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Rethinking mammograms and why diet soda mixers give a better buzz: In health news today

Using diet soda as a mixer for alcoholic drinks, says a new study, can give you a considerably stronger buzz.
Using diet soda as a mixer for alcoholic drinks, says a new study, can give you a considerably stronger buzz.
Chelsea Nesvig/Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly 93 percent of children younger than 18 in the U.S. were covered by health insurance in 2011, according to a new Carsey Institute brief, which marks a rise of 2.5 percent from 2008. The rate of private coverage among children decreased by five percentage points during that three-year period; the rate of public coverage, however, rose by more than nine.

A new report appearing in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians finds that from 2000 to 2009, the cancer death rate among black men decreased at a faster rate than it did for white men, which translates to about 200,000 cancer deaths avoided among black people overall since the early 1990s. Still, disparities remain: Researchers noted that cancer death rates among black men are still 33 percent higher than those of their white counterparts.

The re-analysis of a study that's nearly 50 years old may change the way we think about polyunsaturated vegetable fats. According to HealthDay, these fats are traditionally thought of as healthier than saturated animal fats – but new data indicates that heart disease patients who heed that advice may actually be increasing their risk of death.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women over 40 get an annual mammogram to screen for signs of breast cancer – but a new study says that may be too much. The Los Angeles Times reports that researchers found that annual mammograms among women between 66 and 89 did not appear to reduce a women's cancer risk, but in fact, increased their odds of a getting a false positive.

New research appearing in BMC Medicine suggests that babies born to obese fathers may have an altered genetic mechanism that could ultimately result in an increased risk of developing certain cancers. Further research is needed, noted the study's authors.

Another obesity study published in PLOS Medicine says the condition can lead to a lack of vitamin D in the body, making it the first study to determine that it's obesity that causes vitamin D deficiency, and not the other way around. Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining bone health and can strengthen women's immune systems during pregnancy.

Hospice care is often treated as a last resort, and thus used too late to really benefit patients and their loved ones, according to a new study. USA Today reports that more than 25 percent of hospice use in 2009 lasted three days or less, and 40 percent of those visits were preceded by an intense hospital stay.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a new study with an international scope that says mothers who breathe in air pollution – the kind emitted by cars, coal-powered plants and factories – are far more likely to give birth to underweight children than their counterparts who live in areas with cleaner air.

There's a serious shortage of the cancer drug Doxil, and the federal government just approved a generic version that health officials are hopeful will help thousands survive. Medical News Today noted that in order to be approved, generic versions of drugs are required to be just as good as the brand-names they're modeled after.

HealthDay has news on a study which suggests that when spouses have starkly different drinking habits, it could put their marriage – dare we say it? – on the rocks. For example, if the husband is a light drinker but the wife imbibes heavily, the couple's risk of divorce triples, compared to couples where both people are light drinkers.

And finally: Feeling a little buzzed after that rum-and-Diet Coke? TIME explains: A new study says using diet soda as a mixer for alcoholic drinks can make you more drunk than other, high-calorie mixer.

Photo by Chelsea Nesvig via Flickr Creative Commons.