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Health Headlines - July 1

Posted Jun 30 2009 9:30pm

Many Factors Contribute to AMD: Study

A wide range of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), says a U.S. study.

Researchers followed more than 1,400 people for an average of 6.3 years and identified a number of risk factors that were used to develop a predictive and possibly diagnostic model, United Press International reported.

The factors include gene variants, age, smoking, body mass index, and ocular and environmental factors. All were independently associated with AMD.

"The determinants of the model can be assessed by completing a questionnaire and taking a blood test, and it is a tool which could be used to help guide prevention and treatments," lead author Dr. Johanna M. Seddon, of Tufts University School of Medicine, and director of the Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Service and Tufts Medical Center, said in a news release, UPI reported.

The study was published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

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Healthy Eating A Challenge At Work: Survey

A bounty of unhealthy snacks in American workplaces makes it difficult for employees to stick to a healthy diet, according to a new survey.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they find it a challenge to eat healthy in their workplace and 47 percent said it's because there are too many unhealthy snack options available to them at work, United Press International reported.

Only 7 percent of respondents said they eat healthier at work than they do at home, said the survey, which was sponsored by Peapod Business Delivery.

Among the other findings:

  • 28 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the amount of healthy snack choices available to them at work.
  • Fresh produce is the food that employees most want in the workplace, but only 36 percent of companies regularly provide vegetables and fruits.
  • Candy is at the bottom of the list of foods that workers want, yet 1 in 3 businesses offer candy to employees.

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E. Coli Found in Nestlé Cookie Dough: FDA

A sample of Toll House refrigerated cookie dough made at a Nestlé USA plant in Virginia has tested positive for E. coli bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday.

The agency is waiting for test results to determine if the E. coli in the cookie dough from the plant in Danville is the same strain that sickened at least 69 people nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reported. The tests are expected to be completed later this week.

The E. coli was found in a sample from a 16-oz. chocolate chip cookie dough bar that had a production date of Feb. 10 and best-use date of June 10. The sample was collected when FDA investigators were inspecting the Danville plant.

"Nestlé continues to work closely and in full cooperation with the FDA on the ongoing investigation," said Laurie MacDonald, vice president of corporate and brand affairs at Nestlé USA, the Journal reported. "We are very concerned about those who have become ill from E. coli 0157:H7, and deeply regret that this has occurred."

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Daily Sex Improves Sperm Quality: Study

Having more sex helps men with fertility problems boost the quality of their sperm, says an Australian study that included 118 men with damaged sperm.

When the men had sex every day for a week, 81 percent of them had a 12 percent reduction in the amount of sperm with damaged DNA, the Associated Press reported.

The study was presented at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Experts note that if sperm is in the body for too long, it's more likely to get damaged, the AP reported.

Other ways of improving sperm quality include not smoking, drinking in moderation, exercise, and consuming more antioxidants.

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Too Few Young Adults Treated for Alcohol, Drug Problems: Study

More than one in five young adults in the United States (7 million) need treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use, but only 7 percent of them receive treatment at a specialty facility, says a federal government study released Monday.

Those levels have remained relatively stable since 2002, said the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study of 2007 data from a national survey of 22,187 adults ages 18 to 25.

"Substance use disorders are preventable and treatable yet we continue as a nation to allow the lives of 1 in 5 young people and their families be torn apart by substance abuse," SAMHSA Acting Adminstrator Eric Broderick said in a news release. "As a nation we must redouble our efforts to prevent substance abuse in the first place and ensure treatment is available to those in need."

The study also found that 96 percent of young adults who needed, but didn't receive, treatment for substance-use problems didn't believe they needed help.

Among the other findings from the 2007 data:

  • Among young adults, 17.2 percent needed treatment for alcohol disorders in the past year, 8.4 percent for illicit drug disorders, and 4.4 percent for both alcohol and illicit drug disorders.
  • Young adults covered by Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were more than three times as likely as those with private insurance to receive treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use in a specialty facility -- 13.2 percent vs. 4 percent.
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