Health Highlights: May 22, 2019

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

Cancer Death Rates Down, Heart Disease Death Rates Up for American Adults

Cancer deaths among middle-aged adults are falling in the United States, but heart disease deaths have increased in recent years, a new federal government report released Thursday finds.

From 1999 to 2017, there was a 19% drop in cancer deaths among adults aged 45 to 64. Heart disease deaths in this age group fell 22% between 1999 and 2011, but increased 4% by 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported.

Both women and men had similar patterns of decline in cancer deaths and recent rises in heart disease deaths.

The largest increase (12%) in heart disease deaths was in white women, while Hispanic women had a decline. Blacks had the highest rates among women, and blacks had the largest increase among men, CNN reported.

During the study period, cancer death rates were still higher than heart disease death rates.

Cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death among middle-aged Americans, accounting for about half of all deaths, according to the CDC.


Starbucks Sued Over Alleged Use of Pest Control Strips Near Food

Two lawsuits claim that Starbucks stores in New York City placed pest-control strips near bagels, pastries and coffee drinks.

The lawsuits claim the strips, used to control fruit flies and other insects, put the health of employees and customers in danger, CBS News reported.

“Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos, which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 customers in New York State Supreme Court.

The pesticide is an active ingredient in No-Pest Strips. The product’s label says it’s not meant for use near people or where food is prepared, CBS News reported.

The second lawsuit seeks monetary damages for a worker and supervisor of a pest control company contracted by Starbucks in New York from 2013 to 2018, and a former Starbucks manager allegedly fired after raising concerns about use of the pest-control strips.

When Starbucks learned about the use of pest-control products that violated the company’s standards, it removed them from its stores, a Starbucks spokesperson told CBS News.


Bill Would Raise U.S. Legal Age to Buy Tobacco to 21

A bill to raise the minimum age for buying any type of tobacco product, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21 was introduced Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The proposed bipartisan legislation comes at a time when soaring underage use of e-cigarettes has health experts alarmed, the Associated Press reported.

McConnell’s home state of Kentucky was long one of leading tobacco producers in the country, but he said passage of the bill is “one of my highest priorities.”

“Kentucky farmers don’t want their children to get hooked on tobacco products while they’re in middle school or high school any more than any parents anywhere want that to happen,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, the AP reported.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., another state that’s been a major tobacco producer.

Fourteen states have enacted laws raising the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21, according to the anti-smoking Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Similar action has been taken by 470 municipalities, the AP reported.

A recent federal government survey found that 1 in 5 U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes the previous month. Most e-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine, which can harm young people’s brain development and may increase their risk of smoking cigarettes later in life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Youth vaping is a public health crisis,” McConnell said Monday. “It’s our responsibility as parents and public servants to do everything we can to keep these harmful products out of high schools and out of youth culture.”

The American Cancer Society’s advocacy organization, the Cancer Action Network, said the bill is a “welcome indication that Congress is taking the alarming crisis of increased youth tobacco use seriously and is committed to taking action,” the AP reported.

But it warned against including amendments that could override stronger restrictions by states and municipalities, exempt some young people or exclude certain products.