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Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

Scared to death ... or maybe not: The FDA new cigarette warning labels

By Dr. Kate Scannell
First Published in Print: 06/25/2011

TOBACCO MANUFACTURERS are fuming over the new warning labels that will be required on cigarette packages beginning next year. Cool camels and virile smokers pictured on current packs will have to make room for images of a stiff corpse. Or a not-so-virile smoker blowing smoke through a tracheostomy hole in his neck. Or a set of decaying teeth framed by cancer-eroded lips. In all, there will be nine possible graphic options associated with deadly serious text warnings about the life-threatening risks of tobacco consumption.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed these new warning labels in advance of mandating their appearance on all cigarette packages and advertisements in the United States. By the fall of 2012, they are expected to occupy at least the upper half of the front and rear panels on cigarette packs, and at least the upper 20 percent of each ad.  Read More 

Good riddance to the old food pyramid -- and other food news

A mummy from the pyramidal catacombs ?

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated Columnist
First Published in Print: 06/11/2011

FOOD AND health and safety issues cooked up more news within the last two weeks than Lindsay Lohan and Oprah Winfrey combined! Is the public appetite changing?

A toppled pyramid, fishy fish, killer bacteria stalking European food supplies, Ronald MacDonald's job threatened and the FDA taking heat on the back burner . . . how to digest it all?

Let's begin with the dismantling of the 2005 food pyramid --that charming but baffling icon developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that was supposed to somehow guide us toward healthier nutritional habits. But few Americans could crack the mysterious code of the old-world pyramid and its six unlabeled columns, all the while our nation's obesity and diabetes epidemics swiftly expanded.

Americans puzzled over the nutritional significance of the staircase -- or escalator? -- appended to the pyramid. They were distracted by the disarticulated humanoid figure that loitered on it. Was it a mummy emerging from the pyramidal catacombs? Was its disarticulation merely metaphor for the entire icon's failure to articulate a coherent message about good nutrition? Why was it running away from "the five food groups" jumbled at the pyramid's base -- especially if they were supposed to be good for us? Sadly, in the wake of the food pyramid's recent dismantling, we may never find out. Read More