A new report places both Illinois and Missouri among the least health states in the nation.
The reports was released by the United Health Foundation and puts Illinois as the 30th healthiest state and Missouri in the 39th spot. The Show me State did move up one spot. The report says the state saw a decrease in smoking, binge drinking, and physical inactivity.
Smoking and high cardiovascular and cancer death rates remain problems for Missouri, and high levels of air pollution and binge drinking are trouble for Illinois.
The full report can be viewed here: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/
BOSTON (AP) — New research suggests that high levels of BPA, a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, might raise the risk of miscarriage in women prone to that problem or having trouble getting pregnant.
The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to "the biological plausibility" that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group's annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women.
BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicals can have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearly everyone's urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottles and many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other food containers.
Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome problems, and a study in mice suggested BPA might influence that risk, said Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University reproductive endocrinologist.
With a federal grant, she and other researchers studied 115 newly pregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage; 68 wound up having miscarriages and 47 had live births.
Researchers analyzed blood samples from when the women were discovered to be pregnant and divided them into four groups based on BPA levels. Women in the top quarter had an 80 percent greater risk of miscarriage compared to those in the bottom group even though they were similar in age and other factors. However, because the study is relatively small, there was a big range of possible risk — from only slightly elevated to as much as 10 times higher.
"It may be that women with higher BPA levels do have other risk factors" for miscarriage that might be amplified by BPA, Lathi said.
The study is not cause for alarm, but "it's far from reassuring that BPA is safe" for such women, she said.
To minimize BPA exposure, avoid cooking or warming food in plastic because heat helps the chemical leak out, she said. Don't leave water bottles in the sun, limit use of canned foods and avoid handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA.
"It's impossible to avoid it completely," Lathi said.
BPA info: http://1.usa.gov/QHrkfN
Infertility info: http://www.sart.org and
WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama has pushed America to eat healthier and to exercise more. Now she says we should "drink up" too. As in plain water. And as in more of it.
She's getting behind a campaign being announced Thursday by the Partnership for a Healthier America to encourage people to drink more water.
Organizers say too many people don't drink enough water daily and about one-fourth of kids below age 19 don't drink any water at all on any given day.
The first lady launched an initiative in 2010 to tackle childhood obesity. In the past, she has advocated switching from sugary sodas to water. But officials behind this new effort say it's strictly about getting people to drink more water — not about promoting water over other beverages.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Flu vaccination is no longer merely a choice between a jab in the arm or a squirt in the nose. This fall, some brands promise a little extra protection.
For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of flu rather than the usual three. Called quadrivalent vaccines, these brands may prove more popular for children than their parents. That's because kids tend to catch the newly added strain more often.
These four-in-one vaccines are so new that they'll make up only a fraction of the nation's supply of flu vaccine, so if you want a dose, better start looking early.
But that's only one of an unprecedented number of flu vaccine options available this year.
Allergic to eggs? Egg-free shots are hitting the market, too.
Plus there's growing interest in shots brewed just for the 65-and-older crowd, and a brand that targets the needle-phobic with just a skin-deep prick.
"We're moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual's age and condition," said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.
"The flip side of that," he said, is that "this will be a confusing year" as doctors and consumers alike try to choose.
Federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, starting at 6 months of age. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some questions and answers about the different vaccine varieties to choose from:
Q: What's the difference between those new four-strain vaccines and the regular kind?
A: For more than 30 years, the vaccine has offered protection against three influenza strains — two common Type A strains called H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B. Flu strains continually evolve, and the recipe for each year's vaccine includes the subtypes of those strains that experts consider most likely to cause illness that winter.
Type A flu causes more serious disease and deaths, especially the H3N2 form that made last year such a nasty flu season. But the milder Type B flu does sicken people every year as well, and can kill. Two distinct Type B families circulate the globe, making it difficult to know which to include in each year's vaccine. Adding both solves the guesswork, and a CDC model estimates it could prevent as many as 485 deaths a year depending on how much Type B flu is spreading.
