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Health Highlights: July 9, 2014

Heroin, Painkiller Abuse Targeted in 2014 White House Drug Control Policy Pets Harmed by Secondhand Smoke Implantable Memory-Restoring Device Being Developed by Researchers

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

Heroin, Painkiller Abuse Targeted in 2014 White House Drug Control Policy

Reducing heroin use and prescription painkiller abuse are among the main goals in the 2014 drug control policy announced Wednesday by the White House.

Another major objective is to promote drug treatment programs, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

The drug control policy will continue to emphasize expanded health interventions and "smart on crime" alternatives shown to reduce drug use, according to Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

There will also be increased emphasis on preventing overdoses from opioids, which include heroin and prescription painkillers, CBS News/AP reported.


Pets Harmed by Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke poses a serious threat to pets' health.

It can cause malignant lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, and respiratory problems and allergies in both species, according to studies conducted at Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts and other schools, the Associated Press reported.

The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report warned that secondhand smoke puts animals at risk, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urges pet owners to have smoke-free homes.

There are no statistics on how many pets die each year due to secondhand smoke, but veterinarians do know that secondhand smoke causes inflammation, allergic reactions, and nasal and pulmonary cancers in pets, Dr. Kerri Marshall, chief veterinary officer for Trupanion pet insurance, told the AP.

Even electronic cigarettes pose a threat to dogs, who will grab e-cigarette nicotine cartridges from the trash.

"You wouldn't think dogs would eat such things, but they do," Liz Rozanski, a Tufts researcher who specializes in respiratory function in small animals, told the AP.


Implantable Memory-Restoring Device Being Developed by Researchers

U.S. scientists are working on an implantable device that will help restore memory.

The $2.5 million project at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is being funded by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NBC News reported.

The small wireless device would be implanted in regions of the brain involved with memory. An external device worn around the ear will store information.

The first patients to use the device will be those with traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as soldiers who've survived bomb blasts, NBC News reported.

"Currently, there is no effective treatment for memory loss resulting from conditions like TBI," project leader Satinderpall Pannu said.

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