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Health News Health News
This Week in Health
January 10, 2014


Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

Research published this week estimated that tobacco control efforts in the last 50 years have saved 8 million people from early death. Another study looked at the results of a pledge by 16 major food companies. It found that they have cut 6.4 trillion calories from their products since 2007. That is far more than they pledged to do. Researchers also reported this week on a new implanted device to treat sleep apnea. The study found that it reduced episodes of apnea by 70%. A new study of older adults found that following a Mediterranean-style diet reduced their risk of diabetes. This occurred even if they didn't cut calories or increase exercise.

Stay well.

This Issue:

Study: Tobacco Control Saved 8 Million Lives
Food Companies Go Beyond Pledge to Cut Calories
Device May Improve Sleep Apnea
Mediterranean Diet May Cut Diabetes Risk


In the News:

Study: Tobacco Control Saved 8 Million Lives
Half a century of efforts to cut the use of tobacco have prevented 8 million early deaths in the United States, a new study estimates. On average, people who quit smoking or didn't start gained about 20 years of life, the study says. The report marks the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general's report on smoking. Released in 1964, the report declared that smoking caused lung cancer. At that time, about 42% of U.S. adults smoked. Since then, research has expanded the list of health risks linked with smoking. Public health efforts have increased awareness and encouraged quitting. States and cities have raised cigarette taxes and restricted public smoking. In all, these efforts have helped cut the smoking rate to 18% of adults. Researchers assumed that without these steps smoking rates would have stayed about the same. They estimated what death rates would have been in that case. Then they compared those estimates with actual death rates for 1964 through 2012. They concluded that tobacco-control efforts prevented early death for 5.3 million men and 2.7 million women. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study this week. HealthDay News and the Associated Press wrote about it.


Food Companies Go Beyond Pledge to Cut Calories
Major food companies have exceeded their goals to cut calories from the foods they sell, a new report says. A group of 16 major food companies pledged to cut 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012. They vowed to cut 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. The new report says they already have cut 6.4 trillion calories since 2007. That's more than 4 times the goal for 2015. The companies include Campbell Soup, three cereal makers, Kraft and both Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the report this week. Researchers looked at sales for the 16 companies. They calculated that the companies sold 60.4 trillion calories in 2007. That had dropped to 54 trillion calories by 2012. That's about 78 calories a day for each person in the United States. Food companies reduced calories by changing their products, developing new ones and putting old products in smaller package. The changed products accounted for 82% of sales growth, the report said. Experts said called the efforts a good first step. But they noted that healthy eating involves more than just cutting calories. The Associated Press and HealthDay News wrote about the report.


Device May Improve Sleep Apnea
A new type of device may help people with sleep apnea, results from a small study suggest. Obstructive sleep apnea causes breathing to stop or become very shallow for brief periods. This occurs because of a blockage to the airway during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause a drop in blood oxygen and lead to a higher risk of heart disease. The new study included 124 people with obstructive sleep apnea. Each person received the new device, implanted by surgery. The device electrically stimulates a nerve that controls the tongue and muscles in the upper airway. The pulses are timed to the breathing cycle. They cause the tongue to move slightly forward and the upper airway to open. After a yearlong trial, episodes of apnea and drops in blood oxygen were reduced about 70%. Researchers then randomly divided the 46 people who had the best treatment response into 2 groups. One group had the devices turned off for a week. The other group turned them on at bedtime, as usual. Apnea episodes jumped sharply in the group that had the devices turned off. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study this week. HealthDay News wrote about it.


Mediterranean Diet May Cut Diabetes Risk
Eating a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce the risk of diabetes, a new study suggests. The study included more than 3,500 older adults who were at high risk of heart disease. They were randomly divided into 3 groups. Two groups followed a Mediterranean-style diet. This type of diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil, beans and legumes. It is low in red meat and dairy. One Mediterranean-diet group added extra olive oil to the diet. The other group added extra mixed nuts. The third group followed a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. In the next 4 years, people on the Mediterranean-style diet were less likely to develop diabetes than those in the high-carb, low-fat group. Risk was 40% lower for the extra-oil group and 18% lower for the mixed-nuts group. The journal Annals of Internal Medicine published the study online this week. People in this study were not instructed to increase exercise or cut calories. But those steps might have lowered risk further, the journal's editor suggested to HealthDay News. Other research has shown that weight loss and exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes. HealthDay wrote about the study.


Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.

The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.



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