Health Highlights: March 12, 2010

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Settlement in Ground Zero Lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit by thousands of Ground Zero rescue and cleanup workers against New York City.

The settlement of up to $675.5 million would compensate about 10,000 plaintiffs who say their health was damaged by exposure to contaminants at the World Trade Center site, The New York Times reported.

The amount received by each plaintiff, which would vary from thousands of dollars to more than $1 million, would be determined according to the severity of their illnesses.

If all the plaintiffs agree to the terms of the settlement, the total settlement would be $657.5 million. If only the required 95 percent agree, the total would be $575 million, The Times reported.


Rudolph Bracelets Have High Levels of Cadmium: CPSC

Charm bracelets that feature characters from the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" TV movie contain high levels of the toxic metal cadmium and should be thrown away, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Cadmium is a cancer-causing chemical that also can damage kidneys and bones.

The CPSC said the Rudolph-themed chain-link bracelets were sold at dollar-type stores between 2006 and March 2009, the Associated Press reported. There have been no known cadmium poisonings associated with the bracelets.

The agency said it doesn't know how many Rudolph bracelets were sold in the United States because the company that imported them from China went out of business.

The amount of lead that can be used in children's jewelry is tightly restricted by U.S. law, but there's no explicit ban on the use of cadmium, the AP reported.


Men Feel Less Guilt Than Women

Women experience more guilt than men, according to a Spanish study that included 360 men and women from three age groups.

The participants were given a number of potentially guilt-inducing scenarios and asked to describe how they would feel in each situation, reported.

Based on the responses, the researchers at the University of the Basque Country concluded that "habitual guilt (a kind of internalized feeling of guilt) was more intense in women than in men in all three age groups studied."

Interpersonal guilt (related to how our action or inaction affects others) was "significantly more intense in women than in men in the adolescent group, and in the 25-33 age group, the pattern of results was similar."

Older men and older women had similar levels of interpersonal guilt, reported.

"This study highlights the need for educational practices and socializing agents to reduce the tendency towards anxious-aggressive guilt in women, and to promote interpersonal sensitivity in men," the researchers concluded.

The study appeared in a recent issue of The Spanish Journal of Psychology.


More Food Products Added to Recall List

About 1.7 million pounds of ready-to-eat beef taquito and chicken quesadilla products and 115,700 pounds of Tornados Ranchero Beef & Cheese roll-ups from Texas-based Ruiz Foods have been added to a recall of food products that contain a flavoring ingredient possibly contaminated with salmonella.

The ingredient -- hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) -- was made by Basic Food Flavors of Las Vegas. On March 4, the company announced a recall of its entire production of HVP dating to Feb. 17, 2009, USA Today reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuously updating the list of recalled foods that contain the ingredient. To date, the list contains 105 products, including gravy mixes, snacks, soups, bouillons, dip mixes, salad dressings and ready-to-eat foods.

An FDA inspection report released this week said that Basic Food Flavors knew about salmonella contamination at its plant as early as Jan. 21, but continued to distribute HVP paste and powder products until Feb. 15, USA Today reported.

The FDA says there have been no illnesses associated with food products containing the recalled HVP.


Grocery Store Shopper Cards Used to Identify Salmonella Source

For the first time in a food safety investigation, U.S. officials used grocery store shopper cards to trace the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 245 people in 44 states.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigators got permission from patients to use their shopper cards to track their food purchases. Using this information, the CDC team was led to salami made by a Rhode Island company and then determined that pepper used to season the meat was the source of the salmonella, the Associated Press reported.

This is the first time that data compiled by supermarket chains were successfully used by the CDC to pinpoint the source of a foodborne illness outbreak.

"It was really exciting. It was a break in the investigation for sure," CDC epidemiologist Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP.

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