Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Aspartame in Diet Sodas is Safe, Report Says
It's safe to consume the artificial sweetener aspartame at
levels currently used in diet sodas, according to the European Food
The agency's conclusion, announced Tuesday after a major review
of evidence, ruled out any "potential risk of aspartame causing
damage to genes and inducing cancer," the
Aspartame, also known under the brand name NutraSweet, is the
sweetener used in Diet Coke. Sales of the drink declined after
other studies showed that aspartame might be a health threat.
Coca Cola Co. recently launched an advertising campaign to ease
consumers' fears about Diet Coke, the
States' Spending on Antismoking Programs Decreasing: Report
Only a small portion of money from tobacco taxes and settlements
with tobacco companies is being used by states for antismoking
programs, according to a report by an coalition of advocacy
They said that in 2014, states would earn about $25 billion in
this type of revenue but are expected to spend only $481 million on
programs to prevent or reduce tobacco use. That's far below the
$3.7 billion recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and
The New York Timesreported.
In 2002, states spent $750 million on anti-smoking efforts.
Next year, only Alaska and North Dakota are set to meet the CDC
recommendations for tobacco prevention spending, according to the
report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation and four other anti-smoking groups.
"I would call it horrible health policy and horrible fiscal
policy," Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told
The Times"They are passing up an opportunity to save lives,
save suffering and save health care dollars for the state."
White House Announces $100M More for Mental Health as Newton
Shooting Anniversary Nears
Increased funding for mental health will be promised by Vice
President Joe Biden as the first anniversary of the shooting at
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. approaches.
When he meets relatives of shooting victims at the White House
on Tuesday, Biden will announce that $100 million will become
available to improve access and quality of mental health services,
That will include $50 million through the Affordable Care Act to
help community health centers hire care providers and add services
for people with mental illness and addiction. The other $50 million
will help finance rural mental health facilities.
Efforts to strengthen gun control failed following the Dec. 14,
2012 Newton shooting. Since then, the Obama administration has made
mental health a major part of its efforts to reduce gun violence,
Singer Susan Boyle has Asperger's Syndrome
Scottish singer Susan Boyle has revealed that she's been
diagnosed with a mild form of autism called Asperger's syndrome,
which affects social and communication skills.
Boyle, 52, had learning disabilities as a child and was told
that this was the result of oxygen deprivation at birth. But a year
ago, she went to see a specialist and learned that she had an above
average IQ, Boyle said in an interview with the U.K. newspaper
The Observer, the
Los Angeles Timesreported.
"I was told I had brain damage. It was the wrong diagnosis when
I was a kid," she told the
Observer. "I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have
a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a
bit more relaxed about myself."
Boyle rose to fame in 2009 when her audition for "Britain's Got
Talent" TV show went viral, the
The Asperger's diagnosis "will not make any difference to my
life. It's just a condition that I have to live with and work
through," Boyle said. "I think people will treat me better because
they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I
do the things I do."
Princeton Students Begin Getting Meningitis Shots
Nearly 2,000 Princeton University students received shots
against bacterial meningitis on Monday, which was the first day of
a free vaccination program meant to stop an outbreak of type B
meningitis at the school.
The initial round of voluntary vaccinations will continue
through Thursday, and a booster will be given in February. The
vaccine is being offered to nearly 6,000 students, the
Since March, seven students and one prospective student who
visited the campus became ill with potentially fatal type B
meningococcal disease. No one has died.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending
that students get the shots, the
APreported. The vaccine is called Bexsero, which is approved
in Europe and Australia but not in the United States. However, the
CDC has approved the vaccine for use at Princeton.
Group Urges Filming Halt After Another Porn Actor Tests Positive
A porn film advocacy group has called for another moratorium on
filming after an actor became the third to positive for HIV this
The Free Speech Coalition said filming should be stopped while
all the actor's possible partners are tested. The group did not
release the name or any other details about the actor, who came up
positive at one of the coalition's testing centers, the
The request for a moratorium isn't binding, but industry members
In August, an adult film actress who used the name Cameron Bay
tested positive for HIV. Her on-screen partners tested negative but
boyfriend and fellow performer Rod Daily announced he had also
tested positive for HIV,