The flu is waning and dangerous energy drinks: In health news today

Feb. 1, 2013, 10:04 a.m.

Energy drink consumption among teens is dangerous, says a new study, especially when alcohol is used as a mixer. (Joe Philipson/Flickr Creative Commons)

There are three major flu strains circulating around the U.S., reported federal health officials, but the virus seems to finally be waning nationwide. USA Today says 45 children have died from the flu since the beginning of the season.

KPCC reports on the "Go Red for Women" campaign, an initiative from the American Heart Association that encourages folks to wear red on Feb. 1 in order to raise awareness about heart disease. The disease takes more women's lives than all cancers combined, but 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors and don't even know it.

A new survey by a health insurance trade group indicates that some doctors in California bill out-of-network patients at rates that are way higher than what Medicare allows. The Los Angeles Times cites examples: In 2011, one doctor billed a patient $30,000 for a gallbladder removal procedure. The Medicare rate? $778.16.

Energy drinks and teens don't mix well, says a new study – especially when those drinks are mixed with alcohol. HealthDay says beverages like Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, obesity and other "troubling side effects" in teenagers.

Binge drinking does bad things to a person's metabolism, reports the L.A. Times – even post-buzz and post-hangover. New research says binging on alcohol can increase someone's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or its precursor, metabolic syndrome.

The federal government released today its proposed standards for "competitive foods," says USA Today, which set limits on calories, fat, sugar and salt. They only apply to food sold in cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars during the school day and are now open to public comment.

Black women appear to have a higher risk of sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, says a new study appearing Health Eduation & Behavior. Researchers said that regardless of "motivations for having sex," expectations regarding condom use were less than 50 percent for all types of sexual encounters, including the most casual (and riskiest).

Health providers often face the unenviable challenge of determining which of their patients are the sickest and therefore in most need of the intensive care unit. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests electronic health records – which are slowly emerging across the health care industry – could help providers "efficiently use valuable critical care resources." Or, in other words, determine which patient has the greatest need.

And finally: A new BMJ study says medical school policies that restrict gifts to doctors from the pharmaceutical industry were associated with those same doctors' prescribing fewer drugs. Further research will be necessary, noted the authors.

Photo by Joe Philipson via Flickr Creative Commons.

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