Productivity Losses Rise

For Smoking Deaths in U.S.

Smoking deaths cost the United States about $92 billion in lost productivity in the five years ending in 2001, up about $10 billion from the 1995 to 1999 period, federal health researchers said yesterday.

At the same time, the number of U.S. smoking deaths declined slightly, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report found 438,000 premature deaths each year from smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke from 1997 to 2001, down from about 440,000 deaths annually from 1995 to 1999.

The rise in productivity losses reflected inflation and higher wages, said Ann Malarcher, senior scientific adviser in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

A CDC survey released in May found that 21.6 percent of U.S. adults said they smoked in 2003, down from 22.5 percent in 2002.

Whooping Cough Booster

Is Recommended for Youths

Confronted with a surge in whooping cough among teenagers and adults, a government advisory panel recommended yesterday that young people get a booster shot against the disease between the ages of 11 and 18.

Currently, youngsters get a series of whooping cough vaccinations through age 6. But the protection eventually wears off.

As a result, the number of cases among U.S. adults 20 and older nearly doubled to 5,365 in 2004 from the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A panel that advises the CDC on immunization practices endorsed adding whooping cough vaccine to the tetanus and diphtheria booster shot children get after age 11.

In the past two months, the FDA has approved two whooping cough booster vaccines for adolescents and beyond, Boostrix and Adacel.

Whooping cough, a highly contagious disease also known as pertussis, can be fatal to young children. Vaccinations have dramatically reduced its incidence among babies and toddlers.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Gastric bypass surgery to treat obesity lowers the risk of heart disease more than previously believed, researchers said yesterday.

Patients who got the surgery showed improved levels of three new measures of heart disease risk: C-reactive protein, lipoprotein A and homocysteine, the team at Stanford University School of Medicine found.

They measured these proteins, as well as cholesterol levels, in 371 patients before surgery and again a year later and found improvements to normal range in all of them.

"Medication with statins . . . lowers C-reactive protein by about 16 percent," said John Morton, an assistant professor of surgery at Stanford. "But we found that gastric bypass lowered it by 50 percent."

Morton's colleague Brandon Williams presented the data to an American Society for Bariatric Surgery meeting in Orlando.

Gastric bypass surgery makes the stomach smaller so patients can eat less, and it cuts out a long stretch of small intestine so fewer nutrients are absorbed.

-- From News Services