Check in with us as we feature the latest trends, research and news in medicine, health and science. A team of Star Tribune staffers will aggregate updates from news wires, websites, magazines and medical journals.

Four Minnesota hospitals designated for Ebola treatment

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: December 2, 2014 - 2:06 PM

State health officials throughout the U.S. have identified and designated 35 hospitals with Ebola treatment centers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More are expected to be designated.

The hospitals were chosen as treatment facilities for Ebola patients based on a collaborative decision with local health authorities and the hospital administration.

“As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director.

The hospitals in Minnesota are:

  • Allina Health’s Unity Hospital; Fridley
  • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota – St. Paul Campus, St. Paul
  • Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester, Saint Mary's Campus; Rochester
  • University of Minnesota Medical Center, West Bank Campus; Minneapolis

Click here to see the full list.

Calorie counts coming to more menus

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: November 25, 2014 - 11:06 AM

The Food and Drug Administration is announcing new rules requiring chain restaurants, movie theaters and other retailers that sell prepared foods to put calorie labels on menus and menu boards. The rules will only apply to establishments that have 20 or more locations.

Here's what will be labeled with calorie information -- and what won't -- under the new rules.

What will be labeled:

  •  Menu items at chain restaurants, including drive-through and takeout boards.
  •  Drinks on menus, and soda dispensers.
  •  Some alcoholic beverages on menus.
  •  Most prepared foods in supermarkets, convenience stores.
  •  Concessions at movie theaters, amusement parks that are part of larger chains.
  •  Displays of food, such as pastries, at coffee chains like Starbucks.
  •  Food prepared on site at large retail outlets, such as Target and Costco.

Foods that won't be labeled with calorie information:

  •  Menu items at independent restaurants with fewer than 20 outlets.
  •  Seasonal or daily specials at chain restaurants.
  •  Items not on a menu at a chain restaurant, such as a bread basket or drinks at the bar.
  •  Food on airplanes, trains.
  •  Food on food trucks.
  •  Deli meats, cheeses and bulk salads at grocery stores.


Fewer high school students smoking

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: November 10, 2014 - 10:56 AM

In the steepest decline ever found in Minnesota, the percent of high school students who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days dropped from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2014.

The 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey also found fewer young people used used chewing tobacco and cigars between 2011 and 2014.  

Efforts to curb cigarette smoking appear to be helping. They include a 2013 tobacco tax, bans on indoor smoking, and tighter restrictions on youth access to tobacco products.

For the first time, the survey also asked about e-cigarette use and found that 12.9 percent of high school students used or tried an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days. The survey found that 28 percent of high school students reported ever having tried an e-cigarette.

"These new findings indicate that our statewide efforts to reduce and prevent conventional tobacco use among Minnesota children are working," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "At the same time, we are seeing a wild-west approach toward e-cigarettes, which allows tobacco companies unlimited marketing access to young men and women. This has led to increasing numbers of Minnesota high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes."

An estimated 85,900 Minnesota public school students in grades 6-12 have tried e-cigarettes, and 38,400 reported using them in the past 30 days. Nicotine is known to harm adolescent brain development. Nearly one-fourth of high school students who have tried an e-cigarette have never tried another tobacco product.

Read more from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Chicken blamed for salmonella cases in Minnesota

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: October 23, 2014 - 2:01 PM

Antioch Farms brand A La Kiev raw stuffed chicken breast has been linked to six recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota. 

The chicken entree, sold at many grocery store chains, is frozen, breaded, pre-browned and stuffed, but raw. The suspected brand has a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamped code of P-1358. 

Investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture linked six cases of salmonella infection from August and September to the same strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person was hospitalized. About 700 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in Minnesota.   

Six outbreaks of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to these types of products from 1998 through 2008. This is the first outbreak since improvements were made in 2008 to the labeling of these products. The current labels clearly state that the product is raw. All raw poultry products need to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Consumers can find more information about safe food-handling practices on the MDH website,

Drinking soda speeds up aging, study shows

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: October 20, 2014 - 11:46 AM

You knew that drinking sugary sodas could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks — but it may also speed up your body’s aging process.

As you age, caps on the end your chromosomes called telomeres shrink. In the past several years, researchers at the University of California at San Francisc, have analyzed stored DNA from more than 5,300 healthy Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from about 14 years ago. And they discovered that those who drank more pop tended to have shorter telomeres.

The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate — and so, the body ages.

“We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight,” said psychiatry professor Elissa Epel, senior author of the study.

According to the research, drinking a 20-ounce bubbly beverage every day is linked to 4.6 years of additional aging. You get the same effect by smoking, said UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, lead author of the study. About 21 percent in the sample said they drank at least that much soda each day. However, researchers say, a link does not mean causation.

Scientists found no link between cell aging and drinking diet sodas or fruit juices. But Epel said the results might be different with more modern data.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.



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