Alcohol to Blame for 12% of Native Americans' Deaths: Report
An estimated 12 percent of the deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives are due to alcohol, a figure that's more than three times higher than for the general population.
That's the conclusion of a federal report released this week that found that 11.7 percent of deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives between 2001 and 2005 were alcohol-related, compared with 3.3 percent for the population as a whole, the Associated Press reported.
Dwayne Jarman, one of the study authors and an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the report was the first national survey to measure the alcohol-related death rate among American Indians. And, he said, it should serve as a "call to action" for federal, state, local and tribal governments to combat the problem.
The two leading causes of alcohol-related deaths among Indians were traffic accidents and alcoholic liver disease; each caused more than 25 percent of the 1,514 alcohol-related deaths recorded over the study's four-year period.
The report also listed homicide to blame for 6.6 percent of alcohol-related deaths; suicide, 5.2 percent; and injuries due to falls, 2.2 percent, the AP said.
Sixty-eight percent of the victims were men, and 66 percent were people younger than 50 years old; 7 percent were less than 20 years old, the report found.
And the situation may be even more dire because the report didn't count deaths related to some diseases for which alcohol is believed to be a risk factor, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and colon cancer, the AP said.
Feds Can Bar Mad Cow Tests: Court
The U.S. government has the authority to bar meat companies from testing their animals for mad cow disease, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The Department of Agriculture's failure to test more than a fraction of cows for the brain-wasting disease prompted one meat company to announce that it would test all of its bovines, the Associated Press reported.
But the government turned thumbs down on that request, from Kansas meat producer Creekstone Farms. Bigger meat packers feared the move would force them to employ the costly test on all of their cows, as well, the wire service said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in overturning a lower court ruling, upheld the government's right to prevent Creekstone from testing its cows, the AP said.
Diabetes Drugs May Cause Heart Failure: Study
A number of related drugs for type 2 diabetics may boost their risk of heart failure, a Wake Forest University School of Medicine study finds.
Thiazolidinediones, which regulate users' blood sugar, appear to double the risk of congestive heart failure among people with type 2 diabetes, study authors Dr. Sonal Singh and Dr. Curt Furberg said in editorial published in the journal Heart.
Drugs in this class include rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos), reports United Press International.
Almost one-quarter of diabetics also have some form of heart disease, the wire service said. More than half of elderly diabetics will develop congestive heart failure, the study authors wrote.
Bassinet Warning Issued After 2 Infant Deaths
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has ordered retailers to stop selling bassinets that have been linked to two infant deaths, the Washington Post reported Friday.
The "close-sleeper/bedside sleeper" bassinets were made by Simplicity Inc. of Reading, Penn. The agency's safety alert was prompted by the death of a 6-month-old Kansas girl, who died from strangulation Aug. 21 after getting caught in the product's metal bars, the newspaper said.
In September 2007, a 4-month-old Missouri infant became entrapped in the metal bars and died, the CPSC said.
Some 900,000 of the 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets may be in circulation. Their metal bars are spaced farther apart than 2 3/8 inches, which is the maximum allowed by federal law, the agency said. This warning does not cover bassinets produced recently that have fabric permanently attached over the lower bar, the CPSC added.
The agency issued the warning after SFCA, the company that bought now-defunct Simplicity's assets earlier this year, refused to issue a recall, the Post reported. The warning was issued under sweeping new authority granted the agency by a two-week-old law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
While the agency has the authority to mandate a recall, doing so generally takes some time. As a result, most product recalls are voluntarily issued by the manufacturers or distributors, the Post said.
An attorney for SFCA said his company was cooperating with the government. Because it had merely purchased Simplicity's assets, SFCA didn't "take on the legal responsibility for the products," the newspaper reported.
New York City's HIV Infection Rate 3 Times U.S. Average
People in New York City are contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, at three times the U.S. average, the Associated Press reported.
According to the city's health department, nearly 4,800 people in New York acquired HIV in 2006, or about 72 of every 100,000 residents, the wire service said. That compares to a national rate of about 23 per 100,000.
Local health officials cited the city's large populations of gay men, blacks, and other groups that tend to have above-average incidence of HIV infection.