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Health Highlights: Sept. 28, 2010

Former President Carter Taken to Cleveland Hospital Are Bans on Texting While Driving Backfiring? 'Light' Cigarettes' Days Numbered Depression Cases Jump 25 Percent Along Gulf Coast: Survey FTC Puts Squeeze on Pomegranate Juice Maker

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

Former President Carter Taken to Cleveland Hospital

Former President Jimmy Carter was taken by ambulance to a Cleveland hospital Tuesday after becoming "air sick" while flying to Cleveland as part of a tour to promote his new book, according to published reports.

"While on a flight to Cleveland, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter developed an upset stomach, and, upon arrival, was taken to Metro Health Hospital for observation," according to a statement released by the Carter Center in Atlanta. "He is resting comfortably and is expected to resume his book tour this week."

A volunteer worker at the Carter Center told ABC News that the 85-year-old ex-president was not suffering from life-threatening injuries and had just fallen "air sick" on the flight to Cleveland, where he was scheduled to appear at a signing for his new book, "White House Diary."

The Associated Press reported that Carter spent the night in the hospital on the advice of his doctor.


Are Bans on Texting While Driving Backfiring?

Laws banning texting while driving may actually drive up the number of car crashes, some experts contend.

"Texting bans haven't reduced crashes at all," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is highlighting the dilemma at the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) this week in Kansas City, Mo.

The institute's affiliate, the Highway Loss Data Institute, reviewed insurance claim data in four states -- California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington -- before and after texting bans took effect. Crash rates rose in three of the states after they adopted bans, USA Today reported.

The researchers believe the bans encourage clandestine texting, with drivers lowering their phones to avoid police detection. This means they take their eyes off the road for even longer periods, increasing their collision risk, the Highway Loss group said.

Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood believes these regulations can save lives. "We know that anti-distracted-driving laws can be enforced effectively," he said, USA Today reported.


'Light' Cigarettes' Days Numbered

U.S. retailers can continue selling cigarettes labeled "light," "low" and "mild" until their inventories run out, federal regulators said Tuesday.

As of June 22, tobacco companies had to stop labeling cigarettes not already on the market as "light," "low" and "mild," and they had another month to distribute those cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration said in a news release.

Under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, retailers are permitted to sell any remaining stocks until they are depleted, said officials who want to get across the message that no cigarette products are safe.

"These terms imply that the products are safer," said Dr. Corinne Husten, senior medical advisor on tobacco issues at the FDA. "However, studies clearly show that the consumer can get just as much nicotine and tar from these cigarettes as 'regular' cigarettes."


Depression Cases Jump 25 Percent Along Gulf Coast: Survey

Since the BP oil spill last April, cases of depression have soared 25 percent along the Gulf Coast, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday.

The nearly 2,600-person study included a "well-being index" that found many coastal residents are sad, worried and stressed out more often than inland residents, suggesting an emotional hangover from the disaster, the Associated Press reported.

The poll was conducted in 25 counties from Texas to Florida over eight months before and after the spill. After the spill, 25.6 percent more depression diagnoses were reported than before, but the study stopped short of tying the increase directly to the oil crisis. Lingering effects from Hurricane Katrina and the recession may also be contributing factors, experts say.

Besides depression, mental health agencies say coastal residents are reporting anxiety, anger, sleeplessness, substance abuse and domestic violence, the AP said.


FTC Puts Squeeze on Pomegranate Juice Maker

Claims that a pricey pomegranate juice helps reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and impotence are coming under fire from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The regulatory agency on Monday charged juice maker Pom Wonderful and the company's owners, philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, with making false and unsubstantiated claims about their pomegranate elixir, according to The New York Times.

The FTC charges that the company ignored evidence discounting its health claims. The agency wants the company to discontinue any medical claims until those statements are backed up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Resnicks, who are suing the commission, claim the FTC is violating Pom Wonderful's First Amendment rights and overstepping its authority, the Times reported.

"We stand behind the vast body of scientific research documenting the healthy properties of Wonderful variety pomegranate," the company said in a statement released Monday.

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