Health Highlights: May 25, 2016

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

Family of Baseball’s Tony Gwynn Sues Tobacco Industry

The family of deceased baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn is suing the tobacco industry.

Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer in 2014. In a wrongful-death lawsuit filed Monday in Superior Court in San Diego, his family accuses Altria Group Inc. and several other defendants of inducing Gwynn to start using smokeless tobacco while he attended San Diego State University between 1977 and 1981, The New York Times reported.

Gwynn became addicted and used one-and-a-half to two cans of smokeless tobacco for 31 years, from 1977 to 2008. The lawsuit says that’s the equivalent of four to five packs of cigarettes a day.

No damages are specified in the complaint, which requests a jury trial on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability, The Times reported.

Gwynn’s family claims he was the target of a tobacco industry scheme to get him addicted to smokeless tobacco while he was a rising star athlete at university. The industry was trying to boost its appeal to blacks at the time, and Gwynn was a “marketing dream come true,” according to the lawsuit.

“Now that the family understands how he was targeted, they understand that the industry knew they had this highly carcinogenic product and they were marketing it to people like Tony,” said David Casey, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, The Times reported.

“They want to hold them accountable and let a jury make a decision as to what is proper in this case,” he added.

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Former NFL Player Bubba Smith Had CTE Brain Disease: Researchers

Former NFL player Bubba Smith had a concussion-related brain disease when he died at age 66 in 2011, researchers announced Tuesday.

Smith had stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his death, according to the researchers at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. Stage 4 is the most advanced, USA Today reported.

“Prior to his death, Smith was reported to have developed significant cognitive decline, including memory impairment and poor judgment,” the researchers said in a news release. “He was also unable to complete many tasks of daily living on his own, such as paying bills, shopping, or traveling.”

The brain of the Pro Bowl defensive end was the 90th of 94 brains of former NFL players in which CTE was detected by the brain bank, a collaboration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, USA Today reported.

Following his retirement in 1976 after 10 seasons in the NFL, Smith became an actor and appeared in six Police Academy movies.

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