Dec 8 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: December 8

HHS Secretary Rules Against OTC “Morning After” Pill for Younger Teens

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday rejected an application to make Plan B, an emergency contraceptive pill, available without a prescription for girls younger than 17. The drug is already approved for sale without a prescription for girls and women over the age of 17. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had planned to approve the availability for younger girls. HHS Secretaries are permitted to overrule an FDA decision, though this is the first time a Secretary has done so, according to the FDA. Read more on sexual health.

IOM Issues Report on Environmental Factors Linked to Breast Cancer

Women may be able to reduce their risk for breast cancer by avoiding unnecessary medical radiation, avoiding use of use of combination estrogen-progestin menopausal hormone therapy, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco use, according to a new report on environmental risk factors for breast cancer released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine.

According to the new report, evidence also indicates a possible link to increased risk for breast cancer from exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and ethylene oxide, which are chemicals found in some workplace settings and in gasoline fumes, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. But avoiding personal use of hair dyes and non-ionizing radiation emitted by mobile devices and other technologies probably do not impact a woman’s risk for breast cancer, and there is insufficient data on the link between some other chemicals and an increased risk for breast cancer including bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, ingredients in cosmetics and dietary supplements. Get more news on developments in cancer research and prevention.

USDA Announces University Grants to Improve Food Safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 17 grants to universities in 13 states aimed at improving the safety of the U.S. food supply. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants, which focus on areas including laboratory research and grower and consumer education. Read more on food safety.

Tags: Environment, Food Safety, Health and Human Services, News roundups, Public health, Sexual Health