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Health Highlights: Jan. 26, 2010

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

More Melamine-Tainted Dairy Products Found in China

Chinese officials say they've ordered the removal of melamine-tainted dairy products from the shelves of more than a dozen convenience stores in the southern province of Guizhou.

The order to remove cartons of milk and frozen milk products dating from early 2009 came after health inspectors tested the products and found they contained melamine, the Associated Press reported.

Health authorities are investigating why the tainted dairy products hadn't already been pulled from the convenience store shelves, said Guizhou government spokeswoman Ling Hu.

The action comes more than a year after melamine-contaminated milk sickened hundreds of thousands of children in China, the AP reported. Melamine is used in the manufacture of plastics and fertilizer.


U.S. Unprepared for Bioterror Attack: Panel

The United States isn't prepared for a biological terrorist attack, such as the release of deadly bacteria or viruses, according to a Congressionally mandated panel.

The poor preparation for the swine flu outbreak in 2009 shows that the nation isn't positioned to respond to something more serious, said Randy Larsen, executive director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, the Associated Press reported.

Larsen noted that the United States ran out of H1N1 swine flu vaccine despite a six-month warning from health officials that the disease would be potentially deadly.

He said no one in the Obama administration has the lead for protecting the nation against a bioterrorism attack, the AP reported.


Blood Glucose Level Affects Decision Making: Study

Blood glucose levels affect a person's decisions about present and future rewards, says a new study.

Participants were asked a series of questions about whether they'd prefer to receive a certain sum of money tomorrow or a larger amount at a later date. The questions were asked before and after drinking either a regular soda or a diet soda with an artificial sweetener, United Press International reported.

Those who drank a regular soda and had a higher blood glucose level were more likely to decide to receive a larger amount of money at a later date, while those who drank a diet soda and had a lower blood glucose level tended to take the smaller amount of money immediately.

The University of South Dakota researchers said their findings suggest that higher levels of blood glucose are associated with more future-oriented decisions, UPI reported.

The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.


U.S. Veterans With PTSD Fight for Better Coverage

Thousands of U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who were discharged from the military because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been told they can apply for an expedited review of their cases to determine if they were improperly denied benefits.

The legal notices sent to about 4,300 veterans explain that they have until July 24 to join a lawsuit against the U.S. military in order to be included in the expedited review, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit was launched by seven combat veterans who allege the military illegally denied health care and other benefits to veterans discharged because of PTSD during a six-year period that ended Oct. 14, 2008.

Each of the seven plaintiffs was given a disability rating of 10 percent or less when discharged. Since October 2008, the military has given a disability rating of at least 50 percent to those discharged with PTSD, the AP reported.

A higher disability rating ensures lifelong monthly disability benefits for a veteran, free health care for the veteran and his/her spouse and health care for the veteran's minor children.


Regular Sex Benefits Men's Hearts: Study

Having sex at least twice a week can reduce a man's risk of serious heart disease by almost half, says a new study.

It included more than 1,000 men, aged 40 to 70, who had no history of heart disease and were followed for 16 years. Men who had sex twice a week were as much as 45 percent less likely to develop serious heart conditions than men who had sex less than once a month, CBS News reported.

The study appears in the American Journal of Cardiology. Women weren't part of the study, but experts believe the findings would be true for them too.

Sex could help heart health through its physical and emotional effects, said the researchers, CBS News reported. Sex can be good exercise and men who have regular sex are more likely to be in a healthy relationship that reduces stress and provides them with social support.

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Posted: January 2010