Health Highlights: Aug. 31, 201008/31/10
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of
Obama Administration Appeals Judge's Order Banning Stem Cell
The Obama Administration on Tuesday filed an appeal against a
federal judge's order supporting a ban on federally funded
embryonic stem cell research.
The appeal, filed by the Justice Department with the U.S.
District Court in the District of Columbia, asks Judge Royce
Lamberth to revisit the restraining order he put in place last
Associated Press reported.
In his ruling, Lamberth responded to a lawsuit claiming that the
government is contravening a law prohibiting the use of tax dollars
for work involving the destruction of a viable embryo.
Scientists nationwide have expressed alarm that the halt on
federal funding will interrupt valuable stem cell research aimed at
fighting neurological diseases and other disorders.
Cough Medicine Ingredient May Get New Restrictions: FDA
Restrictions on a cough medicine ingredient are being considered
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in order to combat growing
On Tuesday, the agency posted its review of dextromethorphan, an
ingredient in more than 100 over-the-counter medications. The FDA
said that inappropriate use of the drug for its euphoric effects
was associated with nearly 8,000 emergency room visits in 2008, an
increase of more than 70 percent from 2004, the
Associated Press reported.
High doses of dextromethorphan can cause fever and boost blood
pressure and heart rate.
"Because of the drug's perceived safety, ease of availability, and desired psychoactive effects, it is sought after by those seeking to alter their mental state," according to the FDA review, the AP reported.
On Sept. 14, an FDA panel of outside experts will meet to
discuss whether dextromethorphan should be available only by
prescription. The FDA typically follows the advice of these
Diabetes Top Reason for Vietnam Vets' Health Claims
Diabetes is the leading cause of Vietnam veterans' health
compensation claims, according to U.S. government documents.
They show that about 270,000 of the one million Vietnam vets
receiving disability checks are getting compensation for diabetes,
according to the
Associated Press, which obtained Department of Veterans Affairs records through the Freedom of Information Act.
The number of vets being compensated for diabetes is greater
than for any other condition, including general wounds, hearing
loss or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Worries about the effects of the defoliant Agent Orange are the
reason why so many Vietnam veterans are being compensated for
diabetes, even though decades of research have failed to find any
firm link between Agent Orange and diabetes, the
The VA also pays compensation for a number of other common
age-related ailments with a possible link to Agent Orange. And the
VA said this week that it plans to add Parkinson's disease, heart
disease and certain types of leukemia to the list of health
problems that might be associated with Agent Orange.
Restaurant Portions Too Large: Study
Americans who eat at chain restaurants often get super-sized
portions even if they order a single entree or regular-sized meal,
finds a new study.
Researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest
examined the size of menu items at a number of fast food
restaurants and other popular food outlets and found that many
hamburgers, steaks, bagels and pasta entrees are at least two times
larger than the federal government's definition of a serving,
USA Today reported.
"The super-sized portions are super-sizing our bodies," said Bonnie Liebman, the nutrition director at the Washington, D.C.-based consumer group. "With two-thirds of adults and one-third of kids obese or overweight, you'd think restaurants would shrink their portion sizes, but they haven't."
"Eating half of what the restaurant serves is often just about right. Half is the new whole," Liebman advised, USA Today reported.
The study appears in the September issue of
Nutrition Action HealthLetter.
Support For Health Care Law Declines: Poll
Support for the new U.S. health reform law fell from 50 percent
in July to 43 percent now, according to the August Kaiser Family
Foundation's Health Tracking Poll.
About 45 percent of respondents in the latest poll said they
have an unfavorable view of the new law.
The new figures show a return to the even split in opinion last
seen in May before a slight increase in support during June and
The latest poll found that 29 percent of respondents believe
that they and their families will be better off under the new law,
compared with 32 percent in July and 28 percent in June. Thirty
percent said they expect to be worse off (29 percent July, 28
percent June), and 36 percent believe the new health law won't make
much difference (33 percent July, 39 percent June).
Currently, 39 percent believe the new law will benefit the
nation and 37 percent say it will have a negative effect, compared
with 43 percent vs. 35 percent in July and 42 percent vs. 32
percent in June.
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