- Senators Want Tap Water Standard for Hexavalent Chromium
- Combined Tests Reveal Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease: Study
- Healthy Eating Helps Older People Live Longer
- House Passes Overhaul of Food Safety System
- Health Insurance Premium Hikes May be Reviewed
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Senators Want Tap Water Standard for Hexavalent Chromium
Two U.S. Senators plan to introduce legislation to set a deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency to establish an enforceable tap water standard for a probable cancer-causing chemical called hexavalent chromium.
Barbara Boxer and California colleague Dianne Feinstein outlined their intentions in a letter to EPA chief Lisa Jackson, the Associated Press reported.
Boxer chairs the Senate environment and public works committee, which will hold a hearing on the issue in February.
The Senators' call for an EPA tap water standard for hexavalent chromium (also called chromium 6) come after the release of an Environmental Working Group study that found the chemical in the drinking water of 31 of 35 cities across the country, the AP reported.
Currently, there are no enforceable federal standards for chromium 6, commonly discharged from leather tanning facilities, steel and pulp mills, and metal-plating plants.
Combined Tests Reveal Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease: Study
A lumbar puncture test combined with an MRI brain scan can detect signs of Alzheimer's disease years before a person develops symptoms, say U.K. researchers.
This method, which checks for brain shrinkage and lower than normal levels of amyloid protein in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), could be used to select patients to try new drugs that may slow or stop the disease, BBC News reported.
In Alzheimer's patients, there is an unusual accumulation of amyloid in the brain and less amyloid in the CSF, explained the team at the Institute of Neurology, University College of London.
They tested the lumbar puncture test/brain scan approach in 105 healthy volunteers. The brains of the 38 percent of those with low levels of amyloid in their CSF shrank twice as quickly as those with normal amyloid levels, BBC News reported.
The participants with low amyloid levels were also five times more likely to have the APOE4 gene, which increases the risk of Alzheimer's, and had higher levels of another Alzheimer's-related protein called tau.
The study appears in the journal Annals of Neurology.
Healthy Eating Helps Older People Live Longer
Older adults who eat a healthy diet may live longer, according to a new study.
Researchers compared the diets of 2,500 U.S. adults ages 70 to 79 over 10 years and found that those who ate a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables had a lower risk of death, BBC News reported.
The risk of death was highest among those who ate a high-fat diet with lots of whole milk, cheese and ice cream.
The study also found that people who ate healthy foods also had healthier lifestyles. For example, they were more physically active and smoked less, BBC News reported.
The study appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
House Passes Overhaul of Food Safety System
A bill designed to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to keep the nation's food supply safe was passed by the House on Tuesday, and is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama as early as Wednesday.
The legislation represents the first significant strengthening of the nation's food safety laws since 1938, and follows a series of well-publicized outbreaks of food-borne illnesses linked to a wide variety of foods, including spinach, peanuts and eggs.
The 215-144 vote came just before Congress was set to adjourn for the year, and the overhaul will affect all whole and processed foods, with the exception of meat, chicken and eggsm, according to the Associated Press.
Under the auspices of the $1.4 billion bill, the government will be able to inspect processing plants, order recalls and set stricter standards for imported foods. Larger farms and food manufacturers will have to prepare detailed food safety plans and tell the FDA what food safety measures they are implementing at different stages of production, the wire service reported.