Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Air Pollution a Leading Cause of Cancer, UN Agency Says
The United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO) has
classified air pollution as a prime cause of cancer worldwide,
especially in the case of lung cancer.
The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has
now placed dirty air in the same category of carcinogens as tobacco
smoke, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and plutonium,
According to IARC, about 223,000 lung cancer deaths globally can
be blamed on exposure to air pollution. The majority of these
deaths are occurring in rapidly industrializing Asian nations such
Colo. Cantaloupe Farmers Tied to Deadly Listeria Outbreak Plead
Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, the Colorado cantaloupe growers
whose farm was linked to a deadly 2011 listeria outbreak, said
Tuesday they would plead guilty under a deal with federal
Thirty-three people died in the outbreak, and last month the
brothers were charged with introducing adulterated food into
interstate commerce, the
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the charges laid
against the Jensens were meant to send a message to food producers
everywhere. The brothers each faced up to a 6-year prison term if
convicted of the original charges, the
Seniors' Prescription Drug Use Varies Widely by Region:
Seniors living the American South are more likely than those
living elsewhere to receive prescriptions for drugs deemed risky by
experts, but less likely to be prescribed certain medications that
might help them ward off heart attacks, a new study has found.
Overall, more than 1 in every 4 Medicare patients across the
United States received at least one prescription for medications
deemed risky for seniors, according to the study from the Dartmouth
Atlas Project, the
But the problem was more widespread in the South. For example, a
senior in Alexandria, La., was more than three times as likely to
receive one of these potentially harmful drugs compared to a senior
in Rochester, Minn. Examples of these riskier medications include
muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety drugs, both of which have been
linked to excessive sedation, falls and other problems, the
There were disparities in who received potentially helpful
drugs, as well. For example, seniors who had already had a heart
attack were much more likely to get a cholesterol-lowering statin
drug if they lived in Utah than if they lived in Texas, the study
"There's no good reason" for these regional disparities in prescribing trends, lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Munson, an assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, told the AP.
He said physicians "really need to ask themselves, 'Is there a
good reason why my patients are getting less effective care than
patients in the other regions.' "
Patients must be more vigilant, as well, Munson said, and ask
their physician why a particular medicine is being prescribed, its
pros and cons, and any available alternative therapies.
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