Nation briefs 8/24/04

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Study: 1 in 3 U.S. adults has high blood pressure

DALLAS -- As Americans get older and fatter, the number of adults with high blood pressure has climbed to almost one in three over the past decade, putting more people at risk of a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure, government researchers said Monday. A little more than a decade ago, the number was closer to one in four. And two decades ago, it was falling. But then came the obesity surge in the late '80s. About 65 million American adults now have high blood pressure -- 30 percent more than the 50 million who did in the previous decade, according to the report in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Unions protest new overtime regulations

WASHINGTON -- Several hundred union members marched outside the Labor Department to protest new overtime pay regulations taking effect Monday, with two senators pledging to roll them back when Congress returns from recess. Employers have sought the changes for decades, complaining the old rules were ambiguous and out of date, and questioning why highly paid professionals should get overtime pay. Retailers, restaurants, insurance companies and others were getting hit with multimillion-dollar lawsuits by workers claiming they were cheated out of overtime pay. The Labor Department says the new rules provide clarity. Labor unions say the new rules are intended to reduce employers' costs by cutting the number of workers who are eligible for overtime pay.

Obesity boosts risk for nine types of cancers

WASHINGTON -- Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but expanding waistlines increase the risk for at least nine types of cancer, too. And with the obesity epidemic showing no signs of waning, specialists say they need to better understand how fat cells fuels cancer growth so they might fight back. What's already clear: Being overweight can make it harder to spot tumors early, catch recurrences, determine the best chemotherapy dose, even fit into radiation machines. That in turn hurts chances of survival. Fat is known to increase the risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast, uterus, kidney, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, liver and top of the stomach.

Army delays start of nerve agent destruction

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Army has delayed until later this year plans to begin destroying a deadly nerve agent stockpiled in western Indiana after the project's test run raised nearly 200 operational and safety issues, officials said Monday. The delay is the latest at the Newport Chemical Depot, where Army officials expressed hope this spring that they could begin chemically neutralizing 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent in July or August. The 2 1/2-year project is now expected to start between October and December, said Jeff Brubaker, the Army's site project manager. However, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must first complete its own review of the project and how the resulting waste product will be handled.

-- From wire reports

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