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Health Care Reform, Swine Flu Top Health News for 2009
Date:12/30/2009

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5. Fears Over Radiation Risk from CT Scans. American medicine's decades-long love affair with the CT scan may be waning, with numerous new studies suggesting that as CT use has exploded, cancer risks linked to radiation from the scans have likewise surged. In fact, one study published in December in the Archives of Internal Medicine estimated that 29,000 future cancer cases could be linked to CT scans performed in 2007 alone.

6. FDA Gains Oversight of Tobacco Products. In a move anti-smoking advocates have been lobbying to see for decades, President Obama in June granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight over cigarettes and other tobacco products. The agency's clout in helping to curb smoking -- especially among the young -- remains to be seen, but American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown called the move "a bold and courageous step."

7. Worries Over Two Common Plastics Chemicals. New findings on health effects from bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates -- ubiquitous chemicals found in items such as baby bottles, children's toys and eating utensils -- sparked public fears this year. Researchers found high levels of BPA tied to impotence in men, aggression in young girls, infertility and arrhythmias; while phthalates were associated with "feminized" play and breast development in boys. Consumer advocates called for bans on both substances, but the chemicals industry defended their use, saying much more study was needed to prove a link.

8. Good News, Bad News in the Fight Against Autism. Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders received a mixed bag of news in 2009. In February, a federal judge ruled out any connection between childhood vaccination and the developmental disorder, a clear setback for families who have long claimed a link. And in December, researchers at the CDC found that the number of 8-year-olds with autism jumped 57 percent between 2002 and
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