Health Highlights: Jan. 18, 2016

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

Polio Eradication Possible in 2016: WHO Official

Polio could be eradicated this year, according to a World Health Organization official.

The agency recently contained outbreaks in Iraq, Somalia and Syria by immunizing millions of children over two years, and there is a chance to “finish polio forever,” this year, said Christopher Maher, head of the regional polio eradication program, the Associated Press reported.

While polio still occurs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the number of cases is declining, Maher noted.

He made the comments Sunday at the opening of a WHO regional center for health emergencies and polio eradication in Amman, Jordan, the AP reported.


Appeals Court Overturns Ruling on Menthol Cigarette Report

There was no legal basis for tobacco companies to challenge a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, according to a federal appeals court ruling released Friday.

The decision overturns a lower court ruling that backed allegations by cigarette makers Lorillard and Reynolds that some members of the FDA advisory committee that wrote the 2011 report had conflicts of interest because they had previously testified against tobacco companies in court, the Associated Press reported.

The advisory committee concluded that menthol flavoring leads to higher cigarette use, particularly among blacks, teens and low-income Americans, and that removing menthol would make it easier for some smokers to quit.

The new ruling may not have much impact. There have been a number of changes to advisory panel members, and the FDA conducted its own review of menthol cigarettes in 2013 and concluded they are a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes, the AP reported.

However, the FDA has not made any move to limit or ban menthol cigarettes, the news service said.