Health Highlights: Oct. 11, 2013

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And the Agriculture Department has closed a meat and poultry hotline that consumers can call for information about food safety or to report problems.

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Ban Fighting in Hockey: Concussion Experts

Fighting at all levels of hockey should be banned, researchers at a Mayo Clinic conference on concussions said Wednesday.

They said junior and professional hockey should replace five-minute fighting penalties with automatic game ejections and suspensions. Their recommendation comes eight days after a Montreal Canadiens player was hospitalized after a fight on the opening night of the NHL season, The New York Times reported.

"Science has responded to the game on the ice," said Ken Dryden, a Hall of Fame Canadiens goalie who spoke at the conference. "Now it's time for the game to respond to the science."

While no direct link has been made between fighting in hockey and long-term brain damage, there is research suggesting that fighting could lead to serious brain damage.

"You have grown men, standing on skates, punching each other in the head," said Dr. Michael Stuart, a director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and the chief medical officer for USA Hockey, The Times reported.

"They frequently fall, their helmet may come off, maybe their arms are pinned and the opponent falls on top of them, then their head hits the ice. Those forces acting on the brain are alarmingly high," he explained.

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New Calif. Law Permits Midwives to Perform Early Abortions

A bill permitting nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform a type of early abortion has been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown.

The legislation would allow those professionals to perform aspiration abortions during the first trimester. This technique involves inserting a tube and using suction to end a pregnancy, the Associated Press reported.

The new law will help expand access to abortion services in areas of the state with few physicians, said Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins of San Diego, who introduced the bill.

Nurse practitioners in Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont can perform this type of abortion, the AP reported.

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