As part of Defense bill, amendments added to support cancer research and military mental health; a growing concern for whooping cause; plus, with climate change in focus a look at impact on arctic sea levels. Those stories and more in our health headlines today, Friday, November 30, 2012.

Washington Post – Senate approves amendment to expand military mental health care
The Senate has approved adding an amendment to the Defense authorization bill to require the Pentagon to create a comprehensive and standardized suicide prevention program. The amendment, which was offered by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman  Patty Murray (D-Wash.), was approved by voice vote Tuesday night and will be included in the bill being considered by the Senate.

The Hill – Cancer research bill adopted as defense bill amendment
A bipartisan cancer research measure was adopted as an amendment to the Senate defense bill, paving the way for its passage after nearly six years of work. The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act mandates that federal health officials create research frameworks for pancreatic and lung cancer, which have five-year survival rates of less than 50 percent. The bill began as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, a project of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who first introduced it three Congresses ago.

Miami News Record – National Influenza Vaccination Week begins Dec. 2
If you haven’t received your flu vaccination yet, the Ottawa County Health Department encourages you to get one next week during National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 2-8.

Time – Climate Change: Polar Ice Sheets Melting Faster, Raising Sea Levels
Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall on the East Coast a month ago yesterday, wasn’t a particularly powerful storm. But what it did have was water—lots of it. Sandy pushed record storm surges in places like lower Manhattan, and it was the flooding triggered by those surges—much more than the winds accompanying the storm—that caused the tens of billions of dollars in damages attributed to the Superstorm.

The Public’s Health – Why is whooping cough on the rise, and what can you do about it?
An old disease is back. Cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have more than tripled in the past five years, with 2012 on track to be the most severe in over a half-century. More than 37,000 cases have been reported so far – 37 times the number in 1976, which was the lowest since the introduction of vaccines dramatically reduced prevalence of the disease.

Columbus Dispatch -Study: Flu outbreaks could be forecast
New research suggests that it might be possible to forecast flu outbreaks in much the same way meteorologists predict weather, a potential boon for public-health officials and consumers, one of the study’s authors said. Using real-time U.S. data gathered by Google, along with a computer model showing how flu spreads, the researchers offered a system that could generate local forecasts of the severity and length of a particular flu outbreak.