Health Highlights: April 27, 2012

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The rebates are one of the most tangible benefits that consumers have seen to date from the Obama administration's health care law, according to Larry Levitt, a Kaiser Family Foundation expert on private insurance, the AP reported.

However, the insurance industry says new benefits and other requirements of the health care law will likely drive up premiums, negating any consumer benefit from the rebates.

But the Kaiser report said that the new health care law has "provided an incentive for insurers to seek lower premium increases than they would have otherwise," according to the report. "This 'sentinel' effect on premiums has likely produced more savings for consumers and employers than the rebates themselves."


200 Now Sickened in Tuna-Linked Salmonella Outbreak

A salmonella outbreak linked to a frozen yellowfin tuna product has now sickened 200 people in 21 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Thursday.

In a statement, the agency said 28 people have been hospitalized but there have been no deaths reported.

The CDC says it is now including two types of salmonella in the "outbreak strains" -- Salmonella Bareilly (190 cases) and Salmonella Nchanga (10 cases).

On April 16, nearly 59,000 pounds of tuna product linked to the outbreak -- labeled Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA -- were recalled by Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif. The product, which is scraped off fish bones, was sold to grocery stores and restaurants to make dishes such as sushi, sashimi and ceviche.

As reported early in the outbreak by the Associated Press, many people who became ill reported eating raw tuna in sushi as "spicy tuna."

As of Thursday, the CDC said illnesses linked Salmonella Bareilly had been reported in: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (8), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Illinois (15), Louisiana (3), Maryland (20), Massachusetts (24), Mississippi (2), Missouri (4), New Jersey (18), New York (33), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (7), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (3), Texas (4), Virginia (9), Vermont (1) and Wisconsin (145). Illnesses linked to Salmonella Nchanga had been reported in Georgia (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1), the CDC said.

The CDC noted that salmonella illness is often serious for infants, older adults, pregnant women and persons with impaired immune systems, and these individuals should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish.


No Evidence Cellphones Cause Brain Tumors: Experts

There is no convincing evidence that cellphones cause brain tumors or any other types of cancer, according to British experts who conducted a "comprehensive" review of available scientific evidence.

However, possible long-term health effects of cellphone use need to be monitored because the use of cell phones has become widespread only recently, said the Health Protection Agency's independent advisory group, Agence France-Presse reported.

The group also advised against excessive use of cellphones by children.

"Overall, the results of studies have not demonstrated that the use of mobile phones causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer," the group said, AFP reported. "The evidence suggests that radio frequency field exposure below guideline levels does not cause symptoms in humans."


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