Health Highlights: March 9, 2017

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

CDC Would Lose $1 Billion Under Affordable Care Act Repeal Bill

The Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care act will eliminate nearly $1 billion in funding used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a number of health initiatives, public health advocates say.

The $1 billion represents 12 percent of the CDC’s budget and is used for immunization, heart disease and stroke prevention, diabetes prevention, and lead poisoning prevention, mostly through grants to states and local programs, CNN reported.

Losing the funding, created under the Affordable Care Act, would hamper detection, prevention and response to health threats, including pandemic flu, according to the CDC.

The funding is “a must for keeping states and communities healthy and safe,” and one- quarter of the block grants support programs that strengthen responses to “public health threats,” the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials said.

Republicans say their new health care bill includes a new fund for states to deal with local health issues, CNN reported.


Strawberries Have Most Pesticides: Report

Strawberries have the highest level of pesticide contamination in produce while sweet corn and avocados have the lowest levels, according to an annual report from the Environmental Working Group.

They tested 36,000 samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce and found that nearly 70 percent had pesticide residues, a 6.6 percent decline from last year, CNN reported.

Strawberries contained at least 20 pesticides. The other types of produce on the group’s “Dirty Dozen” list included spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.

The “Clean Fifteen” list included sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit, CNN reported.

Only 1 percent of avocado and sweet corn samples had any detectable pesticides, and more than 80 percent of pineapple, papaya, asparagus, onion and cabbage samples had no pesticide residue.

Consumers should buy organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group.

“If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release, CNN reported.


Climate Change a Factor in Unusually Warm February

Climate change played a role in the abnormally warm February in the United States, experts say.

More than 11,700 daily records for warmth were broken nationwide and the average temperature in February was 41.2 degrees, which is 7.3 degrees warmer than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Associated Press reported.

However, the average temperature last month was three-tenths a degree below the warmest February on record, which occurred in 1954.

A computer analysis by an international team of scientists called World Weather Attribution determined that man-made climate change tripled the chances of the unusually warm February in the U.S.

“I don’t recall ever seeing a February like this,” team member and Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi told the AP. “We expect this to happen with more and more frequency over time.”

“This is the new climate normal that we all need to come to grips with,” Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley told the AP. “And it’s stunning how quickly our climate has changed.”

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