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Health Highlights: June 16, 2016

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

Personalized Combo Therapy May Help Curb Alzheimer's: Study

A highly-personalized combination treatment program reversed Alzheimer's disease symptoms in patients, according to researchers.

The Buck Institute investigators said their findings suggest the degenerative brain disease is more treatable than previously believed, United Press International reported.

The study included 10 people with mild cognitive impairment, subjective cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease. The researchers created personalized multi-faceted treatment programs for each patient, including diet changes, exercise, improved sleep, brain stimulation, drugs and vitamins.

The patients were treated for between five and 24 months. All 10 patients showed improvements in thinking and memory, and some were even able to return to work and complete tasks that had become impossible for them as their mental abilities declined, UPI reported.

"The magnitude of improvement in these 10 patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective," Dr. Dale Bredesen, a professor at the Buck Institute and the University of California Los Angeles, said in a news release.

"Even though we see the far-reaching implications of this success, we also realize that this is a very small study that needs to be replicated in larger numbers at various sites," Bredeson added.

The study in the journal Aging was small, but points to new ways to treat Alzheimer's instead of using just one or two drugs to delay declines in mental function, according to the researchers.

Their approach was inspired by some of the recent successes in using combination therapy to treat heart disease, cancer and HIV, UPI reported.

"Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well -- the drug may have worked, a single 'hole' may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much," Bredesen said.

"We think addressing multiple targets within the molecular network may be additive, or even synergistic, and that such a combinatorial approach may enhance drug candidate performance, as well," Bredeson explained.

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Philadelphia Passes First Big-City Soda Tax

A 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages was passed by Philadelphia City Council on Thursday in order to raise money for a number of community programs.

It's the first such tax implemented in a major American city, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The tax is expected to raise about $91 million a year to fund: expansion of pre-kindergarten programs; new community schools; improvements to parks, recreation centers and libraries; and a tax credit program for businesses that sell healthy beverages.

The city plans to start collecting the tax on Jan. 1 but a legal challenge is likely, according to the Inquirer.

Combos Snack Products Recalled

Certain varieties and batches of Combos snacks have been recalled by Mars Chocolate North America because they may contain undeclared peanut residue.

Consuming peanut allergens can cause a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction in people with a peanut allergy, but the potential amount of peanut residue in the recalled products is low and not likely to pose a threat to most people with peanut allergies, according to Mars.

The recalled Combos products include: Cheddar Cheese Pretzel, Cheddar Cheese Cracker, Pizzeria Pretzel, Sweet and Salt Caramel Pretzel, Pepperoni Cracker, and Buffalo Pretzel.

Mars announced the recall after its supplier, Grain Craft, recalled certain batches of wheat flour that may contain small amounts of peanut reside. To date, Mars has not received any reports of illness caused by the recalled Combos products.

The recalled products have "best before" dates ranging from March 2017 to April 2017. Consumers with the recalled products can return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information, call 1-800-556-7881, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.


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