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Health Highlights: Dec. 9, 2011

Eating Raw Cookie Dough Raises Illness Risk: Study Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak That Caused 30 Deaths Over: CDC Skin Around Hair Follicles Plays Role in Baldness: Study Numerous Problems at Cancer Drug Factory: FDA No Link Between Abortion, Risk of Mental Health Problems: Study

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

Eating Raw Cookie Dough Raises Illness Risk: Study

Eating raw cookie dough is a bad idea, a new case study confirms.

Researchers analyzing one 2009 outbreak found that 33 of 35 patients with food-borne illness consumed cookie dough, compared with four of 36 people with no illness. The study was published Friday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"Eleven per cent versus 94 per cent is a very large difference, and we can do some statistical analyses to see whether or not you would expect to see that by chance, and we didn't find that. It's very unlikely that that discrepancy occurred by chance," Dr. Karen Neil, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press.

While many people enjoy eating raw cookie dough, others have long warned against it. The dough can contain salmonella from ingredients such as raw eggs, experts point out, but the new study suggests that E. coli can lurk in the dough as well.

"My recommendation, the general recommendation, is that you should not consume raw cookie dough, regardless of who makes it, whether it's made at home or as a commercial product," Neil told the AP. "That is the safest thing to avoid illness."


Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak That Caused 30 Deaths Over: CDC

An outbreak of listeriosis caused by cantaloupes affected a total of 146 people in 28 states, according to a final report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The outbreak involving four strains of Listeria monocytogenes caused 30 deaths, and a woman who was pregnant when she became ill suffered a miscarriage.

A CDC investigation found that the outbreak was caused by whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado.

All available evidence indicates that the outbreak is over, the CDC said.


Skin Around Hair Follicles Plays Role in Baldness: Study

The process behind male pattern baldness may be similar to animals' shedding of fur at certain times of the year, according to a new study.

University of Southern California researchers found that not only is hair loss caused by hormones in hair follicles themselves, but also by hormones in the tissue around the follicles, ABC News reported.

In animals, the body triggers the routine shedding of their coats.

The researchers said their findings, presented at an American Society for Cell Biology meeting, suggest that new treatments for baldness should focus on the tissue around hair follicles, instead of the follicles themselves, ABC News reported.


Numerous Problems at Cancer Drug Factory: FDA

A Bedford, Ohio plant that makes the cancer drug Doxil and other medicines has a number of serious problems, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection report.

It said the Ben Venue Laboratories Inc. facility hasn't been maintaining equipment or properly investigating defective product batches, has poor quality control, and does not follow standard procedures, the Associated Press reported.

Ben Venue is the contract manufacturer for Johnson & Johnson's Doxil, which has been in short supply in the U.S. since early summer and is no longer available for new patients. The drug is used to treat ovarian cancer, an HIV-related cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma, and the bone cancer multiple myeloma.

Three weeks ago, the production and distribution of all products made at the Bedford plan was halted while the company works to assess and correct the problems listed by the FDA, the AP reported.


No Link Between Abortion, Risk of Mental Health Problems: Study

Having an abortion does not increase a woman's risk of developing mental health problems, according to researchers who reviewed 44 studies conducted worldwide between 1990 and 2011.

They found that women who had an abortion were no more likely to have mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety than those who gave birth, the Associated Press reported.

The best predictor of whether a woman would have psychiatric problems after an abortion would be whether she had such problems before getting pregnant, the researchers concluded.

The study was paid for by the U.K.'s department of health and released Friday by Britain's Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the AP reported.

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