The Best Way to Curb America's Taste for Salt
How can America cut its salt intake? That was the focus of a new study that found that such a move could prevent thousands of deaths and save the United States billions of dollars in healthcare costs, HealthDay reports. Heavy salt consumption can cause high blood pressure and may lead to heart attack or stroke. Researchers used a computer model to gauge the effect of two different approaches to reducing salt: a tax on the substance or enlisting the aid of the food industry to cut salt in processed foods. Researchers found that the latter method would be more effective, and they calculated that reducing salt consumption in the United States by 9.5 percent would save $32.1 billion in medical costs, according to HealthDay. The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Parents' Vaccine Safety Fears Mean Big Trouble for Children's Health
Parents are really worried about childhood vaccine safety, but the public-health community doesn't seem to get it. A new survey reveals that 54 percent of parents are concerned about the adverse effects of vaccines, and 25 percent think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute reports. Yet just last week, the federal government vaccine advisory board called for all Americans 6 months and older to get flu shots next fall, including the vaccine against the H1N1 flu strain. If the goal is to protect the public's health, you'd think the feds would first want to address the fact that a big chunk of parents think vaccines aren't safe, Shute writes.
The vast majority of parents do have their children vaccinated against childhood diseases; 88 percent of the 1,552 parents polled in the January 2009 survey just published in Pediatrics said they follow their doctor's recommendation for childhood vaccines. But 11.5 percent said they'd refused at least one vaccine for their children. Read more.
Statins for Prevention? Taking a Cholesterol-Lowering Drug When Cholesterol Is Normal
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, and while it affects both sexes, it tends to nab men at an earlier age than it does women. Just last month, however, the Food and Drug Administration made a move that many cardiologists call a boon for prevention: The agency OK'd the use of a cholesterol-lowering drug, a statin called Crestor, in folks whose cholesterol levels are normal and whose doctors haven't diagnosed them with heart disease. The move aims to better shield millions more Americans against future heart attacks, strokes, heart procedures, and surgery, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon writes.
The FDA's decision hinged on the results of a large study, called the Jupiter trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. Jupiter took almost 18,000 middle-aged adults and assigned them to either Crestor or a sugar pill. Under national guidelines, the study participants would not have normally been prescribed a statin because their levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol weren't high enough (all had LDLs below 130 mg/dL). But all of the participants had elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a measure of inflammation. Researchers hoped Crestor might lower the risk of cardiovascular problems since statins also reduce CRP. Read more.
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