The top 11 health stories of 2011.
11. Professional and local sports teams tackle concussion safety
The Island's 116 varsity teams are taking the steps to comply with a state law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which provides guidelines for evaluating and treating a player who may have a concussion. In the pros, head safety grabbed attention in light of reports that Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain ailment related to Alzheimer's disease that is caused by repeated blows to the head. Boogaard died in May of an accidental overdose. CTE can be diagnosed only after death.
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10. New smoking bans
A smoking ban on LIRR platforms went into effect in November. Violators can be subject to a fine up to $50 and as many as 30 days in jail. In New York City, a smoking ban was extended to public parks and beaches.
Click here to read more about the LIRR smoking ban.
7. FDA revokes approval of Avastin for breast cancer
Avastin remains on the market to treat other cancers, but the Federal Drug Administration reported it appeared to be a false hope for breast cancer. Studies found the drug did not help breast cancer patients live longer or provide enough other benefits to outweigh the potential side effects. Doctors are allowed to prescribe the drug as they see fit, but many insurers will not cover a medication revoked by the FDA.
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4. Marisa Carney and ROHHAD
Bayport 5-year-old Marisa Carney has ROHHAD, a rare brain disorder that triggers rapid obesity and life-threatening breathing problems. In 2011, Newsday followed Marisa and her battle with the disease, and found other young patients around the country struggling with the medical mystery.
Click here to read more about Marisa and her illness.
5. Calorie counts on menus
Chain restaurants around the country will have to post calorie counts as early as 2012 under new regulations passed this year by the Food and Drug Administration, which estimates that a third of calories are consumed by eating out.
Click here to read more about the proposal.
High schooler Nick Mauriello is wrestling once again after surviving an MRSA infection that nearly took his life. Long Island school officials are intensifying efforts to educate coaches, parents, and athletes about infectious skin diseases.
Click here to read more about Nick and how Long Island school officials plan to combat MRSA.
2. Whooping cough cases on Long Island
216 people in Suffolk County were diagnosed with whooping cough this year, marking the highest annual number for a New York county since 1999, according to health officials and state records. A majority of the cases involve students.
Click here to read more about the whooping cough cases on Long Island.
1. Painkiller Abuse on Long Island
David Laffer pleaded guilty to killing four in a Father Day's shooting at a Medford pharmacy before fleeing with more than 10,000 painkillers, police said. State records show Laffer and his wife, Melinda Brady, filled prescriptions for almost 12,000 pain pills from dozens of doctors over four years. The Drug Enforcement Administration seized records from three doctors on Long Island, including Dr. Eric Jacobson, who had prescribed thousands of pain pills to Laffer and Brady.
The state Senate is considering a bill to toughen the laws against doctors and pharmacists who illegally dispense or sell prescription painkillers, in light of findings that show more people die from prescription-drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Click here to read more about the Medford murders.