Pcge 2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 22, 1986
Toxic shock risk prompts tampon ratings
By ALINE LEVANEN
Tampon manufacturers will soon
be required to adopt a uniform
numerical rating system to describe
the absorbency of their products, ac-
cording to a University nursing
professor whose research on toxic
shock syndrome spurred the new
Federal Drug Administration
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a
sometimes fatal disease linked to
tampon use, was thought to have
disappeared with the removal of Rely
brand tampons from the market in
But Prof. Nancy Reame, a leading
consumer activist for tampon safety,
says TSS remains a serious health
concern for women.
When health officials first publicly
announced the TSS threat, women
were told to avoid high-absorbency
products to reduce their risks of con-
tracting the disease. But Reame has
since proved the futility of this war-
e ime tapp
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"This recommendation is ineffective
because women still don't know what
they're buying," she says. "There's
no way to tell absorbency from the
labeling on the tampon package.
"MY study found that tampons with
the same size designations vary
widely in absorbency from one brand
to another, making it impossible for a
consumer to determine absorbency
from the package label," Reame ex-
"Some brands of Regulars are
more absorbent than other brands
labeled Super, or Super Plus. Because
current labeling is insufficient for
comparing absorbency across bran-
ds, women who wish to avoid high ab-
sorbency tampons because of the risk
of toxic shock will find it very difficult
to do so."
As a result of her study, Reame
says the FDA has switched from a dip
immersion test to measure tampon
absorbency to a syngyna-saline test.
The syngyna test proved a more
reliable method for rating tampon
The new FDA absorbency rating will
be similar to the numerical ratings
currently used for suntan lotions.
Although the reported number of
toxic shock cases has dropped by
more than 70 percent since first iden-
tified publicly with Rely tampons in
1980, officials from the Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta
believe the disease is under-reported.
TSS has also recently been linked to
the use of contraceptive sponges.
CDC will conduct a multi-state
study this year to determine more ac-
curately how often the illness occurs.
"We estimate we are getting only 10
percent of the cases," says Seth
Berkley, a CDC epidemiologist.
"Certainly there is a lot of toxic
shock that still occurs. It continues to
be a serious problem," Berkley says.
Increased awareness of the disease
and improved treatment methods
dropped the TSS mortality rate from
8.9 percent in 1979 to 2.7 percent in
Yet there is still no laboratory test
for the staphylococcus aureus, an in-
fectious bacterium, that produces a
deadly toxin which develops in the
high absorbency synthetic fibers of
TSS cases must be diagnosed sym-
ptomatically, and some doctors are
unable to detect it, says Berkley.
Commonly perceived as a tampon-
related disease, both sexes have con-
tracted TSS through surgical in-
cisions, abrasions, and insect bites.
The disease is rare in males,
however, and no deaths have been
"The syndrome was recently repor-
ted in a man who underwent nasal
surgery for which a super absorbent
material was used as a surgical
packing," notes Reame.
Berkley estimates more than 95
percent of the population has been
exposed to and shows antibodies for
the toxin by age 20. The remaining 5
percent are at risk of contracting the
CDC criteria for diagnosing TSS in-
clude these symptoms:
"A fever of 102 or greater;
eA sunburn-like rash;
eLow blood pressure or dizziness
oPeeling skin on fingertips and feet
one to two weeks after onset;
*Abnormalities in at least three organ
*No sign of any other diseases.
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White S. African industrialists
call for end to apartheid
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - White South African industrialists
called for an end to apartheid in an effort to re-establish confidence in the
nation's economy yesterday as the inflation rate hit a 64-year high.
Central Statistical Services, a government information agency, said
the inflation rate jumped to 18.4 percent in December. That was 1.4 per-
cent more than the previous month and almost double the rate of two
The Federated Chamber of Industries, the country's largest employer
alliance, said in a statement that political rights and freedoms should be
extended to all races.
The group called on the government to create a climate for negotiation
by releasing all political prisoners, abolishing discriminatory laws and
permitting blacks to work and live wherever their skills and wealth allow
and to share in governmental power.
But the "rights of minorities" should be protected, the statement said.
"Business hopes to play an important catalytic role" in getting talks
started, the chamber said.
"What is now needed to restore credibility and confidence in South
Africa is a realistic and visible program, both of political reform and
U.S. mayors say more need
emergency food and shelter
WASHINGTON - Demands for emergency food and shelter rose shar-
ply in selected cities last year, and in many cases hungry and homeless
people were turned away because there wasn't enough to go around, the
U.S. Conference of Mayors said yesterday.
A survey of officials in 25 cities in the United States and Puerto Rico
said that in nearly all the cities the national economic recovery has failed
to ease local poverty problems.
"Low benefits in public assistance programs, poverty and unem-
ployment problems lead the list of reasons for the persistence of hunger,"
said the report by the conference's task force on hunger and homeless,
headed by Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn.
The mayors reported demand for emergency food rose on average 28
percent in the cities during 1985, and that in all but two of the cities there
was an increase in the number of families requesting emergency food.
Walesa faces slander charges
WARSAW, Poland - Solidarity trade union founder Lech Walesa will
be placed on trial for challenging the official voter turnout figures in
Polish parliamentary elections last October, a government spokesman
"The investigation is ended," spokesman Jerzy Urban said in response
to a quesion at his weekly news conference. "It is now being discussed
which court should handle the trial. Then the date will be set."
Walesa, winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, is formally charged with
slander. If convicted, he could be jailed for as long as two years.
"The slander case is now under the supervision of the courts. This
means the trial will take place," Urban said.
Walesa, who led the 1980 strikes that led to the 'creation of the non-
outlawed Solidarity union, the first independent trade union in the Soviet
bloc, had called for a boycott of the election because communist
authorities controlled the selection of candidates for the 460 seats in seim,
the Polish parliament.
Car bomb kills 25 in Beirut
BEIRUT, Lebanon - A powerful car bomb apparently planted to
protest Christian opposition to a Lebanese peace accord blew up outside a
Christian Phalange Party office yesterday, killing at least 25 people and
wounding more than 125 others.
The driver of the Mercedes sedan jumped out of the car and fled just
before the roughly 660 pounds of explosives packed inside the vehicle ex-
ploded at noon in the crowded Furn El Shebak neighborhood of Christian
The explosion sparked a ball of fire that engulfed an intersection and
nearby shops and apartment houses. An army jeep carrying three
soldiers was torn apart by the blast. Hundreds of cars were caught in a
Police said at least 25 people were killed and more than 125 others were
wounded. The blast destroyed 30 vehicles and severely damaged eight
Rebels gain in South Yemen
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Hardline Marxist rebels bat-
tling for control of South Yemen gained ground against government for-
ces yesterday in new fighting that hampered efforts to evacuate Wester-
ners trapped in the corpse-strewn capital.
Rear Adm. John Garnier, aboard Queen Elizabeth II's yacht Britannia
off the shores of the capital city of Aden, reported to London by radio that
"fighting is still going on" and Aden had suffered "an incredible amount
Western and Middle Eastern evacuees said the streets of Aden were lit-
tered with corpses and burned-out cars, trucks and buses. Water and
power lines have been cut and the airport was destroyed in the civil war,
which began Jan. 13.
The evacuees described Aden as a "ghost town." As many as 10,000
people might have died in the war, the Cairo newspaper Al Ahram said.
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1Ihe Michigan Bail
Vol XCVI -No. 79
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