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Ban menthol cigarettes, FDA panel urges

Menthol cigarettes have a higher risk of causing tobacco-related diseases than other cigarettes and should be pulled from shelves, according to a report by the Food and Drug Administration's Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. Research shows that menthol cigarette smokers inhale more smoke and tar particles than other cigarette smokers and that the products are more addictive, the March 18 report said. The findings were based on the committee's analysis of studies, tests and surveys conducted during the last several decades. The committee was formed under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to provide recommendations to the FDA about tobacco-related issues. The agency is reviewing the report and plans to provide an update on its review in three months, said Lawrence R. Deyton, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. R.J. Reynolds, one of the major U.S. tobacco companies, pledged to work with the FDA as it begins its analysis of the r ...

Communicating health risks can be tricky

How medical risks are perceived can vary by the way in which the statistical reality is portrayed. A new systematic review finds that patients and physicians struggle to interpret health probabilities. The review, published March 16 by The Cochrane Collaboration, which analyzes the evidence for the efficacy of health care interventions, examined 35 studies of how well patients, physicians and medical students understand various methods of communicating risks ( For example, most people have an easier time understanding the three-year risk of a hip fracture due to not taking an osteoporotic drug if it is expressed as a frequency, 100 patients in 1,000 will have a fracture. This is in contrast with expressing this as a percentage -- a 10% probability. If the drug benefits the patient by cutting the 10% risk in half, the so-called relative risk has been cut by 50%. In this case, the risk is 50% lower, relative to the 10% of patients who would ...

4% drop in U.S. birth rate is largest in 3 decades

Birth rates nationwide declined by 4% on average between 2007 and 2009, reaching 66.7 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, according to a federal report. This is the biggest decrease in more than 30 years. Rates dropped most sharply in the West and Southeast, and among Hispanic women and younger women, according to the report. Birth rates decreased by 9% for Hispanic women and 9% for women age 20 to 24. The study was released March 29 by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the CDC report does not link the decline to the most recent economic recession, other studies have. For example, the Pew Research Center concluded in an April 2010 analysis that there was a strong correlation between the decline in birth rates between 2007 and 2008 and the economic downturn in states. Older women bucked the national trend. Birth rates for women 40 to 44 increased 6% between 2007 and 2009 to reach 10.1 per 1,000 wom ...