Health Highlights: Feb. 16, 201202/16/12
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Include Cancer in WTC Compensation Program: Advisory Panel
An assistance program for people sickened by dust from the World
Trade Center should include at least some people with cancer, a
federal advisory panel says.
Billions of dollars have been earmarked to compensate and treat
people with illnesses potentially linked to the twin towers
collapse on 9/11. However, the program doesn't include people with
cancer because it hasn't been conclusively linked to the dust and
smoke released by the destruction of the WTC, the
Associated Press reported.
While the members of the advisory panel agreed Thursday that
some cancer patients should be covered by the program, they weren't
sure if it should include all or just certain types of cancer.
The committee's recommendation, due by March 2, can either be
accepted or rejected by the assistance program's administrator, the
No More King-Sized Bars, Mars Inc. Announces
Mars Inc. says it will stop selling chocolate products that have
more than 250 calories per portion, a decision that will see the
end of king-sized candy bars.
The company -- which makes brands such as Snickers, Mars, Milky
Way, M&Ms, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Dove and Galaxy --
says the move is part of a health and nutrition effort, the
Chicago Tribune reported.
A king-size Snickers bar has 510 calories, while a regular-size
Snickers currently has 280 calories.
By 2015, Mars plans to reduce sodium levels in all its food
products by 25 percent from 2007 levels. In 2007, the company
promised to no longer market chocolate products directly to
children under 12. Other efforts include placing calorie counts on
the front of packages, reducing saturated fat, and eliminating
trans fat, the
Experts Discuss Safety of Releasing Bird Flu Research
Experts are holding a two-day meeting to discuss whether
research on mutant forms of the H5N1 bird flu virus could pose a
threat to public safety if it's made public.
Last year, scientists in the United States and the Netherlands
found ways to engineer the virus so that it could be transmitted
between mammals, including humans,
Agence France-Presse reported.
Nature were asked to withhold publication of the
controversial research due to fears the information could be used
by terrorists to create a flu pandemic that could kill
In early January, the scientists conducting the research agreed
to stop their studies for 60 days to allow time for international
experts to consider the matter,
Any decision made at the World Health Organization meeting in
Geneva is expected to be reported late Friday.
White House's Move on Coverage for Birth Control Hits New
A new issue has developed in the controversy over the new U.S.
health care act's requirement that all employers, including
hospitals and universities with religious affiliations, must offer
coverage for birth control to women free of charge.
After complaints from religiously affiliated institutions, the
Obama administration said it would make insurers cover the costs,
rather than the organizations themselves.
But the problem with that compromise is that many religiously
affiliated organizations insure themselves rather than hire an
The New York Times reported.
That means that these organizations now have to determine how,
or if, they can reconcile their religion-based objections to
offering birth control with their role as insurers.
Details about how self-insured institutions will be treated
under the new law will be worked out in upcoming meetings with
"This policy will be developed collaboratively so that the ultimate outcome works for religious employers, their workers and the public," an administration official explained, The Times reported.
Raw Sprouts at Jimmy John's Linked to E. Coli Outbreak
For the fourth time since 2008, raw sprouts from the sandwich
chain Jimmy John's have been linked to a foodborne illness outbreak
in the United States.
Twelve cases of E. coli poisoning in five states (Iowa,
Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Wisconsin) have been linked to raw
clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John's restaurants, according to the
federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
Associated Press reported.
The illnesses occurred between Dec. 25 and Jan. 15. Two of the
victims were hospitalized.
A year ago, raw alfalfa sprouts from one of the Illinois-based
restaurant chain's suppliers were linked to 140 salmonella
illnesses. Sprouts eaten at Jimmy John's were linked to a 2009
salmonella outbreak in several Midwestern states and suspected in
an E. coli outbreak in Boulder, Colo. in 2008, the
The company declined to comment on the latest outbreak.
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