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Low nicotine helps cut smoking

Smokers who switched to special low-nicotine cigarettes wound up smoking less and were more likely to try to quit, researchers found.

The study only lasted six weeks, but researchers said it's the first large study to show that slashing nicotine, perhaps below an addiction threshold, is safe and leads to less smoking. The Food and Drug Administration was given the power in 2009 to mandate lower nicotine levels if it would help public health, but has not yet done so. Results are in the New England Journal of Medicine. The FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse paid for the study.

5 Americans contract q fever

Five Americans came down with an unusual illness after traveling to Germany for a treatment — not permitted in the U.S. — involving injections with fetal cells from sheep, health officials reported.

The five New York residents received the "live cell therapy" in May last year. About a week later, they developed fever, fatigue and other symptoms of a dangerous bacterial illness called Q fever. Two told investigators that they were part of a group that, for the past five years, had traveled to Germany twice a year for the injections. A Canadian also came down with the illness after receiving the treatment around the same time. It's sometimes offered as an anti-aging therapy, but also has been touted for conditions ranging from impotence to liver disease. There is no published clinical proof the treatments work, officials say.

Three of the six recovered. But three others were still experiencing symptoms more than nine months later.

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