Health Highlights: Jan. 11, 2010

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

Veterans' Suicide Rate Increases 26 Percent

From 2005 to 2007, the suicide rate among 18- to 29-year old males who've left the U.S. military increased 26 percent, according to preliminary data released Monday by the Veterans Affairs Department.

In 2007, the suicide rate for this group was 56.77 per 100,000, compared with 44.99 per 100,000 in 2005. The numbers were calculated using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures from 16 states, the Associated Press reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Veterans' Suicide Rate Increases 26 Percent
    • Baseball Great Admits to Steroid Use
    • Asian Companies Warned Against Using Toxins in Toys
    • Mental Health Issues Up for High School, College Students
    • Huge Increases in Drug Prices: Report
    • Sex Good for Men's Hearts: Study

One positive finding was that veterans in this group who used VA health care in 2007 were less likely to commit suicide than those who did not. That wasn't the case in 2005.

The VA needs to improve its understanding of what leads to these suicides, and VA facilities need more stringent protocols about how to handle a potentially suicidal veteran, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said Monday at a conference about the issue, the AP reported.

Veterans account for about 20 percent of suicides committed each year in the U.S., he noted.

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Baseball Great Admits to Steroid Use

Baseball great Mark McGwire admitted on Monday that he was using steroids when he slammed a record-breaking 70 homeruns while playing in 1998.

The confession, sent in a statement to the Associated Press, comes right before he is set to join the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training camp as a batting coach.

"It's very emotional, it's telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it's former teammates to try to get a hold of, you know, that I'm coming clean and being honest," he said during a 20-minute telephone interview with the wire service, his voice repeatedly cracking. "It's the first time they've ever heard me, you know, talk about this. I hid it from everybody."

He repeatedly stressed that his use of steroids was caused by his desire to overcome injuries, get back on the field and prove he was worth his multimillion salary.

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Asian Firms Warned Against Using Toxins in Toys

Asian manufacturers shouldn't try to substitute other toxic substances for lead in children's jewelry and other items sold in the United States, says the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

U.S. law forbids the use of lead in children's toys and jewelry.

In taped remarks to be delivered Tuesday in Hong Kong, Inez Tenenbaum warned that her agency would keep a close watch on the imported products, the Associated Press reported.

"I would highly encourage all of you to ensure that toy manufacturers and children's product manufacturers in your country are not substituting cadmium, antimony, barium, in place of lead," Tenenbaum said in a transcript of a speech to children's products manufacturers, exporters and regulators. "All of us should be committed to keeping hazardous or toxic levels of heavy metals out of ... toys and children's products."

On Sunday, the AP reported that some Chinese manufacturers substitute cadmium for lead in inexpensive charm bracelets and pendants sold in the United States. That prompted U.S. officials to launch an investigation.

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