Today’s Headlines: Probiotics, Fruit Recall, HPV Testing

Probiotics may help control your blood pressure: Researchers have found that consuming probiotics, which are the “good” bacteria found in cheeses, yogurt and milk, may help control blood pressure. “Researchers found that consuming the proper amount of probiotics over at least two months appeared to modestly lower blood pressure.Past studies have shown probiotics can have a positive effect on blood sugar, cholesterol and certain hormones – all of which can impact blood flow.” The reductions are modest with “probiotic consumption [lowering] systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg, compared to a placebo or no treatment,” but the findings reveal an unexpected new ally in helping fight high blood pressure. (Reuters)

Fruit recall over concerns of bacterial contamination: Fruit supplies from a California grower are being recalled because of possible contamination with a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. “Wawona Packing Co. is voluntarily recalling peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots that were packed at its Cutler, California, warehouses between June 1 and July 12.” Wawona supplies stores like Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco’s. No illness has been reported to date. Listeria is an organism that can cause serious infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weak immune systems. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. (CNN)

HPV testing more effective than Paps for cervical cancer screening: The Pap smear has long been the standard screening tool to prevent cervical cancer in women, but testing for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has become a standard addition since HPV causes the vast majority of cervical cancer. A new study using data from “more than 1 million women finds the HPV test outperforming the standard Pap test in assessing cervical cancer risk. Researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) conclude that a negative test for HPV (human papillomavirus) infection is associated with an extremely low risk for cervical cancer and provides greater assurance of low cervical cancer risk than a negative Pap test.” This supports the current practice of using both Pap smears and HPV testing to detect cervical cancer and “bolsters support for use of the HPV test alone as another alternative for cervical screening.” (CBS)