Health Buzz: Salmonella Update and Other Health News

Sunscreen safety, who's using illegal narcotics, and preventing teens from drinking and driving

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Officials Still Looking for Salmonella Source

Federal health officials said yesterday that they're no closer to identifying the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak and that the investigation has now expanded to include types of food typically served with tomatoes. The number of illnesses linked to the outbreak now stands at 869; there have been 107 hospitalizations. The FDA also activated the Food Emergency Response Network —an action that could increase the number of laboratories nationwide assigned to determine the source of the outbreak.

Last month, Nancy Shute explained how to foil salmonella by cooking your tomatoes.

Group Explores Sunscreen Safety and Effectiveness

The Environmental Working Group said in a report released yesterday that 4 out of 5 sunscreen brands don't provide adequate sun protection or contain unsafe chemicals. The investigation of 952 name-brand sunscreens identifies 143 brands that offer "very good" sun protection and include ingredients that pose minimal health risks. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research organization also calls on the FDA to finalize comprehensive sunscreen safety standards.

In June, U.S. News provided advice from an expert on how to get enough vitamin D, explored the safety of tanning, and described the host of health benefits attributed to the sunlight.

Most Likely to Use Marijuana or Cocaine: Americans

The United States has the highest levels of cocaine and marijuana use of 17 countries surveyed, according to a global study published Monday in the journal PLoS Medicine. The researchers found that 16 percent of Americans have used cocaine in their lifetime and 42 percent have used marijuana, Adam Voiland reports. The discrepancy between the United States and other countries surveyed was especially large for cocaine. Only 4 percent of people in New Zealand, Colombia, Spain, and Mexico—the countries with the next highest rates—reported using cocaine, while the other countries all reported rates of less than 2 percent. For marijuana, only New Zealanders reported using the drug at levels comparable to Americans'.

U.S. News recently explored what parents need to know about marijuana, offered advice on how to shield kids from substance abuse, and published a primer on the types of questions teens have about peer pressure and drugs.

How to Stop Teens From Drinking and Driving

Taking away teenagers' driver's licenses if they're caught using fake IDs to buy alcohol may be one of the most useful new tools in reducing the risk of drinking and driving, according to a study of state laws aimed at discouraging teenage drinking. But some of the more high-profile efforts, including penalties for adults who host underage parties and, for teens, graduated driver's licenses that prohibit night driving, didn't appear to do any good, Nancy Shute reports.

Earlier, Shute explained that alcohol use in teens may lead to adult woes. In April, Sarah Baldauf listed six questions that adolescents have about alcohol.

—January W. Payne