The U.S. Supreme Court OKs graphic cigarette warning labels; report shows health risks of popular “cinnamon challenge”; and after recent case in China, H7N9 virus is now responsible for 22 deaths. These stories and more top public health news on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

Wall Street JournalSupreme Court lets FDA move forward with graphic cigarette warnings and other tobacco regulations
In a victory for the nation’s health, the U.S. Supreme Court today let stand an appellate court ruling that upheld most provisions of the landmark 2009 law granting the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, including the requirement for large, graphic cigarette warning labels. The Supreme Court declined to hear the tobacco industry’s appeal of a March 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This decision allows the FDA to move forward with developing new graphic cigarette warnings that comply with both the 2009 law and recent court rulings. The FDA should quickly do so. While the Sixth Circuit upheld the law’s requirement for graphic warnings, a separate ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit blocked the specific warnings the FDA proposed. The 2009 law requires graphic warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of cigarette ads. The Sixth Circuit ruling found that the required warnings “are reasonably related to the government’s interest in preventing consumer deception and are therefore constitutional.” The warnings “do not impose any restriction on Plaintiff’s dissemination of speech, nor do they touch on Plaintiffs’ core speech. Instead, the labels serve as disclaimers to the public regarding the incontestable health consequences of using tobacco.”

Chicago TributeReport in Pediatrics lays out “cinnamon challenge” health risks
The cough-inducing effects of taking the “cinnamon challenge,” in which thrill-seekers try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without water in less than a minute, can be seen all over the Internet. Some health experts have voiced concerns over the dare taken on mostly by teenagers, but the lead researcher in a new report to be published online Monday says it may lead to inflamed and scarred tissue common in lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. The report, whose results will also be published in an article in the May edition of the Pediatrics health journal, was based on testing with rats. Dr. Steven Lipshultz, the lead researcher, said the rats were made to breathe in cinnamon powder one time, then were followed as they aged. “(The) cinnamon would coat the airways and the lungs (of the animals) and it would lead to inflammation,” Lipshultz said. “It wouldn’t stop there. The inflammation led to scarring in the lungs, something called pulmonary fibrosis.” The lung disease, which causes shortness of breath and chronic coughing, can lead to hypoxia and, eventually, heart failure.

ReutersChina bird flu death toll rises to 22
An elderly man in eastern China died of bird flu on Tuesday, bringing the death toll from a strain that recently emerged in humans to 22, a provincial health agency reported. The 86-year-old man died after having been diagnosed with the H7N9 virus on April 17, the Zhejiang Health Bureau said on its website. Two others in Zhejiang have been diagnosed with the disease, including an 84-year-old man and a 62-year-old man, both of Hangzhou who fell ill on April 15, the health bureau said. In neighboring Anhui province, another case was diagnosed on Tuesday, a 91-year-old man, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. The man became sick on April 14, Xinhua said. So far 109 people have contracted the disease since the first deaths were reported in China last month. Authorities say many of those who became sick worked with poultry.

Science RecorderPoll: Forty percent of parents give young kids medicines they shouldn’t
Are you giving your kids medicines that shouldn’t be used? It turns out that a lot of parents are. According to the latest University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, more than 40 percents of parents give young kids (under the age of four) medicine that they shouldn’t. These parents reported administering cough medicine or various multi-symptom cough and cold medicines to their children. The poll also revealed that 25 percent of these parents reported giving their children decongestants. According to a news release from the University of Michigan Health System, kids can get five to 10 colds annually, so it makes sense that many parents try over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to mitigate their children’s symptoms.

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