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Health Highlights: March 5 2012

FDA Rejects New Combo Cholesterol Drug Diesel Exhaust Boosts Lung Cancer Risk: Study Door Closes on Disney's Childhood Obesity Exhibit

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

FDA Rejects New Combo Cholesterol Drug

A new combination cholesterol-lowering drug has been rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug -- called MK-0653C -- includes a generic version of Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering medicine Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Merck & Co.'s cholesterol medicine Zetia (ezetimibe). The two medicines work in different ways to lower cholesterol, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA's decision about the new combination drug -- which was created by Merck -- was announced Monday. The FDA wants additional study data on the drug.

Merck officials said they'll talk with the FDA to determine the next steps and also said that new data expected later this year may address the FDA's concerns, the AP reported.


Diesel Exhaust Boosts Lung Cancer Risk: Study

Exposure to diesel engine exhaust increases the risk of lung cancer, according to a U.S. National Cancer Institute study that tracked more than 12,000 mine workers for 20 years.

The workers breathed varying levels of exhaust from diesel-powered equipment in the mines. The levels were higher than those encountered by the general population, the Associated Press reported.

Mine workers exposed to the highest levels of diesel exhaust were three times more likely to die of lung cancer than those with the lowest exposures. But even workers who breathed the lowest levels of diesel exhaust had a 50 percent increased risk of lung cancer.

"Our findings are important not only for miners but also for the 1.4 million American workers and the 3 million European workers exposed to diesel exhaust, and for urban populations worldwide," wrote lead author and NCI epidemiologist Debra Silverman, the AP reported.

The study was released Friday by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


Door Closes on Disney's Childhood Obesity Exhibit

A new Epcot exhibit targeting childhood obesity is closing before its official opening because of complaints that it makes fat children feel bad, its Walt Disney World creators said.

The interactive Habit Heroes exhibit was scheduled to open at the Orlando theme park March 5, but feedback from preview visitors led Disney to delay the opening while it rethinks the attraction, the Associated Press reported. Blue Cross and Blue Shield are co-partners with Disney in the venture, designed to fight bad health habits.

Within the attraction, characters such as Will Power and Lead Bottom weighed in on the side of good health habits, fighting off villains such as Lead Bottom and Snacker.

According to the AP, the National Association of Fat Acceptance criticized the creators for using "the tool of shame" to deliver their message.

Blue Cross and Disney spokesmen said the early unofficial opening was intended to collect feedback and that they will improve the exhibit. The opening is postponed indefinitely.


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