Health Highlights: Feb. 28, 2011

HealthDay + More
  • Higher Education Linked to Lower Blood Pressure
  • Tobacco Companies Sue FDA
  • Lift OTC Age Restrictions on Morning-After Pill: Company

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Higher Education Linked to Lower Blood Pressure

More education is associated with lower blood pressure levels, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from 4,000 people in the 30-year Framingham Offspring Study and found that systolic blood pressure (the top number) readings for women with 17 years or more of education (a master's degree or doctorate) were 3.26 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) lower compared to those who dropped out of high school, Agence France-Presse reported.

Systolic blood pressure readings for men who went to graduate school were 2.25 mmHg lower than men who were high school dropouts.

Men and women who earned associate's or bachelor's degrees at college but did not continue on to graduate school also had lower blood pressure readings than those with less education, AFP reported.

The study appears online in the journal BMC Public Health.

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Tobacco Companies Sue FDA

Some members of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee considering whether the agency should ban or restrict menthol in cigarettes have a conflict of interest, alleges a lawsuit filed against the FDA by two major tobacco companies.

The lawsuit by Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds claims that three members of the advisory committee have received payment as expert witnesses in litigation against cigarette makers and as advisers to drug companies that make smoking cessation products, The New York Times reported.

The advisory committee will hold two meetings before it makes its recommendations by March 23. The FDA typically follows the advice of its advisory committees.

The FDA would not comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Friday, the Times reported.

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Lift OTC Age Restrictions on Morning-After Pill: Company

A request to make the Plan B One-Step morning after birth control pill available to women of all ages without a prescription has been filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Currently, women 17 and older can buy the drug over-the-counter, but those younger than 17 require a prescription for the high-dose hormone pill that needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, ABC News reported.

Drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. says Plan B One-Step meets FDA scientific criteria for OTC products.

"Label comprehension and safety data show that all women are able to safely and effectively take this product. It is not typical for any women's health product to have age restrictions," said Denise Bradley, senior director of corporate communications at Teva Pharmaceuticals, ABC News reported.

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