's time to give our feet a little summer love. A series of recent reports available at provide guidance on dealing with calluses and dead skin, treating toenail fungus, and what to look out for if you're planning on getting a gel manicure.

First of all, a word of caution about gel manicures from Consumer Reports' medical adviser, Dr. Orly Avitzur. Gel manicures are an increasingly popular way to extend the longevity of a manicure. But as Dr. Avitzur notes, there's a wide variety of gel manicure techniques, some of which can expose consumers to worrisome chemicals and hazards from filing. Consumers might want to avoid gel manicures all together, an approach Dr. Avitzur has personally adopted after treating a patient who received what she was told was a gel manicure and sustained nerve damage to her thumb. If you do visit the salon for a gel manicure, Dr. Avitzur suggests ten warning signs to look out for, such as looking out for unmarked bottles, unusually strong smelling chemicals, and an unclean environment. Dr. Avitzur's detailed blog is available online at

If you're thinking about covering up an unsightly toenail fungus, Consumer Reports' chief medical adviser, Dr. Marvin Lipman, has some good news: treatment is only occasionally medically necessary. However, millions of dollars are spent each year on ads by pharmaceutical companies to promote mostly futile attempts to eradicate onychomycosis, or nail fungus, a hardy microscopic organism that infects some 35 million people in the U.S. Dr. Lipman notes that two popular over-the-counter or home remedies are water-diluted vinegar foot soaks and Vicks VapoRub. Details of use are up to you since neither comes with printed instructions for treating toenail fungus. Dr. Lipman's "Five Minute Consult" column is available online at

Finally, for about $10, you can pickup a PedEgg to remove callouses and dead skin. Consumer Reports' expert testers recently put the PedEgg to the test and found that it was very easy to use, very good at removing calluses, and good at removing dry skin. It did better overall than the pumice stone, and buffing pads smoothed leftover roughness. But some filings escaped, so use PedEgg over a wastebasket. The report is available online at


It's easy to justify an evening nightcap by pointing to alcohol's ability to protect the heart. But too many nightcaps can do more harm than good, especially for men who tend to drink more than women and are more likely to binge. A new report from Consumer Reports Health notes that the health benefits of alcohol come from moderate drinking while most of the risks come from excessive consumption. The report is available online at

Alcohol may increase the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, mouth, and throat in both genders, and in women, the breast. Alcohol can also contribute to birth defects, depression, and hemorrhagic strokes, the kind caused by bleeding in the brain. Heavy drinking can harm the liver and heart as well as increase the risk of accidents, addiction, and violence. Moderate, regular drinking--generally no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men--can raise HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce the risk of death from heart disease by about 25 percent. It may also help prevent type 2 diabetes and ischemic strokes, the kind caused by blood clots. The full report is available online at

JUNE 2010

Consumers Union 2010. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®,®( )and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumers Union will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

Acetaminophen Loratadine Omeprazole (100 pills) (30 pills) (28 pills) Prilosec OTC: Brand name Tylenol: $8.01 Claritin: $19.41 $18.86 Walmart's brand Equate: $3.53 Equate: $4.00 Equate: $14.23 Savings: $4.48 (56%) $15.41 (79%) $4.63 (25%)

SOURCE Consumer Reports Health

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