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Dubious Drugs, Tainted Foods Top 2008's Health Stories
Date:12/31/2008

Another study suggested that mammograms often pick up breast cancers that, if left alone, would regress on their own. And a third report found that colonoscopy could miss as many as 40 percent of tumors, because it has a "blind spot" for growths on the right side of the colon.

Take Your Vitamins? Maybe Not

A flurry of trials released late in the year suggested that vitamins A, C, and E do not cut users' cancer risk, and vitamin B won't help ward off either Alzheimer's or heart disease. On the up side, one major trial touted vitamin D's power to help the heart.

Imported Foods, Drugs Raise Alarms

A summer outbreak of salmonella sickened more than 1,400 Americans and was finally traced to tainted jalapeno and serrano peppers imported from Mexico. Even more troubling were the 81 U.S. deaths attributed to the blood-thinner heparin -- deliberately contaminated with a man-made chemical during the manufacturing process in China. China faced its own worries, as thousands of babies in that country were fed milk tainted with another contraband "filler," melamine. No U.S. children were affected, the FDA said.

Over-the-Counter Cold Meds Not for the Very Young

In October, major manufacturers and the FDA announced that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used by children younger than 4 years old. The move came as welcome news to pediatricians, who had long pointed to data suggesting that the remedies don't help ease cold symptoms in kids, and in rare cases may even cause harm.

Progress in the War Against Cancer, Heart Disease

Perhaps the best health news of 2008 came in a report released by the American Cancer Society in November. It found that, for the first time since statistics began to be compiled in 1998, the number of U.S. men and women who developed cancer or died from the disease actually dropped. And two weeks later, the American Heart
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