Health Highlights: April 2, 2012

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

Ad Campaign Spurs Large Rise in Calls to Quit Smoking Line

A new U.S. government anti-smoking campaign featuring graphic images of diseased smokers led to a huge increase in the number of people calling a toll-free number to help them quite smoking.

The 1-800-QUIT-NOW line received more than 33,000 calls last week, which was the first week of the $54-million, 12-week ad campaign. The phone line received less than 14,500 calls the previous week, the Associated Press reported.

The volume of calls last week was the highest in the seven-year history of the federally-sponsored quit line, which provides counseling and information about how to quit smoking.

Officials also said the number of clicks to the federal government's Smokefree.gov website increased from about 20,000 to about 60,000 last week, the AP reported.

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FDA Refuses to Ban BPA From All Food Containers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it will not ban the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.

In its response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the FDA said the environmental group did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on BPA, the Associated Press reported.

BPA is found in a wide range of products ranging from dental sealants to CDs to canned food. About 90 percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies, mainly due to exposure to the chemical in food containers.

Evidence from studies in animals suggests that BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems, potentially leading to cancer and other diseases, according to some scientists, the AP reported.

"While evidence from some studies have raised questions as to whether BPA may be associated with a variety of health effects, there remain serious questions about these studies, particularly as they relate to humans," the FDA said in its response to the petition.

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Salmonella Outbreak Caused by Pet Turtles: CDC

Sixty-six people in 16 states have become ill after being infected with salmonella from small pet turtles, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Eleven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Fifty-five percent of the ill people are children age 10 or younger.

The number of reported illnesses in each state are: Arizona (2), California (8), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (6), New Mexico (3), New York (21), Pennsylvania (7), Texas (3), Virginia (1), and Vermont (1).

An investigation revealed that the outbreak was caused by exposure to turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.

Turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches should not be bought or given as gifts, the CDC said.

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Posted: April 2012


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