Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New York City Targets Salt Levels in Food
New York City officials want the amount of salt in restaurant and packaged food reduced by 25 percent over the next five years in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of heart attack and stroke.
"We all consume way too much salt, and most of the salt we consume is in the food when we buy it," said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city health commissioner, The New York Times reported.
On Monday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration will introduce a wide-ranging health initiative meant to encourage restaurant chains and food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt in their products. New York officials say their plan has support from health agencies in other cities and states.
Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has launched other healthy living campaigns, including one targeting harmful trans fats in restaurant foods and another aimed at smoking, The Times reported.
Mental Health Issues Up for High School, College Students
Compared to the 1930s, five times as many American high school and college students are struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues, according to a new study.
Researchers reviewed the responses of 77,576 high school or college students who completed the Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory questionnaire between 1938 and 2007, the Associated Press reported.
The findings showed that, overall, an average of five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with students in 1938. In two areas, six times as many students in 2007 scored much higher in two areas:
- The rate of hypomania (a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism) was found in 31 percent of students in 2007, compared with 5 percent in 1938.
- The rate of depression among students was 6 percent in 2007 and 1 percent in 1938.
The study also found that 24 percent of students in 2007 scored high in a category called "psychopathic deviation" -- defined as having trouble with authority and feeling that rules don't apply to you -- compared with 5 percent of students in 1938, the AP reported.
The findings were released Monday, and the study will appear in a future issue of the journal Clinical Psychology Review.
High Levels of Cadmium in Children's Jewelry
The presence of the toxic metal cadmium in Chinese-made children's jewelry is being investigated by U.S. officials.
Product safety authorities pledged to "take action as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children," the Associated Press reported.
The move comes after lab tests showed that the cadmium content of some pieces of children's jewelry ranged from 84 to 91 percent by weight, and that some of the items easily shed the heavy metal, according to the AP.
Along with being a known carcinogen, cadmium can hinder brain development in very young children. Youngsters can get persistent, low-level doses of cadmium by biting or sucking jewelry with a high level of the toxic metal.
On Sunday, the AP reported that some Chinese manufacturers substitute cadmium for lead in inexpensive charm bracelets and pendants sold in the United States.
Huge Increases in Drug Prices: Report
The cost of 416 brand-name drugs increased at least once by 100 percent or more between 2000 and 2008, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report to be released Monday.
While most of the major price increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, the prices of 26 brand-name drugs rose more than 10-fold. The largest price increase was 4,200 percent, The New York Times reported.
Drugs meant to treat depression, anxiety and other central nervous system disorders accounted for nearly a third of the drugs affected by substantial price increases, the GAO said. Many drugs used to treat cardiovascular problems or infections also had major increases.
In an e-mailed statement, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said that drugs represent only 10 percent of overall health care spending in the United States, The Times reported.
"Companies make price adjustments independently as a result of market forces, which include everything from patent expirations" to research costs associated with developing new medicines, the group said.
"It is hard to find a good-faith explanation for why drug prices could go up this much," said Sen. Charles E. Shumer (D-N.Y.), The Times reported. He said the GAO report "will lead to a strong demand for action by Congress."
Sex Good for Men's Hearts: Study
Having frequent sex may almost halve a man's risk of heart disease, according to a U.S. study of more than 1,000 men who were followed for 16 years.
Men who had sex at least twice a week were up to 45 percent less likely to develop life-threatening heart problems than those who had sex once a month or less, reported the Daily Telegraph in England.
The study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, did not examine how sexual activity affected women's heart health.
The team at the New England Research Institute in Massachusetts said men may gain both physical and emotional benefits from regular sexual activity. In some forms, sex offers a physical activity component that may protect heart health.
The researchers also said men who have sex on a regular basis may be more likely to be in a supportive intimate relationship, which can offer health benefits through stress reduction and social support, the Daily Telegraph reported.