Health Highlights: March 21, 2019
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Kentucky Governor Exposed His Children to Chickenpox
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's revelation that he exposed his children to chickenpox so they would get the disease and become immune is "unfortunate" and "not an example" for others, an infectious diseases expert said Wednesday.
In an interview this week on a local radio station, the Republican governor said all of his children "got the chickenpox on purpose because we found a neighbor that had it, and I went and made sure every one of my kids was exposed to it, and they got it," the Associated Press reported.
Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children, four adopted. In the radio interview, he said government shouldn't mandate the vaccination. His comments come after reports this week of a chickenpox outbreak at a Kentucky Catholic school.
In Kentucky, children entering kindergarten are required to be vaccinated for chickenpox, but parents may seek religious exemptions or provide proof that a child already had the disease.
Public health officials strongly discourage the practice of deliberately exposing children to chickenpox, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told the AP.
Bevin's actions are "unfortunate and not an example for any of us," he said.
"We should vaccinate all our children. It's a great triumph of public health in the United States. Let's not take a step backward," Schaffner told the AP.
"What the governor and other like-minded folks are unaware of is that there are potentially serious complications of chickenpox," he warned.
Those complications can include bacterial infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hot Tea May Boost Esophageal Cancer Risk
Drinking piping hot tea could increase your risk of esophageal cancer, a new study claims.
Researchers found that people who preferred tea above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and drank more than 24 ounces of tea a day (about two large cups) had a 90 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer than those who drank less tea and at cooler temperatures, CNN reported.
The study, which included more than 50,000 adults in Iran, was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
"Many people enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. However, according to our report, drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and it is therefore advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking," lead author Farhad Islami, from the American Cancer Society, told CNN.
A previous study linked hot tea with esophageal cancer, but this new one is the first to pinpoint a specific temperature, according to the researchers.
Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and kills about 400,000 people a year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
In 2019, the United States will have 13,750 new cases of esophageal cancer diagnosed in men and 3,900 new cases in women, the American Cancer Society estimates.
Bill Aims to Ban E-Cig Sales in San Francisco
Legislation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes in San Francisco was introduced Tuesday.
It proposes halting sales of the products until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration evaluates their impact on public health, CBS News reported.
If approved, it would be the first such ban in the United States, according to supporters.
At a Board of Supervisors meeting, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Shamann Walton also proposed a bill to prohibit all companies that make, sell and distribute tobacco products such as e-cigarettes from occupying city-owned property, CBS News reported.
Tobacco companies are already forbidden from doing business on city property, but the bill would add e-cigarettes to that ban, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"We have people addicted to nicotine who would have never smoked a cigarette had it not been for the attractive products that target our young people," said Walton, a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education, CBS News reported.
FDA Takes New Look at Breast Implant Safety
Questions about breast implant safety are getting new attention from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as thousands of women say their implants cause debilitating joint pain and fatigue.
The claims have long been dismissed by doctors and implant makers, and most consumers believed concerns about breast implant safety had been resolved about a decade ago, The New York Times reported.
Millions of women have breast implants, which are silicone sacs filled with either salt water or silicone gel. The implants are used for cosmetic breast enlargement or to rebuild breasts after surgical removal due to breast cancer.
On Tuesday, the FDA warned two breast implant makers that they'd failed to conduct adequate long-term studies of their implants' effects on women's health. Those studies were a condition of approval, and the implants could be taken off the market if the companies do not fulfill that requirement, the FDA said.
On Friday, the agency issued a statement acknowledging that breast implants and other implantable devices may contain materials that affect people's health, including "inflammatory reactions and tissue changes causing pain and other symptoms that may interfere with their quality of life," the Times reported.
The FDA said it plans to collect more information "to further our understanding of medical device materials and improve the safety of devices for patients." One of the materials being looked at is silicone, which is used in breast implants.
Next week, the FDA has scheduled a two-day meeting about breast implants and will hear from researchers, patient advocacy groups and manufacturers, The Times reported.
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