Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
States Consider Labels for Genetically Modified Foods
A number of states are considering laws requiring labels on food
products that contain genetically modified ingredients. The states
are weighing such action because there is no federal
Currently, only Connecticut and Maine have such laws, but they
won't take effect until other states implement their own rules.
Bills to require labels on genetically modified foods are expected
in more than two dozen states, the
One of those states is Rhode Island.
"I don't know if it's harmful or unhealthy, but it's something people have a right to know about," said Rhode Island state Rep. Dennis Canario, a Democrat sponsoring a labeling bill, the APreported. "They put calories on a package. They put the fat content. If the ingredients have been genetically altered, shouldn't that be listed on there somewhere?"
In the past two years, voters in California and Washington
rejected ballot proposals that would have required labels on
genetically modified foods. On Wednesday, New Hampshire lawmakers
defeated such a bill.
"If you believe genetic modification produces food that has a health risk, then you're saying the FDA should be the one to label it," said state Rep. Linda Lauer, a Democrat and a retired chemist, the APreported. "And if there's no health risk, then why are you requiring a label?"
Seventy percent of processed foods contain at least one
ingredient made or derived from genetically modified crops,
according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public
Interest, while the Grocery Manufacturers Association says it's
between 70 and 80 percent.
Researchers have found no evidence that genetically-modified
foods are more harmful than those without genetic modifications,
but proponents of labeling laws say consumers have a right to be
Groups on both sides of the issue want a federal standard on how
genetically modified foods are labeled. The Food and Drug
Administration now allows food producers to voluntarily label their
items as genetically engineered or not.
A number of nations, including the members of the European
Union, have labeling laws for genetically modified foods and it's
likely that pressure from states acting on their own will force the
U.S. government to implement labeling requirements, according to
Scott Faber, executive director of the pro-labeling organization
Just Label It.
"Clearly the FDA has the authority to require labeling, but the states are leading the way," Faber told the AP. "Ultimately, once a number of states act, the federal government will too."
Slight Decrease in Uninsured Rate: Survey
There has been a slight drop in the number of Americans without
health insurance since major coverage expansion under the
Affordable Care Act took effect, a new survey finds.
The uninsured rate for adults fell by 1.2 percent in January, to
16.1 percent, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
based on interviews with more than 9,000 people. This means that
about 2 million to 3 million people are newly insured, the
The 6.7 percent decline in the uninsured rate among unemployed
people was the largest, followed by a 2.6 percent decrease among
nonwhites. Both groups tend to be far more likely to be uninsured
than the U.S. population as a whole.
There was a 1.9 percent drop among women and a 0.6 percent
decrease among men. When examined by income, people making $36,000
to $89,999 had the largest decline, at 1.8 percent.
There was little change in the uninsured rate among young adults
ages 18-34, who have shown low levels of interest in signing up.
The survey also found that Medicare sign-ups are rising, the
Major parts of the health care law took effect at the start of
the year, meaning that nearly everyone now has to have health
insurance or risk fines, and that insurers can't refuse coverage to
people with health problems. Middle-class households are being
offered taxpayer-subsidized insurance through new state-based
These are early findings and it could take up three months to
determine if the decline in the uninsured rate is an actual trend,
according to Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief. He added that
an improving economy and other factors could be behind the fall in
the number of uninsured people, the
Pet Treats Tied to Illness in Dogs Are Returning to Stores
Two leading brands of recalled pet jerky treats associated with
hundreds of pet deaths and thousands of illnesses will be soon be
back on the shelves of U.S. stores.
Next month, a line of Waggin' Train treats for dogs will be
reintroduced by Nestle Purina Pet Care and Del Monte Foods Corp.
plans to resume selling Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky Strips and
Chicken Grillers Recipe treats in March,
The treats were recalled about a year ago and federal officials
have not solved the mystery of how the treats were connected to
large numbers of pet deaths and illnesses nationwide.
Since 2007, the Food and Drug Administration has received
reports of nearly 600 pets, mostly dogs, dying and 4,500 pets
becoming ill after eating chicken, duck and sweet potato products
made in China. That number of reports has risen by 900 since
The FDA has issued repeated warnings that consumers should avoid
pet jerky treats. The news that the recalled treats will soon be
back on store shelves was widely criticized by veterinarians,
animal advocates and pet owners.
Higher Levels of Potential Cancer-Causing Chemical in Pepsi One:
Pepsi One has higher levels of a potential cancer-causing
chemical than other soft drinks, according to a study released
Researchers looked at levels of a chemical called
4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), which is found in artificial caramel
coloring used in soft drinks. There are no federal limits on the
chemical's use, but California requires warning labels on foods or
beverages that expose consumers to more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI
a day, the
Los Angeles Timesreported.
Consumer Reportsstudy said that 12-ounce cans of the
low-calorie soft drink Pepsi One bought in California contained as
much as 43.5 micrograms of 4-MeI, and that a nonalcoholic malt
beverage called Malta Goya had as much as 352.5 micrograms of the
In contrast, cans of Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper contained 4.3
micrograms and 10.1 micrograms, respectively, of 4-MeI, the
A person would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day
to reach the levels of 4-MeI linking the chemical and cancer in
rodents, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the
In 2012, both Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. promised to reduce
the amount of 4-MeI in their drinks, the newspaper said.
"We are concerned about both the levels of 4-MeI we found in many of the soft drinks tested and the variations observed among brands, especially given the widespread consumption of these types of beverages," said Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and executive director of the Consumer ReportsFood Safety and Sustainability Center, the Timesreported.
Pepsi disputed the study findings. The soda maker said levels of
4-MeI in its drinks did not equal 29 micrograms a day because "the
average amount of diet soda consumed by those who drink it is
approximately 100 [milliliters] per day, or less than a third of a
12 [ounce] can," the
Timesreported. Goya Foods Inc. refused comment, the
Consumer Reportshas asked the California attorney general to
investigate whether Pepsi One and Malta Goya should have warning
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
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.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services. All rights reserved.