Health Highlights: Feb. 3, 2012

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

Sibling Study Suggests Drug Addiction Is 'Hard Wired'

Some people have brain abnormalities that make them "hard wired" for drug addiction, a new study says.

U.K. researchers found that 50 cocaine or crack addicts and their non-addicted brothers and sisters have the same abnormalities in the brain region (frontal-striatal systems) that controls behavior, BBC News reported.

The findings suggest that addiction is in part a "disorder of the brain," according to the University of Cambridge study in the journal Science.

"It shows that drug addiction is not a choice of lifestyle, it is a disorder of the brain and we need to recognize this," lead researcher Dr. Karen Ersche told BBC News.

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Taco Bell Identified as Source of Salmonella Outbreak

Taco Bell has been identified as the previously anonymous restaurant chain linked to a salmonella outbreak in October 2011 that infected 68 people and sent more than 20 of them to the hospital.

Most of the victims were in Texas. There were no deaths linked to the outbreak, according to a January report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ABC News said.

Federal officials couldn't identify the specific food product that may have caused the outbreak, but said the salmonella contamination likely occurred before the product reached "Restaurant Chain A locations."

On Wednesday, Food Safety News identified the restaurant chain as Taco Bell. The identification was based on data provided by an Oklahoma State Department of Health official, ABC News reported.

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Army Bans Exercise Supplements After Soldiers' Deaths

The role that certain dietary supplements for athletes may have played in the deaths of two soldiers is being investigated by the U.S. Army.

A spokesman said the soldiers died last year after they had heart attacks during workouts, The New York Times reported.

After the deaths, the Defense Department removed all products containing an ingredient called dimethylamylamine (DMAA) from stores on military bases until the Army's safety review is completed.

DMAA is found in dietary supplements such as the "preworkout booster" Jack3d and the fat burner OxyElite Pro. Some experts say DMAA should be classified as a drug, which would require that it be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before it could be marketed, The Times reported.

Products containing DMAA can still be bought at retailers across the U.S.

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Fungicide Levels in Orange Juice Don't Pose Health Risk: FDA

Low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in orange juice do not pose a health risk, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The fungicide is banned in the U.S. but has been found in orange juice made with oranges from Brazil, where the use of carbendazim is legal, ABC News reported.

Tests show that the amount of carbendazim in the affected orange juice is far below unsafe levels, the FDA said.

Research has shown that the fungicide can cause birth defects in rodents and affect chromosomes in human cells in laboratories, but it hasn't been found to have any health effects in humans, ABC News reported.

In a statement on its website, the FDA said it "is confident that orange juice in the United States may be consumed without concerns about its safety due to the possible presence of such residues."

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Hockey Great Gordie Howe Has Dementia

Even though hockey legend Gordie Howe has mild dementia, he still plans to begin another series of fundraisers to support dementia research.

A form of dementia called Pick's disease killed Howe's wife Colleen in 2009. Family members haven't sought a diagnosis of the exact type of dementia afflicting the 83-year-old Howe, who started showing signs of the condition in his late 70s, the Associated Press reported.

Concussions weren't tracked during Howe's playing career, so it's impossible to know how many the man known as Mr. Hockey might have sustained or whether there's any link between possible concussions and his dementia.

"He's a little bit worse than last year, but pretty close to about the same," son Marty told the AP. "He just loses a little bit more, grasping for words."

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Posted: February 2012


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