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Health Highlights: June 29, 2010

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

Cancer Survivors Should Exercise: Guidelines

Cancer survivors should exercise as much as an average person (about 2.5 hours per week), according to new guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Even patients who are still receiving treatment should exercise. While these patients may not be able to do the recommended amount of exercise, they should avoid inactivity on their good days, the Associated Press reported.

The guidelines were written by a panel of cancer and exercise specialists who evaluated available evidence.

Research suggests that physical activity helps ease some cancer-related fatigue, improves quality of life, and may help prevent a decline in physical function that can last long after a cancer survivor has completed treatment, the AP reported.

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Children's Summer Meal Programs Being Cut: Report

The number of hungry children in the United States is increasing, but states and cities are cutting funding for summer meal programs, says a report released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

"Low-income children across the country clearly bore the brunt of budget cuts," said group President Jim Weill, the Associated Press reported.

Summer meal programs are for children who rely on subsidized or free meals at school for most of their nutrition.

The group analyzed data from the U.S. Agriculture Department and a survey of state child nutrition officials and found that during the summer of 2009, only 16 percent of children who received free or reduced-cost meals at school were fed during the summer holidays.

The figure was 17 percent in the summer of 2008 and 21 percent in the summer of 2001, the AP reported.

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Alcohol During Pregnancy May Harm Son's Sperm: Study

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant may damage their son's sperm, according to Danish researchers.

They found that young men born to mothers who had 4.5 or more drinks per week while pregnant had sperm concentrations about one-third lower than men who weren't exposed to alcohol in the womb.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.

"Our study shows that there is an association between drinking a moderate amount of alcohol (about four to five drinks a week) during pregnancy and lower sperm concentrations in sons," Dr. Cecilia Ramlau-Hansen, a clinical associate professor in the epidemiology department at the Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, said in a press briefing.

"However, because this is an observational study we cannot say for certain that the alcohol causes the lower sperm concentrations. It is possible that drinking alcohol during pregnancy has a harmful effect on the fetal semen-producing tissue in the testes -- and thereby on semen quality in later life -- but our study is the first of its kind, and more research within this area is needed before any causal link can be established or safe drinking limits proposed," she said.

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New Chinese Epidemiology Center Receives U.S. Help

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing training and technical assistance for a new epidemiology center in Shanghai, China, that opened Tuesday.

The center will train experts to find ways to prevent chronic and epidemic diseases.

"We need more field epidemiologists in China and around the world and we need them better trained," CDC Deputy Director Stephen B. Thacker told the Associated Press.

He added that research at the center will be "driven by what are the major public health issues in (China)."

Since it began international programs 30 years ago, the CDC has trained more than 3,000 epidemiologists worldwide, Thacker told the AP.

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Airline Food Companies Cited for Health and Safety Violations

A number of catering facilities of three companies that supply meals to major U.S. airlines have been cited for suspected health and safety violations, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration documents.

The companies are LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group, according to FDA documents obtained by USA Today. The food firms are used by nearly all large U.S. airlines, including American, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways, the newspaper said.

The violations listed by the FDA include food stored at improper temperatures, unclean equipment, poor worker hygiene, and signs of inadequate pest control, USA Today reported.

When asked about the problems, the food companies said they work hard to ensure food is safe, and the airlines said they monitor the food served to passengers.

Posted: June 2010


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