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Friday, Apr 18th

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FDA to crack down on antibiotics in meat

fdaThe Food and Drug Administration will issue two major proposals Wednesday in an effort to cut back on antibiotics used on farms that can spur drug-resistant superbugs, making a final push to limit drugs fed to animals before they’re turned into steaks and pork chops.

The move — just the latest by the agency to tighten regulation of the American food supply — puts drug companies on notice and starts the clock on the Obama administration’s three-year strategy to rein in the use of antibiotics. It comes on the heels of a recent effort to ban trans fats and a handful of other sweeping new food safety regulations.

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An effective eye drug is available for $50. But many doctors choose a $2,000 alternative.

lucentisThe two drugs have been declared equivalently miraculous. Tested side by side in six major trials, both prevent blindness in a common old-age affliction. Biologically, they are cousins. They’re even made by the same company.

But one holds a clear price advantage.

Avastin costs about $50 per injection. Lucentis costs about $2,000 per injection.

Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.

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Immune system may play crucial role in mental health

mental healthA growing body of research on conditions from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to depression is starting to suggest a tighter link than was previously realized between ailments of the mind and body. Activation of the immune system seems to play a crucial role in both.

"We just didn't understand how much of a role the immune system plays in how we think and feel and act," says Andrew Miller, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University. "An overactive immune system or when there's something going on in the immune system, it can have consequences on the brain."

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Chemical in fries, chips and coffee prompts FDA advice

Chemicals in fries, coffeeCrispy French fries and crunchy potato chips were never health foods, what with all the calories, fat and salt. But consumers just got a reminder that there's one more thing to worry about when they indulge in such foods: a chemical called acrylamide that might cause cancer.

For more than a decade, scientists have known that acrylamide forms when potatoes, cereal grains and some other plant foods are browned through frying, baking or roasting. That means it shows up in fries, chips, breakfast cereals, toasted bread, cookies, crackers and even coffee. Studies show the chemical can cause cancer in rodents at high doses. In humans, the cancer risk remains unclear, but health agencies around the world are concerned and calling for more study.

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A handful of tree nuts a day reduces death risk by 20 percent

tree nutes mean longer lifeAlmonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios are linked to a 20 percent lower death rate, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Ying Bao of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues analyzed nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses' Health Study and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

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Coca-Cola's Assault on Tap Water

coca colaWhile public health advocates have sung the praises of tap water for years, Coca-Cola has been focusing on its own covert assault on the affordable, healthful, and refreshing beverage.

Unbeknownst to many in the nutrition and public health world, the soft drink giant launched a  "Cap the Tap" program -- aimed at restaurants -- in 2010, described in the following manner on the Coke Solutions Web site:

Capture Lost Revenue By Turning Off the Tap

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Heart attack risk identified by new scan

Heart attack risk scanA new way of scanning the heart can identify those who may be at high risk of a heart attack, early tests suggest.

It can identify dangerous plaques in the arteries which nourish the heart. If a fatty plaque ruptures, it can lead to a clot, blocking the flow of blood.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh said an effective tool for predicting a heart attack would make a "massive difference" to patients. Experts said it was an exciting start.

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