Top 9 Health Stories of 2010

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FDA Oversight on Food Safety

An estimated 87 million Americans are sickened by contaminated food, and 5,700 die from food-related disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But supporters of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which has already passed in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, hope greater food industry oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will change that.

Among the provisions of the bill, the FDA would have authority to order mandatory recall of tainted foods and set safety standards for raw produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. The agency would also increase inspections of domestic and foreign food facilities.

But many food industry companies are particularly concerned with the Tester Amendment, a part of the bill that would exempt smaller food producers and those that distribute locally.

Food Industry Questions Exemptions

"The consequences of inadequate food safety precautions have no boundaries as to size of operation, geography nor commodity," 19 food industry organizations said in a letter to House leaders in November 2010.

Still, both the House and Senate committees passed the bill. The bill is expected to be signed into law in early 2011 by President Obama, who has already expressed his approval of the bill.

Changing the Way We Do CPR: Hard and Fast

Providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) -- a combination of mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions -- immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

But less than one-third of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital receive CPR from a bystander.

"I think there's some fear of getting it wrong," said Dr. Richard Page, former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and current chairman of the Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin.

But two new studies published July 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that if you're not sure how to properly administer CPR, chest compressions alone may be as effective, if not more effective, than the traditional CPR, which calls for both chest pumping and rescue breathing.

Many studies suggest that bystanders are more willing to attempt resuscitation if mouth-to-mouth ventilations are not required.

Rescue breathing is not appropriate in all first aid situations and may waste time especially if done by someone inexperienced in traditional CPR, said Dr. Michael Sayre, associate professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University.

"We really could save thousands of lives across the country if we could just get more people to do something simple like push hard and fast on the center of the victim's chest," Sayre said.

For a schedule of CPR classes in your area, visit the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

For a cheat sheet on chest compressions and CPR, visit here.

New Way to Prevent HIV

In 2008, more than 42,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with HIV. Nearly half of those infected were men who engaged in sex with other men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Condom use "has already decreased due to HIV treatment being so effective," said Dr. Tom Coates, director of the UCLA program in global health.

"HIV prevention is already not working all that well among gay men," Coates said.

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