Q: How can I tell if I'm getting the four-strain vaccine?
A: All of the nasal spray version sold in the U.S. this year will be this new variety, called FluMist Quadrivalent. The catch is that the nasal vaccine is only for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren't pregnant.
If you prefer a flu shot, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the four-strain kind is available. Younger children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions all can use flu shots. Four-strain versions are sold under the names Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent and FluLaval Quadrivalent.
Manufacturers anticipate producing between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccine this year. Only about 30 million doses will offer the four-strain protection.
Q: Who should seek it?
A: Type B flu tends to strike children more than the middle-aged, Poland noted. And he said it's not a bad idea for seniors, who are more vulnerable to influenza in general. But the CDC doesn't recommend one vaccine variety over another, and the American Academy of Pediatrics said either kind is fine — just get vaccinated.
Q: How are these new vaccines different from the high-dose flu shot for seniors?
A: Fluzone High-Dose protects against the traditional three strains of flu, but it quadruples the standard vaccine dose in an effort to rev up age-weakened immune systems don't respond as actively to regular flu shots.
The government calls the high-dose shot an option for seniors, not one that's proved better. Last week, Sanofi Pasteur said initial results from a study of 30,000 seniors vaccinated over the past two flu seasons suggest the high-dose shot is about 24 percent more effective. Federal health officials will have to review the full study results to see if they agree.
Q: What if I'm allergic to eggs?
A: Traditional flu vaccine is made from viruses grown in eggs, and specialists say it's usually not a problem unless someone has a serious egg allergy. But the new FluBlok vaccine eliminates that concern because it is made with cell technology, like many other nonflu vaccines. So far, it's only for use in people ages 18 to 49.
Q: What if I'm scared of needles?
A: If you don't qualify for the ouchless nasal spray vaccine, there is one shot made with a teeny-tiny needle that pricks the skin instead of muscle. Called Fluzone Intradermal, it's available for 18- to 64-year-olds, and protects against the usual three strains.
Q: How soon should I be vaccinated?
A: Early fall is ideal, as it's impossible to predict when flu will start spreading and it takes about two weeks for protection to kick in. But later isn't too late; flu season typically peaks in January or February.
Q: How much does flu vaccine cost?
A: The vaccine is covered by insurance, and Medicare and some plans don't require a copay. Drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $30; expect the quadrivalent versions to be slightly more expensive.
The voice of the Cardinals is recovering from a major operation.
The team confirms that Mike Shannon had heart surgery on Monday. Shannon is recovering well. The procedure was to replace an aortic valve.
Shannon says he plans on returning to the broadcasting booth on September 23. In the interim, Al Hrabosky, Rick Horton, and Mike Claiborne will join John Rooney on air. Shannon has been the Voice of the Cardinals since 1972.
CHICAGO (AP) - A pair of new Illinois laws will fund diabetes research and track economic costs of the disease.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bills Thursday at a conference organized by the University of Chicago Medicine's Kovler Diabetes Center.
One measure creates a special license plate. Just over half of the $40 cost of the plate will go to the Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund.
House minority leader Tom Cross sponsored the bill. He hopes the license plate will serve as a "moving billboard" for diabetes awareness.
The second bill requires the Illinois State Diabetes Commission to report regularly on the economic and social costs of diabetes and efforts to prevent the disease.
The laws take effect Jan. 1.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says about 800,000 state residents have diabetes.
MARYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Rep. John Shimkus' office says doctors performed two medical procedures on his heart after he noticed his heart was beating with an abnormal rhythm.
The Republican congressman's office say doctors in St. Louis earlier Tuesday performed an electrophysiology test and a procedure known as an ablation. An ablation is a non-surgical procedure used to correct an abnormal heart beat.
Shimkus' office says doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
Shimkus is at home in Collinsville and will miss all House of Representatives votes this week. He plans to return to a normal work schedule the week of July 15.
The 55 year old Shimkus represents Illinois 15th Congressional District. He's been a member of Congress since 1997.