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Asteroid to pass Earth within moon’s orbit

PASADENA, Calif., April 7 (UPI) — U.S. astronomers say a newly discovered asteroid will travel close to Earth Thursday, passing the planet at a distance of about 223,000 miles.

The U.S. space agency said the asteroid — named 2010 GA6 — is approximately 71 feet wide and will fly-by Earth within the moon’s orbit. It was discovered by the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, a Tucson astronomical survey focused on the discovery and study of near Earth asteroids and comets.

“Fly-bys of near-Earth objects within the moon’s orbit occur every few weeks,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He said the asteroid poses no danger to the planet.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” plots the objects’ orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Gout: Not a disease of kings or rich men

BOSTON, April 7 (UPI) — Many consider gout to be “the disease of kings” or a “rich man’s disease,” but it is becoming increasingly common, a U.S. newsletter says.

The Harvard Health Letter says gout is a form of arthritis, which is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood and when the uric acid crystallizes in the joints, it causes inflammation and pain.

“Gout is becoming more common partly because of the obesity epidemic and dietary choices such as meat, seafood, sugar and alcohol — especially beer — can trigger attacks of gout,” the newsletter says.

“Soda drinkers are also at risk, since there is evidence that fructose, the main sweetener in many sugared beverages, increases uric acid levels in the blood.”

High blood pressure is another risk factor and diuretics taken to lower blood pressure can also increase uric acid levels.

Drug therapy is a consideration if there are gout attacks three or more times a year, the attacks are severe and difficult to control, or attacks affect several joints, the newsletter says.

Discovery docks with the space station

HOUSTON, April 7 (UPI) — NASA said space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station early Wednesday, with the shuttle’s crew beginning at least eight days of work.

The 3:44 a.m. EDT docking occurred without incident, officials said, and after procedural leak checks to ensure a solid mate between the two vehicles, the hatches were opened at 5:11 a.m.

Two space “firsts” occurred with that hatch opening: the first time four women have been aboard the same spacecraft during a mission and the first time two Japanese astronauts have been aboard the space station at the same time.

Discovery’s seven-person crew will join the space station’s six crew members for more than a week of work, the space agency said. The mission, which will include three scheduled spacewalks, will see the replacement of an ISS gyroscope, the installation of a spare ammonia storage tank and the retrieval of a Japanese experiment from the space station’s exterior.

The STS-131 mission is Discovery’s 38th and marks its next-to-last flight. The shuttle program is being terminated this year, with Discovery to make the final flight to the space station Sept. 16.

FDA issues ‘lipodissolve’ warning letter

WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters Wednesday to seven companies allegedly making false or misleading claims about drugs.

The FDA said six U.S. medical spas and a Brazilian company made false or misleading statements on their Web sites about drugs they claim will eliminate fat in a procedure called “lipodissolve.”

Lipodissolve is a procedure involving a series of drug injections intended to dissolve and permanently remove small pockets of fat from various parts of the body, the FDA said. The procedure is also known as mesotherapy, lipozap, lipotherapy or injection lipolysis.

The most commonly injected drugs are phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate, usually in various combinations with one another,

“The FDA is not aware of any credible scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of any of these substances for fat elimination, and their safety when used alone or in combination is unknown.

The warning letters were issued to Monarch Medspa of King of Prussia, Pa; Spa 35, of Boise, Idaho; Medical Cosmetic Enhancements, in Chevy Chase, Md.; Innovative Directions in Health, an Edina, Minn., firm; PURE Med Spa of Boca Raton, Fla., and All About You Med Spa of Madison, Ind. The Brazilian company receiving a warning letter markets lipodissolve products on two Web sites: zipmed.net and mesoone.com.

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