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Friday, Jul 25th

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Global tobacco marketing campaign accused of targeting minors

Tobacco marketing minorsA stylish young woman clad in tight maroon pants and a short leather jacket has her fellow up against a brick wall as they share a passionate kiss. The caption underneath the photo reads, “Maybe never fell in love.”

A musician laughs while she picks a guitar, holding a lit cigarette in the other hand. The caption reads, “Maybe never wrote a song.”

A third young person is airborne above the outstretched hands of fellow concertgoers, accompanied by the caption “No more maybe.”

Each advertisement ends with the command to “Be Marlboro,” and is part of an international marketing campaign that public health advocates say is targeted toward children and teenagers in 50 countries with the goal of hooking them on a lifelong and deadly habit.

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FTC Opens Investigation into Herbalife; Shares Plunge

HerbalifeThe Federal Trade Commission has opened a probe into Herbalife. The stock, which had been halted, is now trading down 14%. Before the news came out, it was up 4.45%.

Herbalife confirmed that they received a Civil Investigative Demand from the FTC.  

"Herbalife welcomes the inquiry given the tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace, and will cooperate fully with the FTC.  We are confident that Herbalife is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.  Herbalife is a financially strong and successful company, having created meaningful value for shareholders, significant opportunities for distributors and positively impacted the lives and health of its consumers for over 34 years," the company said in a statement.

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BPA-free plastics may be less safe than those with chemical

BPA free plasticsIn 2008, the news burst on the media everywhere: common plastics contained potentially dangerous levels of bisphenol a (BPA) an additive that could be hazardous to consumer health. It leached into food and drinks, especially when plastics were warmed, posing a risk in baby bottles, water bottles, plastic storage containers and more. The plastics industry was reluctant to face the truth on BPA, but under pressure, it gave in — now, many plastic products are proudly labeled BPA-free.

So that means you’re safe, right? Your plastics have been guaranteed free of the nasty chemical everyone was so worried about, and you can go back to business as usual.

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Blood test predicts Alzheimer's disease

blood testIn a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have developed a blood test for Alzheimer's disease that predicts with astonishing accuracy whether a healthy person will develop the disease.

Though much work still needs to be done, it is hoped the test will someday be available in doctors' offices, since the only methods for predicting Alzheimer's right now, such as PET scans and spinal taps, are expensive, impractical, often unreliable and sometimes risky.

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Big Food defies First Lady with own nutrition label

Nutritional labelsLast week, with an assist from first lady Michelle Obama, the Food and Drug Administration announced a set of proposed improvements — the first in 20 years — to the nutrition facts label found on most food packages.

The most striking change would be the huge increase in font size for the calorie count; even for those with poor eyesight, the number would be hard to miss. (You can compare the current and proposed versions here.) This, combined with more realistic serving sizes, which the FDA has also proposed, might help. After all, who eats only 3/4 of a cup of Frosted Flakes? Food companies try to make their hyperprocessed foods look nutritionally palatable by, in the case of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, listing only 11 grams of sugar per serving per 3/4 cup. Under the new rules, serving sizes will be more realistic. As the agency explains, “By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what they ‘should’ be eating.”

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New laws permanently close 3 abortion clinics in Texas

Abortion ban TexasThree Texas abortion clinics — including both facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and the sole clinic in Beaumont — have permanently shut their doors in the face of strict state laws currently being challenged in federal court.

Whole Women's Health, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging a sweeping package of abortion restriction passed by the Legislature last summer, has closed its clinics in McAllen and Beaumont, company CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said Wednesday night.

“It may have taken me a little too long to accept it ... because the need is still here,” Miller said. “That's what's so heartbreaking.”

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CDC: U.S. hospitals' poor antibiotic use puts patients at risk

AntibioticsMore than half of U.S. hospitalized patients get an antibiotic and health officials say a strong antibiotic stewardship program is needed for all hospitals.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said antibiotics save lives, but poor prescribing practices are putting patients at unnecessary risk for preventable allergic reactions, super-resistant infections and deadly diarrhea.

Errors in prescribing decisions also contribute to antibiotic resistance, making these drugs less likely to work in the future, he said.

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