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Health Highlights: Oct. 12, 2010

Posted Oct 12 2010 10:00am
healthnewslink

  • Hormone Replacement Lawsuits Can Proceed: Supreme Court
  • Marketing, Psychology Used To Improve Kids' Diets
  • Supreme Court Case Could Open Vaccine Lawsuit Floodgates
  • U.S. Students Drink More When Studying Abroad: Study
  • Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

    Hormone Replacement Lawsuits Can Proceed: Supreme Court

    Drug makers have been rebuffed in their attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court reconsider a lower court decision to reinstate more than 100 lawsuits filed by women who allege that hormone replacement therapy caused breast cancer.

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Wyeth LLC and other drug makers about the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to overturn a federal judge's ruling to toss out many of the lawsuits, the Associated Press reported.

    In the original case, the federal judge agreed with the drug makers' argument that the plaintiffs added unrelated local defendants to ensure the case would remain in state court. The drug companies wanted the case in federal court.

    But in overturning that decision, the appeals court said it had not been proven that the plaintiffs did anything wrong, the AP reported.

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    Marketing, Psychology Used To Improve Kids' Diets

    Food behavior scientists are being enlisted to identify marketing and psychological techniques that will encourage children to choose healthier foods in school cafeterias, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Some methods include locating the salad bar near the checkout, hiding chocolate milk behind plain milk, placing fruit in pretty baskets, and having a cash-only policy for desserts, the Associated Press reported.

    Researchers at Cornell University have concluded that these methods are effective. The university will open a new child nutrition center to test more ideas meant to get kids to select fruits and vegetables over french fries and other unhealthy foods.

    The program will cost $2 million, the AP reported.

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    Supreme Court Case Could Open Vaccine Lawsuit Floodgates

    A U.S. Supreme Court hearing Tuesday could determine the future of hundreds of lawsuits that allege a link between vaccines and autism.

    The case involves parents who say their 18-year-old daughter suffered developmental problems after receiving a vaccine at age six months to protect against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The vaccine is no longer sold, The New York Times reported.

    The parents want the Supreme Court to allow them to sue the maker of the vaccine. But the federal government and drug makers will argue that such claims should be handled by a special vaccine court created to protect vaccine makers from lawsuits in order to ensure a stable vaccine supply.

    While this case doesn't involve autism, lawyers say it's outcome could have a major impact on lawsuits by families who claim the use of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines is linked to autism.

    Numerous scientific studies have found no link between vaccines and autism, The Tiimes reported.

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    U.S. Students Drink More When Studying Abroad: Study

    Increased drinking is common among American university students who study abroad, finds a new study.

    It included 177 University of Washington students who completed a questionnaire before and after they studied overseas. On average, the students' alcohol intake doubled, the Associated Press reported.

    The most dramatic increases in drinking occurred among students who studied in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, said the study in the current issue of the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

    In most cases, the students' drinking returned to an average of three to five drinks a week after they returned to Seattle, the AP reported.

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