Health Highlights: Dec. 1, 2010

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

Health Care Law Constitutional: Judge

Another federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the new U.S. health care law.

Judge Norman K. Moon of the Federal District Court in Lynchburg, Va. on Tuesday granted the government's request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Liberty University, the private Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, The New York Times reported.

Moon ruled that the health care law's requirement that most Americans have health insurance falls within the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

Last month, a ruling by Judge George C. Steeh of Federal District Court in Detroit also upheld the law.

Since the law was enacted in March, there have been about two dozen legal challenges. Rulings in two more lawsuits are expected within the next few months, The Times reported.

Many experts predict that the Supreme Court will eventually have to make a final ruling on the constitutionality of the health care law.

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Lowe's Recalls Roman Shades and Roll-Up Blinds

About 6 million Roman shades and 5 million roll-up blinds that pose a strangulation hazard to children are being recalled by Lowe's, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The recall was triggered by reports that two young children nearly strangled after becoming entangled in exposed cords in the window coverings, msnbc.com reported.

The recalled Roman shades were sold at Lowe's stores, other retail stores, and online from at least 1999 to 2010. The roll-up blinds were sold between 1999 and 2005.

The CPSC said consumers should stop using the window coverings and get free repair kits by contacting the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636 or by going to the council's Web site, msnbc.com reported.

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Index Finger Length Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk: Study

Men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger may have a significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study.

The U.K. researchers reached their conclusion after comparing the hands of 1,500 prostate cancer patients and 3,000 health men, BBC News reported.

If the finding is confirmed it could offer a simple way to test for prostate cancer risk, said the researchers at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer Research.

They explained that finger length is determined before birth and is believed to be influenced by levels of sex hormones in the womb, BBC News reported.

Less exposure to testosterone before birth results in a longer index finger and may protect against prostate cancer in adulthood, the researchers said.

The study appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

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U.S. Senate Passes Food Safety Bill

A bill that would make major changes to the United States' food safety system was passed by the Senate Tuesday in a 73 to 25 vote.

The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration expanded powers to ensure food safety in order to prevent outbreaks of food-related illnesses, The New York Times reported.

For example, the FDA would have new powers to recall tainted foods, increase inspections of food plants, and force farms and food manufacturers to follow stricter safety standards.

Even though the Senate bill has wide bipartisan support, it may not reach President Barack Obama's desk before the end of the current congressional session. The House passed its own version of the bill last year and there may not be enough time for lawmakers to work out differences between the two bills.

However, leading House Democrats have indicated they would consider passing the Senate version to speed approval, the Times reported.

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Egg Producer Given OK to Resume Sales: FDA

The Iowa egg farm linked to a widespread salmonella outbreak earlier this year has been given permission to resume sales of shell eggs to consumers, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

More than 1,600 salmonella illnesses were linked to Wright County Egg, which had to recall 380 million eggs. FDA inspectors found insects, rodents, dead chickens and huge piles of manure at the farm, the Associated Press reported.

Since the outbreak and recall, the company has not been allowed to sell shell eggs except to breaker facilities that pasteurize the eggs.

On Tuesday, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Wright County Egg had implemented corrective measures and the "time had come" for the company to resume shell egg sales from one of its six farms, the AP reported.

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Posted: December 2010


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