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Health News

Health Highlights: June 20, 2013

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

'Sopranos' Star James Gandolfini Dies at Age 51

Actor James Gandolfini, who played mob boss Tony Soprano in the acclaimed HBO series "The Sopranos", died Wednesday in Italy of a heart attack. He was 51.

The Emmy Award-winning actor was traveling in Rome, where he was on vacation, and was scheduled to attend the Taormina Film Fest, The New York Times reported.

Hospital officials in Rome confirmed Thursday morning that Gandolfini died of a heart attack, according to CBS News.

HBO released a statement that said: "We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us."

The actor's body is in a hospital morgue in Rome. His remains can be returned to the United States after the U.S. Embassy issues a death certificate, CNN reported.

Gandolfini was born Sept. 18, 1961 in Westwood, N.J. He is survived by wife Deborah Lin, 8-month-old daughter Liliana and son Michael, from a previous marriage.

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Illness Outbreak at Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park

A spike in cases of gastrointestinal illness among visitors at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks has led the National Park Service to tell people to make an extra effort when washing their hands.

In one case that occurred June 7, members of a tour group visiting Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone began complaining of stomach and other issues. Park employees who had contact with the group reported similar symptoms within 48 hours, CNN reported.

Tests revealed that the cause of the illnesses was highly-contagious norovirus.

In addition to visitors, suspected cases of norovirus have occurred among more than 100 Yellowstone employees and 50 Grand Teton workers, according to the National Park Service.

In response to the situation, the park service and businesses that operate in the parks are taking special measures, including more frequent cleaning and disinfection of public areas. Park workers who show signs of infection must be symptom-free for 72 hours before returning to their duties, CNN reported.

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Restrict Use of Food Stamps to Buy Sugary Beverages: Mayors

The mayors of major U.S. cities want the federal government to examine ways to limit people's use of food stamps to buy soda and other sugary drinks.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Tuesday, the mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 15 other cities said this would be a way to fight obesity and related diseases, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

"More than one third of American adults are now obese, costing approximately $147 billion per year in associated medical expenses," the letter stated. "As a result of obesity, this generation of American children is the first to face the possibility of a shorter life expectancy than their parents. It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP's (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's) subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity."

"We need to find ways to strengthen the program and promote good nutrition while limiting the use of these resources for items with no nutritional value, like sugary drinks, that are actually harming the health of participants," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose office released the letter, said in a statement, CBS/AP reported. "Why should we continue supporting unhealthy purchases in the false name of nutrition assistance?"

The food stamp program is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which declined to comment on the letter, which was addressed to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.




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