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Quiz: What Were the Top Health Stories of 2013?

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Which star had both her breasts removed?

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Which star had both her breasts removed?

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The raven-haired beauty, known for her acting, humanitarian work, and relationship with Brad Pitt, had the surgery, called a double mastectomy, after testing positive for a gene called BRCA1. Women with that gene have a much greater chance of breast and ovarian cancers.

 

Jolie, whose mother died of ovarian cancer, said doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer -- so she made the decision to have the preventive surgery. She talked about her decision publicly in hopes other women would be tested.

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Which '80s throwback was one of the hottest health foods this year?

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Which '80s throwback was one of the hottest health foods this year?

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The seed that grew “hair” or “fur” on Chia Pets -- those clay figurines -- has made a big comeback as a health food.

 

Chia seeds have gained attention as a good source of omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. They also have protein, iron, calcium, and other minerals. Early research shows they might help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but it’s too soon to say for sure.

 

To eat, sprinkle whole or ground seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt, or vegetables.

Which Russian street drug, known to rot skin, reportedly made its way to the U.S.?

Which Russian street drug, known to rot skin, reportedly made its way to the U.S.?

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It sounds like something from a bad horror movie. But unlike zombies, the street drug krokodil -- and what it can do -- are very real. It gets its street name because it is so toxic it can make a user’s skin green and scaly like a crocodile’s.

 

Although a flurry of media reports in 2013 said the drug had made its way to the U.S. from Russia, the DEA has yet to confirm its arrival. Health officials say they fear it may gain in popularity here, in part because it’s cheaper than heroin. Krokodil is quick acting and 10 times more powerful than morphine.

This was behind this year’s biggest food scare.

This was behind this year’s biggest food scare.

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More than 600 people in 25 states and New York City became sick after eating food infected with a parasite called cyclospora. Public health officials in Iowa and Nebraska traced the infection to a salad mix. Officials in other states say fresh cilantro was the culprit.

 

Health officials say people should still eat fruits and vegetables but should wash their hands before handling food and thoroughly wash their fruits and veggies.

 

In another big food scare, a Kansas company recalled more than 50,000 pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli.

This sports league took a hit from a lawsuit over brain injuries caused by concussions.

This sports league took a hit from a lawsuit over brain injuries caused by concussions.

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The NFL reached a $765 million settlement with 18,000 retired players who sued. The former players accused the NFL of hiding the dangers of concussions.

 

Some players have dementia, depression, or Alzheimer’s that they say was caused by head injuries they got on the field. Several players were found to have a specific brain condition -- chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) -- that can lead to memory loss, depression, paranoia, and other problems.

 

Most concussions happen without unconsciousness, and repeat concussions can cause permanent brain damage. The injuries aren’t limited to football, though. If your child plays a sport, encourage him or her to follow safety rules and avoid hits to the head, even when wearing a helmet.

This relative of chickenpox was a hot topic for people searching WebMD.

This relative of chickenpox was a hot topic for people searching WebMD.

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If you had chickenpox as a kid, you probably remember the relief once those itchy, painful bumps finally went away. But the virus that caused it sticks with you. It stays in your body and can be inactive for years without any problems. If it wakes up, you’ll develop a painful rash called shingles, which usually starts on one side of your face or body.

 

Your chance of getting shingles goes up as you get older. The only way to lower it is to get vaccinated. However, the vaccine is given only to people 60 or older.

This caused major problems during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

This caused major problems during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

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Americans hoping to get affordable health care when the health insurance Marketplace opened encountered lots of technical difficulties instead.

 

The Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, gives more people access to health insurance. But it also requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine.

 

In the first month of rollout, far fewer Americans signed up than expected. Experts say problems with the web site prevented many Americans from enrolling. Although the site was working better by early December, glitches remained.



The FDA took a step toward banning this:



The FDA took a step toward banning this:

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In November, the FDA called out partially hydrogenated oils, the major trans fat in processed foods. These semisolid oils, which give food texture and extend shelf life, lurk in many doughnuts, cakes, cookies, and pies. They can also be found in snack foods like microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, and premade dough.

 

The FDA should be making its final ruling on the ban in early 2014. If banned, the oils would be phased out of the food supply over several years. Health officials say cutting trans fats could prevent 20,000 cases of heart disease and up to 7,000 deaths a year.

 

If you want to cut them from your diet now, read the ingredients list and put back anything  that includes “partially hydrogenated” oil.

Federal regulators also began scrutinizing:

Federal regulators also began scrutinizing:

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These battery-run devices turn nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals into a vapor that’s inhaled by the user. Some smokers use them as a way to cut down on smoking, if not quit. But the cigarettes haven’t been FDA approved for that use.

 

In 2013, the FDA said it wanted to regulate e-cigarettes like other nicotine products. Health officials say the devices may appeal to kids and, because they aren't regulated, e-cigarettes may have toxic ingredients.

An outbreak of what caused a scare on 2 college campuses?

An outbreak of what caused a scare on 2 college campuses?

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By early December, the CDC had confirmed several cases of strain B bacterial meningitis -- a type not common in the U.S. Since March, eight students on the campuses of Princeton University had fallen sick. Later, four became ill at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Most students recovered without problems. But one University of California student had both feet amputated.
 

Meningitis is spread through saliva and close contact -- think kissing or coughing. Symptoms include fever with a rash or bad headaches, and neck stiffness.


To curb the outbreak, government health officials imported a vaccine unavailable in the U.S. for students and staff at Princeton.  

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