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Health Highlights: May 31, 2012

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

More Germs in Men's Offices: Study

Men's offices have significantly higher levels of bacteria than women's, a new study says.

The reason men's work spaces have more bacteria may simply be due to the fact that men are generally bigger than women, said study co-author Scott Kelly, a professor of biology at San Diego State University, ABC News reported.

"Skin is a major source of the bacteria, and if men's hands are physically bigger, there's more surface area to colonize bacteria. Men's mouths are also bigger," Kelly explained.

He and his colleagues analyzed samples collected from office surfaces in New York City, San Francisco, and Tucson, Ariz. and found the highest amounts of bacteria on chairs and phones. Desktops, computer keyboards and mice had lower levels of bacteria, ABC News reported.

The types of bacteria found in men's and women's offices were the same, and came mostly from the nose, mouth, skin and digestive tract. Several types of bacteria found in the offices are commonly found in feces.

The study was published in the online journal PLoS One.

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Bill Would Outlaw Sex-Selection Abortions in U.S.

A bill being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives would make it a federal crime to carry out an abortion based on the gender of the fetus.

The bill, meant to prevent the aborting of female fetuses, would impose a prison sentence of up to five years for performing or for soliciting funds to perform or coerce a woman into a sex-selection abortion, or for bringing a woman into the U.S. to obtain such an abortion, the Associated Press reported.

The aborting of female fetuses is more common in countries where there is a strong preference for sons, but it's also believed that the practice occurs in the U.S.

The largely Republican-supported bill is opposed by abortion rights groups, who say the bill exploits the problem of sex-selection abortions to further limit women's right to choose, the AP reported.

Even if the House passes the bill, it's unlikely to make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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NYC Plans to Ban Sales of Large Sugary Drinks

A ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at movie theaters, restaurants and street carts is being proposed by New York City officials.

The first-in-the-nation plan -- which could take effect as soon as March 2013 -- would prohibit the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces, The New York Times reported.

Along with sodas, the measure would include products ranging from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. It would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based products such as milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages.

The ban is the latest and most ambitious effort in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to tackle rising obesity rates.

"Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh, this is terrible,' " Bloomberg told The Times.

"New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something," he said. "I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do."

The proposal is opposed by the New York City Beverage Association, a part of the soda industry's national trade group.

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New Tests for E. Coli in Beef to Begin Monday

Beginning Monday, U.S. food safety inspectors are scheduled to begin testing for six strains of potentially deadly E. coli bacteria that will not be permitted in certain cuts of raw beef.

The implementation of long-delayed federal regulations target a group of E. coli bacteria collectively referred to as "the Big Six," msnbc.com reported.

These strains of E. coli will be classified on the same level of danger as the better known E. coli O157:H7, which is often implicated in serious illnesses associated with hamburger.

The new strains of E. coli to be the subject of testing include E. coli O26, O111, O103, O121, O45 and O145, msnbc.com reported.

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Posted: May 2012


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