E-cigarettes may be harmful, FDA says

Electronic cigarettes - smokeless devices marketed as a way to deliver nicotine without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke - may be just as unsafe as the products they mimic, officials with the Food and Drug Administration said last week. For months, the FDA has wanted to keep e-cigarettes, as they are known, from being sold in the United States. They have blocked shipments at the border. They have warned that people can't know what they are inhaling when they use the product. But their efforts are being held up, as an e-cigarette manufacturer questions in court whether the FDA has regulatory authority over the devices. Now, the FDA is saying that a small sample of e-cigarettes that it analyzed contained carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. Defenders of the products say they still contain much less of the bad stuff found in cigarettes.

- Stephanie Desmon

Few in United States are underweight, survey finds

It's hard to believe, but being underweight used to be a considerable U.S. health problem. No more, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In the years from 1966 to 1970, 5.8 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 4.6 percent of children ages 12 to 19 were underweight. From 1960 to 1962, 5.7 percent of people ages 20 to 39 were underweight. Survey data from 2003 to 2006 show 3.3 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are underweight. In children ages 2 to 5, the incidence declined from 5.8 percent in 1971-74 to 2.8 percent in 2003-06. Among adults of all ages, the rates of underweight fell from 4 percent in 1960-62 to 1.8 percent in 2003-06. Five decades ago, 3.7 percent of people ages 60 to 74 were underweight. Today only 0.9 percent are underweight.

- Los Angeles Times

Studies affirm lifestyle and heart health link

Two new studies by Harvard University researchers affirm what doctors have been trying to drill into us for years: Adopt a healthy lifestyle and you'll keep your heart healthy. The studies, which appeared in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association, drive home the link between behavior and health. In the first paper, researchers used the Nurses Health Study to examine the connection between lifestyle and the risk of developing high blood pressure in some 84,000 women between 1991 and 2005. They measured how well the nurses followed advice on six lifestyle factors such as exercise habits, weight control and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Women who followed all six had about an 80 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those who did not. The second study looked at heart failure in men by examining some 21,000 doctors in the Physicians' Health Study from 1982-2008. Men with normal body weight who never smoked and exercised regularly had a 10 percent risk of developing heart failure, versus a 21 percent risk for men who didn't follow healthy behaviors.

- Kelly Brewington

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