Lawmakers Seek Answers About Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak
Federal lawmakers subpoenaed the president of the Peanut Corp. of America to appear at a hearing today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is looking into a salmonella outbreak traced to the plant that has made at least 600 people ill and is tied to eight deaths, the Associated Press reports. The committee wants to determine who is responsible for the outbreak. Meanwhile, the Peanut Corp. of America, which owns three plants that process peanuts, shut down its Plainview, Texas, plant on Monday after lab results indicated the presence of salmonella in samples taken last week. The company had closed its Blakely, Ga., plant last month, after it was identified as the source of the nationwide outbreak. (The company owns a third plant in Virginia that is so far not implicated.) More analysis is necessary to determine if the bacteria found in the Texas plant is the same as that linked to the nationwide salmonella outbreak, the Washington Post reports.
You can now track the effects of the salmonella outbreak on Twitter and Facebook. Some stores have begun calling customers about tainted peanut products. The Peanut Corp. of America plant in Georgia that shipped salmonella-tainted food items was contaminated with potentially deadly salmonella as far back as 2007, according to tests the company did then. This salmonella outbreak may be the scariest one yet because it involves peanut butter and peanut paste that manufacturers bought by the tanker-load and mixed into hundreds of products on supermarket shelves. Here's how to reduce your risk of becoming ill.
Finding Effective Treatment for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a problem that—when healthcare, lost income, and lost productivity are taken into account—is estimated to cost about $100 billion in the United States each year. More than a quarter of Americans age 20 or older, or about 76.5 million people, say they've experienced pain that lasted longer than 24 hours, according to the American Pain Foundation—and 42 percent have endured pain lasting longer than a year. Nobody keeps good long-term national stats, but if North Carolina's experience is any guide, the numbers are on the rise: A just-published study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the prevalence of chronic low-back pain in the state more than doubled to 10.2 percent between 1992 and 2006. Paul J. Christo, assistant professor and director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, calls undiagnosed, untreated, or undertreated pain a "significant public health problem."
Chronic pain encompasses a multitude of ills, from back pain, headaches, neck pain, and conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia, to pain that develops as a result of cancer treatment and can linger for months, or even years. Low-back pain, migraines, and joint pain (particularly in the knees) are among the most common complaints, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
How bad is your pain? Ask yourself these questions to help decide if it's time to see a doctor. Psychotherapy can also be useful for dealing with chronic pain. Also, take this true-false quiz to test your pain knowledge.
Why Women Shouldn't Panic About HRT
By now, women know to be wary of taking hormones after menopause, Deborah Kotz reports. The risks of taking the combination of estrogen and progestin—breast cancer, stroke, serious blood clots, dementia, and even, as reported last month, brain shrinkage—have been well established, and women no longer take these hormones for a lifetime in an effort to prevent heart disease and bone loss. A new study published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, though, found more cancer risk than previously thought from taking hormone therapy to combat troublesome menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. T aking hormones for a full five years doubles your annual risk of getting breast cancer, according to the new report; previous studies by the same researchers had found a much smaller 27 percent increased risk for those who took hormones over an average of 5½ years.
Still, there's no reason for women to be overly frightened. Kotz lists 3 reasons women shouldn't panic about HRT. Earlier, U.S. News explored whether HRT is safe for healthy women and discussed if it's possible that HRT is both good and bad for the brain.
—January W. Payne
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