The past year has seen many intriguing and sometimes dramatic stories involving the health of the world and Americans. Here is a review of some of the top health stories in 2009.
Shows like Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the infamous Octomom have brought families with multiples and in vitro fertilization to American televisions and some have even earned high ratings. Families with multiples seem to be on the rise and large families are becoming more widespread. Ethical questions have been raised by the possibility of keeping so many embryos alive intentionally when the original intent was just to have one baby and it might possibly be a burden on families. Jon and Kate Gosselin’s very public struggles with divorce have earned TLC some of its highest ratings ever despite the family’s tragic divorce, according to the show’s website.
Nothing has been more public in health care in 2009 than Congress taking up the cause of public financing of health insurance. Public option or not? Abortion funding or not? With round tables turning into shouting matches, the process has been problematic at best. Still, as of this writing the House has passed its versions of the bill and the Senate is still debating. Will Congress have a law passed before Christmas? Likely not because both chambers of Congress will need to go into conference committee to work out their differences. The government’s website is replete with information on this issue.
Recent reductions in the numbers of mammograms needed for women has come into controversy as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that regular mammograms are only needed for women over 50 instead of over age 40. Why was there suddenly a reduction? Answers have been speculated from the vile such as trying to reduce health care costs to studies showing that breast cancer isn’t a prevalent in women between ages 40 and 50, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trans fatty acids are still making headlines as leading causes of heart disease and clogged arteries. A new study in the American Heart Journal has discovered that trans fats can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in women.
Mercury levels in fish have been known for years, but this year such things as limits on eating tuna and salmon have begun to be regular occurrences according to the Centers for Disease Control. Not until the environment is cleaned up will mercury levels begin to drop and it becomes safe to eat fish on a more regular basis.
Food recalls have dominated headlines for many years now, but this year’s peanut butter recall and subsequent possible criminal action against Peanut Corporation of America in Georgia based upon government websites. Since the recall in January, civil actions and criminal charges have been filed against the company that allegedly knew of the contamination and shipped the peanut butter anyway.
Medical marijuana has become a topic in many states as some states are relaxing current marijuana laws and others are better defining who can and cannot be in possession of the controversial substance. California, Arizona, and Maine have all recently considered ballot measures regarding medical marijuana and more states are taking up the issue next year according to Ballotpedia.org.
Swine flu has definitely been the top headline in 2009. With more than 4,000 deaths reported and flu season has not even peaked yet, questions arise about how potent the H1N1 virus is and how effective vaccines are against it. The government’s flu website is a treasure trove of information for tracking the latest news on swine flu.
Health screenings such as mammograms and blood tests have come under scrutiny as cancer and cholesterol have become major issues in American’s health. Recent issues have come under fire claiming that Americans don’t need to be screened for health problems as often as originally thought, including for breast cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Body fat, good versus bad, has been in the forefront this year as trans fatty acids are being touted as bad and lower density fats are being touted as good according to Healthcastle.com. The end result has been a re-think on low-fat diets and meals as not necessarily the way to go in order to lose weight and regain health.
My sources include the Wall Street Journal’s health article on mammograms: online.wsj.com/article/SB126031689043682715.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
My other sources from government information include www.flu.gov, www.healthreform.gov, and the Centers for Disease Control.