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Health Highlights: March 30, 2012

Health Highlights: March 30, 2012

03/30/12

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

FDA Refuses to Ban BPA From All Food Containers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it will not ban the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

In its response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the FDA said the environmental group did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on BPA, the Associated Press reported.

BPA is found in a wide range of products ranging from dental sealants to CDs to canned food. About 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, mainly due to exposure to the chemical in food containers.

Evidence from studies in animals suggests that BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases, according to some scientists, the AP reported.

"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans," the FDA said in its response to the petition.

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Salmonella Outbreak Caused by Pet Turtles: CDC

Sixty-six people in 16 states have become ill after being infected with salmonella from small pet turtles, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Eleven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Fifty-five percent of the ill people are children age 10 or younger.

The number of reported illnesses in each state are: Arizona (2), California (8), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (6), New Mexico (3), New York (21), Pennsylvania (7), Texas (3), Virginia (1), and Vermont (1).

An investigation revealed that the outbreak was caused by exposure to turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.

Turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches should not be bought or given as gifts, the CDC said.

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New York Bans Sale of Synthetic Marijuana Products

The sale of synthetic marijuana products has been banned in New York state.

The products -- which are sold in locations such as convenience stores and smoke shops -- have been linked to severe health problems and death, the Associated Press reported.

The state order issued Thursday called for an immediate halt to the sale and distribution of the products. Local health officials will check stores to ensure they're complying with the order.

Synthetic marijuana products contain chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and produce a high when smoked, the AP reported.

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U.S. Announces New Policy for Potentially Dangerous Research

The U.S. government is tightening its oversight of scientific research involving dangerous germs that could pose a biosecurity threat if the research is ever misused.

The new policy announced Thursday comes in the wake of a controversy over recent experiments in the United States and the Netherlands that created easier-to-spread versions of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, the Associated Press reported.

The policy -- posted on the National Institutes of Health biosecurity website -- outlines how scientists and government agencies can determine which projects raise particular concerns about biosecurity and how to carefully manage risks from the research.

In related news, biosecurity advisers to the federal government began a two-day meeting Thursday to discuss whether the public should ever be given the full details of the H5N1 bird flu virus experiments, the AP reported.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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