NY politician wants salt out of restaurant kitchens

A New York politician wants to ban salt from restaurant kitchens.

Diners in New York City may soon find their taste for salt forcibly curbed if a bill by a member of the city's legislative assembly is approved. The ban's proposer, Felix Ortiz, a Democratic member from Brooklyn, aims to ban salt from the city's restaurant kitchens (but not diners' tables). It will, he says, give people a choice about whether to add salt to their meal. Anyone caught flouting the ban would face a $1,000 charge. Over-consumption of salt can lead to high blood pressure; something that an estimated 1.5m residents already suffer from.

In the first medical settlement of its kind, New York City officials have agreed to compensate thousands of rescue workers who assisted in the clean-up after September 11, with the sum of $657.5 million (Dh2,414m). If approved, the money is to be divided between the approximately 10,000 people who said their health had suffered due to the dust clouds that they were exposed to when they cleared the debris at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center in 2001. The workers, many of whom were uninsured to carry out such work, spent weeks at the smouldering Lower Manhattan site. The toxic cloud created by the disaster was said to contain particles of asbestos, lead, glass and cement. An insurance company was set up by the government to deal with claims, should any of the workers become sick or injured. Many claimed for cancer and respiratory illnesses, and by early 2008 nearly 10,000 law suits has been filed.

It may have been largely eradicated in the western world, but tuberculosis shows no signs of dying out in Canada's Arctic, where rates among the local Inuit population have doubled since 2004. Rates of the disease, which affects the lungs and, left untreated, kills more than 50 per cent of its victims, are now 185 times higher among the Inuit than non-natives, said an indigenous group last week. The rise in cases has been attributed to a lack of natural resistance to the disease, inadequate access to health care once the disease has been diagnosed and poor housing and nutrition in the country's far North. "It is unconscionable that these conditions exist in a country that boasts having one of the lowest tuberculosis rates in the world," said Gail Turner of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organisation in Canada, to AFP. "TB will never be eliminated until housing is improved, food security is improved and access to health care for Inuit is closer to what other Canadians take for granted."

A Dutch company has developed an at-home cervical cancer testing kit that could further increase the recent drive to increase awareness and early diagnosis of cervical cancer. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed on through sexual intercourse. Though these infections often clear up on their own, they can sometimes damage the cells in the cervix, which in turns leads to cancer. Many young girls are now vaccinated against HPV, but this does not protect them from all variants of the disease. The at-home kit, which acts as a kind of self-administered smear test, could, say researchers, double the rate of detection.

Women who take the contraceptive pill are, according to research carried out at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, less likely to die of cancer, heart disease or a stroke. The study, which formed part of the Royal College of GPs Oral Contraceptive Study, one of the world's largest investigations so far into the effects of the pill, observed 46,000 women over 40 years. Professor Philip Hannaford, who led the study, said that previous research suggested an increased risk, but that that risk appeared to decrease over time. "We have known for a while that while women use the pill they have a small excess risk of disease but that seems to wear off," he told BBC Scotland. "What we have never known is what are the really long-term effects?" The results show a 12 per cent reduction in the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.