Health news nuggets: tainted lettuce, senior suicides and more
Response to last Thursday's Health News Nuggets was such that I was encouraged to try the format again this week. Here are some of the week's top health stories:
Romaine-related illnesses highlight packaged lettuce risks
Packaged, pre-cut romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli and served in restaurants and institutional (including college cafeteria) salad bars has sickened 23 people in four states since March 1. Romaine sold directly to consumers in grocery stores appears not to pose a health risk. But some experts are wondering whether pre-cut vegetables -- especially those that, like romaine, may be trimmed in the field -- are more likely to be contaminated. Seems plausible, doesn't it?
Study regarding cell phone/cancer link is called "inconclusive"
A large, international and long-awaited study funded by the United Nations found a minuscule link between cell-phone use and brain cancer -- but not enough for scientists to come out and say whether frequent cell-phone use in fact causes cancer. I say follow your kids' lead and stop talking so much on your mobile. Try texting instead. But not while you're driving, right?
Walmart still selling cadmium-containing Miley Cyrus jewelry
Even though Walmart has known for months that the Miley Cyrus-branded jewelry it sells contains cadmium, which poses health risks to children and adults, the nation's leading retailer has kept the jewelry on its shelves. The company apparently is not accepting from manufacturers any new cadmium-laced jewelry but opted not to remove what it already had in stock. They can stock it, but we sure don't have to buy it.
Seniors in assisted living more likely to commit suicide
Senior citizens move into assisted-living and long-term-care facilities in part so they'll have the support they need to stay safe and healthy. But new research shows that suicide rates actually may be higher for seniors who move to such facilities than for those who remain at home. Researchers speculate that recent life losses that cause seniors to move in the first place may coincidentally contribute to suicide risk.
Smallpox eradication may have boosted HIV pandemic
In unsettling news, a small laboratory study suggests that vaccine-induced immunity to smallpox may inhibit the proliferation of the virus that causes AIDS. Vaccinating against smallpox, the study posits, may have inhibited the spread of HIV -- back when we still vaccinated against smallpox. When we stopped vaccinating, that potential inhibitor disappeared. So by eradicating one deadly disease (smallpox, in the mid-20th century), we may have inadvertently spurred the spread of another. Yikes.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
May 20, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Health News
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