In Brief

April 13, 2009

Produce-linked food poisonings on the rise

Americans didn't suffer more food poisoning last year despite high-profile outbreaks involving peppers, peanut butter and other foods, according to a new government report.

Rates of food-borne illnesses have been holding steady for four years. They had been declining from the mid-1990s until the beginning of this decade, mainly because of improvements in the meat and poultry industry, some experts say.

But produce-associated food poisonings have been increasing, and the nation is no longer making progress against food-borne disease rates, said Elliot Ryser, a professor of food science at Michigan State University.

"I was not surprised," Ryser said, referring to the new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report looks at the occurrence of 10 leading food-borne illnesses in 10 states that participate in a federally funded food poisoning monitoring system. CDC officials believe it's nationally representative, based on the sample's mix of geography and demographics. The research appeared in last week's issue of a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Salmonella remained the most common cause of food poisoning, causing more than 7,400 lab-confirmed illnesses in those states. That translates to a rate of about 16 cases for every 100,000 people. Most experts say those numbers are lower than reality, however, because only a fraction of food-poisoning cases get reported or confirmed by laboratories.

Associated Press

Melanoma and young British women

Melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, is now the most common cancer in young British women, the country's leading cancer organization said Wednesday. Skin cancer has overtaken cervical cancer as the top cancer striking women in their 20s, according to the latest data from Cancer Research United Kingdom.

The trend is particularly worrying because younger people are not generally those most susceptible to melanoma. Rates of skin cancer are typically highest in people over age 75.

But experts worry that increasing numbers of younger people being diagnosed with skin cancer could be the start of a dangerous trend. Women in their 20s make up a small percentage of all patients diagnosed with melanoma in Britain, but nearly a third of all cases occur in people younger than 50. Based on current numbers, Cancer Research UK predicts that melanoma will become the fourth most common cancer for men and women of all ages by 2024.

Cancer experts attribute the rising number of skin cancer cases largely to the surge in people using tanning salons.

Associated Press

Dieters need to watch what they drink

If you're trying to lose weight, what you drink may be more important than what you eat, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In an 18-month study of 810 adults age 25-79, researchers examined the relationship between beverage consumption and weight change. They found that the amount of calories in beverages the subjects drank had a stronger impact on weight than the amount of calories in solid foods.

"Both liquid and solid calories were associated with weight change. However, only a reduction in liquid calorie intake was shown to significantly affect weight loss during the six-month follow up," said Dr. Benjamin Caballero, lead author of the study and a professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health. "A reduction in liquid calorie intake was associated with a weight loss of 0.25 kilogram at six months and 0.24 kilogram at 18 months. Among sugar-sweetened beverages, a reduction of one serving was associated with a weight loss of 0.5 kilogram at six months and 0.7 kilogram at 18 months. Of the seven types of beverages examined, sugar-sweetened beverages were the only beverages significantly associated with weight change."

The results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sun staff

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