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IU Communications

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IU Communications

Last modified: Monday, July 8, 2013

IU Health & Vitality: Courts curbing FDA health efforts; new findings on heart disease

Research and insights from Indiana University

July 8, 2013

IU Health & Vitality discusses the following topics:

Courts narrowing government's power to preserve public's health
Quitting smoking reduces heart disease risk in older women, even with mild weight gain

Courts narrowing government's power to preserve public's health

David Orentlicher

David Orentlicher

Print-Quality Photo

In a turnabout from the past, courts are enforcing the First Amendment to the detriment of the health of American citizens, an IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor argues in the July 18 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Professor David J. Orentlicher points to court rulings striking down the FDA's proposed graphic tobacco warnings.

Orentlicher, who holds both a law degree and a medical degree, is co-director of the William S. and Christine S. Hall Center for Law and Health at McKinney School of Law, located at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

In 2009, Congress passed legislation requiring the use of nine new textual warnings for cigarette packages with graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking. Tobacco companies sued the FDA in June 2011 alleging violation of their First Amendment rights when the agency unveiled the nine images, including one that showed a man smoking through a tracheostomy. A federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vetoed the images.

Congress may have broken new ground when it mandated graphic warnings, but sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Moreover, at a time when the Supreme Court has made it more difficult for consumers to sue corporations after they have been harmed, it is especially important to ensure that people understand the threats to their health up front, Orentlicher argues.

Unfortunately for the public, "companies today are better able to promote their products, and government is less able to promote health than was the case in the past," Orentlicher wrote.

Orentlicher, the Samuel R. Rosen Professor of Law at McKinney School of Law, can be reached at 317-658-1674 or For additional assistance, contact Diane Brown at 317-274-2195 or Top

Quitting smoking reduces heart disease risk in older women, even with mild weight gain

Postmenopausal women who quit smoking reduced their risk of heart disease, regardless of whether they had diabetes, according to a new study conducted by Juhua Luo, an epidemiologist at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.

Her findings, "Smoking Cessation, Weight Change and Coronary Heart Disease Among Postmenopausal Women With and Without Diabetes," were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women who gained more than 5 kilograms or 11 pounds after they quit smoking still saw their risk for cardiovascular disease drop. But their risk didn't drop as much as for those who gained less than 11 pounds, which Luo notes was the majority of the women.

"Our study found that if you quit smoking, even for older women, the benefits start pretty quickly, within years," said Luo, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health. "It's never too late to benefit from quitting smoking."

The study analyzed data for 104,391 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 who participated in the National Institutes of Health-funded Women's Health Initiative. Here are some of the findings:

  • Among women without diabetes, women who quit smoking within the past three years had a 26 percent lower risk of developing heart disease compared with women who continued smoking. Women who had quit smoking for more than three years had a 61 percent lower risk. Among women with diabetes, those who quit smoking had about a 60 percent lower risk for heart disease, regardless of how recently they had quit.
  • The majority of women in the study gained less than 11 pounds after they quit smoking and saw the same general drop in their heart disease risk as stated above.
  • The smaller number of women who gained more than 11 pounds had less heart-health benefit from stopping smoking, especially for women with diabetes.

This study is the first to observe a substantially reduced risk of heart disease after post-menopausal women with and without diabetes quit smoking. Co-authors of the study are Jacques Rossouw, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md.; and Karen L. Margolis, HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis.

To speak with Luo, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or, or Bethany Nolan at 812-855-6494 or Top

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