A summary of important health news from the past week.
Big Tobacco's Court-Ordered Ads Make Their Debut
The Tobacco Industry has been ordered by a federal judge to inform the American public about the dangers of smoking, the addictiveness of cigarettes and the dangers of second hand smoke to name a few. To some degree, this action is to undue the 50 years of lying to the public that large tobacco companies have engaged in. The new advertisements and “corrective statements” were noted to have begun this past weekend. The ads are planned to take place during prime-time television and published in newspapers.
Kratom has 'deadly risks,' FDA warns
The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) recently warned consumers that kratom, a botanical supplement, may have the potential to "expand the opioid epidemic." Kratom is used to treat pain and anxiety; it also exhibits opioid-like effects, which has caused some individuals to use it as a treatment for opioid withdrawal. However, the FDA warns that there is no scientific evidence to support its efficacy as a treatment for opioid use.
Tired After Thanksgiving? Tryptophan Is Not To Blame
The amino acid tryptophan affects wakefulness, however, the myth that the tryptophan found in turkey makes people particularly sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner has been de-bunked. Research shows that turkey does not contain amounts of tryptophan that significantly differ from other common meats. Instead, carbohydrates are the culprit. Carbohydrates are found in festive dishes such as stuffing and cornbread, and induce an insulin spike which sets off a chain reactions that lead to a rise in melatonin production, promoting feelings of fatigue.
'Avatar therapy' aims to help those who hear voices
Researchers in the UK have developed a software that creates computer-generated avatars to help reduce auditory hallucinations. Patients with these hallucinations use the computer program to build a face that matches one of the voices they hear. A therapist speaks through the avatar, and uses the software to change the voice to what the patients hear in their heads. The goal of 'avatar therapy' is to allow patients to gradually stand-up to their voices and build self-esteem. A study in The Lancet Psychiatry found that, after 12 weeks, the participants reported a reduction in frequency and strength of the auditory hallucinations. Although this course of treatment may be beneficial for some, it is not meant for all.
Vaccines and aid workers arrive in Yemen after blockade
After several weeks under a blockade, Yemen finally received critical medical aid via a host of passenger planes on Saturday. The airplanes carried aid workers and enough vaccines to administer to 600,000 children. While the vaccines are a critical resource, officials point out that Yemen needs food aid as well as medical aid, as seven million people there are suffering from severe famine.
Based on the effects of previous disasters, the author contends that Puerto Ricans will have elevated rates of mental illnesses in the wake of the hurricane and resultant, prolonged power outages. This includes various mood disorders and substance abuse issues. Some groups are more affected by power outages, such as those with specific physical conditions and with some particular racial and economic profiles.
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