- Pesticides Linked to Tourist Deaths: Thailand Officials
- Addiction a Brain Disease: New Defintion
- Medicaid Gets Bigger Drug Discounts Than Medicare: Report
- Current Carbon Monoxide Standards Protect Health: EPA
- Not All Obese People Unhealthy: Studies
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Pesticides Linked to Tourist Deaths: Thailand Officials
Pesticides may have caused the deaths of four foreign tourists and a local tour guide in northern Thailand earlier this year, authorities said Tuesday.
An investigation was launched after the five mysterious deaths and illnesses of three others in the city of Chiang Mai in January and February. It concluded that two of the tourists and the tour guide "likely died of exposure to pesticides," Agence France-Presse reported.
The deaths of two other tourists may also have been caused by pesticides but officials could not establish a direct link.
Investigators could not pinpoint the exact agents involved or where they came from, AFP reported.
Addiction a Brain Disease: New Defintion
Addiction is a chronic brain disease and not just a matter of willpower, says a new policy statement published on the Web site of the American Society for Addiction Medicine.
The new definition is meant to help families and primary care doctors better understand the challenges of treating addiction, the Associated Press reported.
"Addiction is about a lot more than people behaving badly," said ASAM past-president Dr. Michael M. Miller, who oversaw development of the new definition.
Like other chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, treating addiction and preventing relapse is a long-term effort, according to the ASAM, the AP reported.
Medicaid Gets Bigger Drug Discounts Than Medicare: Report
Federal rules are one reason why many prescription drug discounts are much deeper for Medicaid than Medicare, according to a report released Monday by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The discounts are in the form of rebates paid by drug companies when their products are dispensed to people enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare.
The inspector general found that the rebates reduced spending on 100 widely used brand name prescription drugs by 45 percent in Medicaid and by 19 percent in Medicare, The New York Times reported.
Part of the reason for this difference is the fact that Medicaid discounts are set by law while Medicare prices are negotiated by drug makers and private insurers, the inspector general said.
Current Carbon Monoxide Standards Protect Health: EPA
Current U.S. national air quality standards for carbon monoxide (CO) protect public health and the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The agency also said that levels of CO in the air have fallen by 80 percent since 1980, mostly due to motor vehicle emissions controls.
The current health standards are 9 parts per million (ppm) measured over 8 hours, and 35 ppm measured over 1 hour. CO levels at monitors across the country are well below the standards.
CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can harm health by reducing oxygen delivery to the body's tissues and organs, including the heart and brain, the EPA said.
Revised air monitoring requirements to be implemented in the next few years will require CO monitors to be placed near roads in 52 urban areas with populations of 1 million or more. This will provide the EPA with data about CO levels that may be affecting the health of people who live in neighborhoods near busy roads.
Not All Obese People Unhealthy: Studies
Some obese people may be healthy and don't need to lose weight, two new studies suggest.
They challenge the common belief that body mass index (BMI) and weight determine health, CNN reported. One group of researchers estimated that one in five obese people may not have medical issues.
But it can be difficult to distinguish between the "healthy obese" and obese people who currently don't have weight-related health issues but may develop them in the future.