Health Highlights: June 11, 2008

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

U.S. Life Expectancy Hits New High

Life expectancy in the United States hit a record high in 2006 of 78.1 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Life expectancy rose to new highs for white males (76), black males (70), white females (81) and black females (76.9).

In addition, the age-adjusted death rate fell to 776.4 deaths per 100,000 people from 799 in 2005, the agency said in a prepared statement. Death rates for many of the leading causes of death fell significantly in 2006, including a 12.8 percent drop in deaths from flu and pneumonia.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Life Expectancy Hits New High
    • AP: Paul Newman Has Cancer
    • U.S. Tab for Allergy Sufferers: $11 Billion
    • Hong Kong, Fighting Bird Flu Outbreak, Orders Chicken Cull
    • Kids' Pajamas Recalled for Excessive Lead
    • Bottles With Bisphenol A Safe: FDA Official
    • Chemical Changes May Identify Defects That Lead to Cancer
    • Smoking, High BMI Increase Risk of Hearing Loss

Deaths from lower respiratory disease fell 6.5 percent from 2005 to 2006, cases of stroke fell by 6.4 percent, heart disease by 5.5 percent, diabetes by 5.3 percent, and deaths from HIV/AIDS declined 4.8 percent from 2005.

The preliminary infant mortality rate for 2006 fell to 6.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, a 2.3 percent drop from the 2005 figure of 6.9, the CDC said.

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AP: Paul Newman Has Cancer

Actor Paul Newman has cancer, the Associated Press reported, citing Newman's longtime business partner.

"I know that it's a form of cancer," the wire service quoted writer A.E. Hotchner as saying, although he didn't specify the type of cancer. He said Newman was still undergoing treatment.

Newman put out a statement Tuesday that he was "doing nicely," but didn't address speculation that he had cancer.

Appearing last month at a practice for the Indianapolis 500 car race, Newman appeared to have lost a significant amount of weight, the AP said.

In the 1980s, Hotchner partnered with Newman to start "Newman's Own," a salad dressing company that has branched out to other food products. By 2007, the company had contributed more than $200 million in profits to charity, according to the "Newman's Own" Web site.

Hotchner told the AP that Newman had an operation a few years ago "somewhere in the area of the lung."

"Everybody is hopeful," he said of Newman's prognosis. "That's all we know."

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American Tab for Allergy Sufferers: $11 Billion

It may be nothing to sneeze at, but $11 billion is how much Americans spent on doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other medical costs to fight allergy symptoms, the federal government revealed Wednesday.

The total for 2005, the most recent year evaluated, was nearly double the $6 billion spent five years earlier, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said.

The analysis from the agency, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also found:

  • Some 22 million Americans visited a doctor, got a prescription drug, were hospitalized, or received home health care for allergy symptoms in 2005.
  • Some $7 billion was spent on prescription drugs, and the remaining $4 billion was divided among doctor visits and hospital outpatient care.
  • From 2000 to 2005, the annual average cost of allergy treatment rose from $350 per person to $520.

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Hong Kong, Fighting Bird Flu Outbreak, Orders Mass Chicken Cull

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