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Business Highlights

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., based in Phoenix, said Wednesday it is paying $6.9 billion in cash and stock for Plains Exploration & Production Co. and $2.1 billion for McMoRan Exploration Co. The miner also will assume $11 billion in debt in the deal.

Plains Exploration, based in Houston, produces oil in California, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, along with natural gas in Louisiana. McMoRan Exploration, based in New Orleans, is developing natural gas resources that lie deep below shallow water regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Longer tamoxifen use cuts breast cancer deaths

Breast cancer patients taking the drug tamoxifen can cut their chances of having the disease come back or kill them if they stay on the pills for 10 years instead of five years as doctors recommend now, a major study finds.

The results could change treatment, especially for younger women. The findings are a surprise because earlier research suggested that taking the hormone-blocking drug for longer than five years didn't help and might even be harmful.

In the new study researchers found that women who took tamoxifen for 10 years lowered their risk of a recurrence by 25 percent and of dying of breast cancer by 29 percent compared to those who took the pills for just five years.

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Olive Garden owner to hold off on worker changes

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster says it won't bump any full-time workers down to part-time status, after its tests aimed at limiting health care costs resulted in a publicity backlash that took a bite out of sales.

At the same time, Darden Restaurants Inc. isn't ruling out relying more heavily on part-timers over the long haul.

The company, based in Orlando, Fla., is set to announce Thursday that none of its current full-time employees will have their status changed as a result of the new regulations. The move will come just two days after the company lowered its profit outlook for the year, citing failed promotions and negative publicity from its tests that used more part-time employees. The tests were aimed at keeping down costs tied to new health care regulations, which will require large companies to provide insurance to full-time workers starting in 2014.

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