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Health Highlights: Jan. 24, 2013

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

NYC Sugary Drink Rule Challenged in Court

New York City's limit on the size of sugary drinks is reasonable and necessary, and the health board has the authority to enact it, a lawyer for the city's health department said in court Wednesday.

The rule was implemented because there is an obesity epidemic in the United States and there's scientific proof that sugary drinks are a major contributor to the problem, Thomas Merrill, the city health department's chief lawyer, told Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling, the Associated Press reported.

The limit on sugary drinks is being challenged by the American Beverage Association and other opponents. A lawyer for the association told the judge that the rule is an "extraordinary infringement" on consumer choice.

Critics are also questioning the racial fairness of the regulation -- saying that it will unduly harm minority businesses and "freedom of choice in low-income communities" -- as well as the health board's power to approve the rule, the AP reported.

The measure, which did not go before city council, was approved by the city Board of Health in September and is scheduled to take effect March 12. The rule forbids restaurants, bars, move theaters and other outlets from selling high-sugar beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces.


NFL Sued by Junior Seau's Family

The NFL is being sued by the family of former linebacker Junior Seau, who say his suicide was the result of a brain disease caused by hits to the head he suffered during his football career.

In the wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday, Seau's family accuses the NFL of "acts of omission" that hid the dangers that players faced due to repeated blows to the head, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit says Junior Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of head injuries.

Seau was 43 when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot in May 2012. Tests conducted after his death revealed that he had CTE, it was recently revealed.

"We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE," Seau's family said in a statement released to the AP. "While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.

"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."

The Seaus are also suing football helmet maker Riddell Inc., accusing the company of negligence in the "design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets" used by NFL players, the AP reported.

The helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe, according to the lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court in San Diego.

The NFL has consistently denied allegations similar to those in the Seau family's lawsuit.

More than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases, the AP reported. More than 100 of the concussion lawsuits have been brought together in Philadelphia.


Petition to Reclassify Marijuana Rejected by Appeals Court

A petition to reclassify marijuana from its current status in the United States as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use was rejected Tuesday by a federal appeals court.

The petition was submitted by several individuals and three medical marijuana groups, the Associated Press reported. In 2011, a petition to change marijuana's classification was rejected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Tuesday's appeals court ruling came a few months after Colorado and Washington state legalized marijuana for recreational use.

In his majority opinion Tuesday, Judge Harry Edwards noted that the issue wasn't whether marijuana may have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA's decision to reject the petition was "arbitrary and capricious," the AP reported.

The appeals court concluded that this was not the case.


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Posted: January 2013