Popular kids are more apt to puff cigarettes, surveys in Los Angeles high schools find

Popular kids are more likely to smoke cigarettes, a new study says.

The conclusion, published last week in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is based on surveys among teenagers in ninth and 10th grades at seven predominantly Latino high schools in the Los Angeles area. It confirms previous studies about high school students in the United States and Mexico.

Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine, and colleagues asked 1,950 students whether they had tried smoking and how often they'd smoked in the last month. They also asked the students how they thought their friends felt about smoking, the smoking habits of their peers, and who their five best friends were. The frequency with which a student was identified as a friend was used to measure popularity.

Among ninth graders, 25.6 percent reported smoking; among 10th graders, it was 28.1 percent.

If you thought all the antismoking messages had made smoking less popular, that's true. But it's also still true in many places that smoking and popularity go hand-in-hand, Valente said. - L.A. Times
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Those least fit in middle age were most likely to become seriously ill when they grew old

Being or becoming fit in middle age can reshape the landscape of aging, even if you haven't previously bothered with exercise, according to a study in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute in Dallas gathered medical records for 18,670 healthy middle-aged men and women who had visited the Cooper Clinic for a checkup beginning in 1970.

Based on the results of an initial fitness test, the researchers divided the group into five fitness categories, with the bulk of the people, like most Americans, in the least-fit section.

Then, in a first-of-its-kind data comparison, the researchers checked the same individuals' Medicare claim records (with permission) from 1999 through 2009, by which time most of the participants were in their 70s or 80s.

What they found was that those adults who had been the least fit at the time of their middle-age checkup also were the most likely to have developed any of eight serious or chronic conditions early in the aging process. These include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and colon or lung cancer.

The adults who'd been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably their maladies appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15, or even 20 years. - New York Times
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Kansas City experiment is part of a campaign to prevent deaths of children in hot vehicles

At Children's Mercy Hospital, in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a new national campaign to prevent deaths of kids in cars from heatstroke, a Chevy minivan fixed with two digital temperature gauges sat parked in the sun at the hospital's entrance.

Within 45 minutes, as the outdoor ambient temperature slowly climbed from 84 degrees to 88, the inside of the vehicle became a searing hotbox: 122 degrees, then 125, then at noon a sizzling 135 degrees and still climbing.

In the first seven days of August, eight children nationwide died from heatstroke after inadvertently being left in car seats, the most such deaths ever for such a short period, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in Kansas City.

Few cases involve purposefully negligent parents. In many cases, curious children at home climb into unlocked cars or into car trunks and overheat. Many adults, distracted by other thoughts, convince themselves that they have gone about their normal routines. They think they dropped off the child at day care or at school, discovering only too late what's happened. - Kansas City Star
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Academy of Pediatrics, reversing itself, recommends circumcision for male babies

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report recently that reversed its position on the health benefits of circumcision for male babies.

On Aug. 27, the AAP announced the recommendation for circumcision. It previously had said there wasn't enough evidence to take a stance on the issue.

According to Susan Blank, chair of the AAP's statement and technical report task force, recent research shows clearer health benefits to the procedure than had been shown previously, but the choice still rests with parents.

A team of disease experts and health economists at Johns Hopkins warns that steadily declining rates of U.S. infant male circumcision could add more than $4.4 billion in avoidable health care costs if rates over the next decade drop to levels now seen in Europe.

In a report published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine online Aug. 20, the Johns Hopkins experts say the added expense stems from new cases and higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and related cancers among uncircumcised men and their female partners.

- McClatchy-Tribune News Service