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Health Care Reform Battle Tops Health News for 2011
Date:12/29/2011

but perhaps with an earpiece or speaker, away from the head.

There was more confusion on the cancer-screening front, as well, with the United States Preventive Services Task Force's recommendation in October against the use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood screen for men at average risk for prostate cancer.

Debate had raged for years over whether the PSA test was a useful tool to spot cancers, or whether too many men were now getting unnecessarily treated for slow-growing tumors that might never harm them.

Based on results from two major studies, the panel agreed with the latter argument. "This test cannot tell the difference between cancers that will and will not affect a man during his natural lifetime," panel chairwoman Dr. Virginia Moyer, told The New York Times.

Tobacco companies also took a hit in 2011, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposing graphic new cigarette-pack labeling, including photos of ill patients breathing through tracheotomy tubes, or ulcerated lips and mouths.

While such labeling has cut into smoking rates in other countries, it's unclear whether they'll ever appear in the United States: in November, a federal judge blocked the labels, saying their message crossed too far into advocacy. The Obama Administration has since appealed that decision.

Other health news highlights from the past year, as determined by the editors at HealthDay:

  • An outbreak of deadly listeria linked to tainted cantaloupes killed 30 people and sickened 146 more across the country earlier this fall; health officials blamed the outbreak on unsanitary conditions at the Colorado company that produced the fruit.
  • In February, a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that women with early breast cancer may not require the extensive removal of lymph nodes that often follows lumpectomy and radiation. Lymph node removal can cause a debilit
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