Health Highlights: Jan. 20, 2014

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

Chinese Health Worker Dies From Bird Flu, Upping Fears of Person-to-Person Spread

The H7N9 bird flu virus has killed a medical worker at a hospital in Shanghai, China and there are concerns that the virus may have spread from person to person.

Officials said that the 31-year-old man died on Jan. 18 and also noted that there have been seven cases of H7N9 infection in people so far this year, Bloomberg News reported.

Human cases of H7N9 were first reported in China in March, 2013 and peaked in April before live poultry markets were closed in order to limit people's exposure to the virus. Since the start of the outbreak, there have been 199 laboratory-confirmed cases and 52 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

"It's always a concern when health workers die," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told Bloomberg. "Hospitals and other medical facilities are a flash point for human-to-human transmission. We would be very much wanting to follow up in as much detail as possible on this case."


Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol: Obama

Marijuana is not more dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer," President Barack Obama said in an interview with The New Yorker magazine.

He also said that marijuana users shouldn't be jailed for long periods of time when officials who create drug laws "have probably done the same thing," the Associated Press reported.

"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," the Obama said the interview.

The president also noted that smoking marijuana is "not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy."

Obama said he is troubled that minority youth have disproportionately high rates of arrest and imprisonment for marijuana use, the AP reported.

"Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties."


Kraft Velveeta 'Cheesy Skillets Singles-Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac' Recalled

About 1.7 million pounds of Kraft Velveeta "Cheesy Skillets Singles-Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac" is being recalled because it may contain an undeclared allergen, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

The macaroni and cheese product comes in 9-ounce microwaveable containers that were produced by Truitt Brothers Inc. of Kentucky between May 6, 2013 and Jan. 16, 2014 and shipped to Kraft Foods distribution centers and retail locations across the United States. They have a Used By/Sell By date code of "02 MARCH 2014 23 OCT 2014."

The recalled food was made with the known allergens hydrolyzed soy protein and dried soy sauce, which are not declared on some labels. No reports of health problems linked to the consumption of these products have been reported to the FSIS or the company.

No other Kraft or Velveeta products are affected by this recall. For more information, consumers can call the Kraft Foods Consumer Relations Center at 1-800-396-5512.


Two Controversial Chemicals Removed From Johnson & Johnson Baby Products

Two potentially harmful chemicals have been removed from baby shampoo and 100 other baby products sold by Johnson & Johnson.

The two chemicals -- formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane -- have come under increasing scrutiny by consumers and environmental groups, The New York Times reported.

In response to pressure, Johnson & Johnson promised to remove both chemicals from its baby products by the end of 2013, and says it has met that goal. The new products are appearing on store shelves and will replace existing products over the next several months.

The company also pledged to remove these and other chemicals from all of its consumer products by 2015, The Times reported.

Monday, January 20, 2014

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