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New treatment could be the end of peanut allergy, study says

Allergic to peanuts? There could be new treatment that would eliminate that allergy for up to four years, according to recent research.

»RELATED: Giving peanut-based foods to babies early prevents allergies 

Scientists from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, to determine how probiotics could keep peanut allergies at bay in the long term.

To do so, they combined a bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is known to calm the immune system and reduce allergic reactions, with a peanut protein in increasing amounts for a process known as peanut oral immunotherapy. The mix was designed to alter the way the immune system reacts to peanuts. 

>> Read more trending news

They then tested it on a group of children, giving some the probiotic and others a placebo once daily for 18 months. 

After analyzing the results, they found that 80 percent of those given the probiotic saw no signs of the allergy after four years, and 70 percent passed an exam that determined that their peanut tolerance was long-term. 

“It would seem that children who have benefited from the probiotic peanut therapy are able to change the way that they live and not have to really worry about peanuts anymore,” Mimi Prang, lead researcher, told the journal. “That’s what’s exciting.” 

Researchers did note, however, that their experiment was limited as it only included a small group. Therefore, more experiments should be done on larger groups. 

Scientists also want to test whether the probiotic could help with other food allergies. 

“Theoretically, it should work for any other allergen that’s also presented with this probiotic,” Prang said. "I think a really important study to do next would be to see if it works in the setting of other food allergies to induce a long-lasting tolerance.”

»RELATED: Allergic college student 'hazed' with peanut butter

Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

>> Read more trending news

A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Suicide rate for teen girls hits 40-year record high -- is social media to blame?

According to new data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

» RELATED: Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in boyfriend's suicide, accused of convincing him to commit suicide via text messages 

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, 5 died by suicide.

Additionally, the suicide rate among teen boys in the same age group and year range rose by more than 30 percent.

>> Read more trending news

The analysis mirrors a rising national trend in suicide rates across all age groups, CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN.

» RELATED: Read the full CDC report

So, what’s going on?

Experts such as Simon and Carl Tishler, adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University, said there are a lot of possible factors.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

Some factors include substance abuse, relationship conflicts, lack of emotional support, the stigma associated with mental health, exposure to violence and economic instability.

Tishler specifically cited the rise of the opioid epidemic as a possible factor.

“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more internet suicides,” Tishler told CNN.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

What about social media?

While some public health studies have shown negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health and well-being, Simon said social media isn’t always negative.

“Social media can help increase connections between people, and it's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials,” he told CNN.

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

Still, he acknowledges that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

Additionally, cyberbullying in social media may negatively influence teenage girls more than boys, according to Emory University School of Medicine professor Dorian Lamis.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

“Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate,” Lamis told CNN.

Lamis said the hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teen girls “vulnerable to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life.”

“The message for parents, teachers, coaches and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned,” Simon said.

Read more from CNN.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, or if you are concerned for someone else, here are some helpful resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Online chat

Suicide prevention resources for parents, guardians and families

Suicide prevention resources for teens

Suicide prevention resources for survivors of suicide loss

More resources and programs at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

If you want to help put an end to your depression, a new report from the American Psychological Association suggests giving hot yoga a try. 

>> Read more trending news

“Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing,” Lindsey Hopkins, one of the analysts, said in a statement. “But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health.” 

That’s why the scientists from the APA conducted a study to determine how the practice could combat symptoms of depression including anxiety, stress, rumination and worry.

To do so, they led several different studies. In the first one, they rounded up 23 male veterans to participate in twice-weekly yoga classes for eight weeks. The subjects gave the exercise an average enjoyment ranking of 9.4 out of 10, and those with elevated depression scores had a significant decrease in depression symptoms.

» RELATED: Need to relieve stress? Try talking to yourself

For the second one, scientists gathered 52 women ages 25 to 45 and asked more than half of them to attend twice-weekly hot yoga classes for eight weeks. The others were placed on a wait list. At the end of the experiment, those who tried yoga saw a reduction in their depression symptoms compared to those in the control group. 

And in another, they examined 74 mildly depressed university students, giving them a 15-minute instructional video to follow at home for two months. They found that their symptoms had also subsided significantly.

Researchers noted that the practice isn’t a cure-all but should be a complimentary practice to traditional forms of therapy. 

“However,” Hopkins said, “based on empirical evidence, there seems to be a lot of potential.”

Customers at Virginia Chipotle report illness, suspect norovirus

Chipotle temporarily closed one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia, after an unspecified amount of customers reported illnesses with symptoms consistent with norovirus after eating food at the Mexican grill, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to the AP a “small number” of customers reported the illnesses. 

Chipotle said the company planned to reopen the Virginia location the same day after completing a full sanitation of the restaurant. 

Chipotle officials are working with health officials to discover the cause of the illnesses. Restaurant officials assured customers that norovirus does not come from its food supply.

>> Related: Chipotle testing queso offering

Chipotle’s shares dropped more than six percent Tuesday as investors responded to the incident with concern. 

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. 

In 2015, Chipotle’s revenue and reputation suffered after an E. coli outbreak at restaurants in nine states and a norovirus outbreak at a Boston location. Approximately 500 customers reported illnesses.

“We may be at a higher risk for food-borne illness outbreaks than some competitors due to our use of fresh produce and meats, rather than frozen, and our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation,” Chipotle officials said at the time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restaurant workers are often the source of norovirus outbreaks, as they often touch foods such as raw fruits and vegetables with their bare hands before serving them.

In 2016, Chipotle shut down all locations for a day retrain employees on food safety.

 

Do low-calorie sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners help you lose weight?

Of the 41 percent of American adults and 25 percent of U.S. children who consume artificial sweeteners, most consume them at least once a day, according to a study published earlier this year.

» RELATED: These 9 healthy-sounding foods have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut 

And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has said artificial sweeteners can be used to manage weight or blood sugar by limiting energy intake.

But if you’re looking for a sweet secret solution to your weight loss woes, new research warns against falling into the growing trap of artificial sweeteners or low-calorie sugar substitutes for weight management.

>> Read more trending news

In fact, according to the new study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), artificial sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) may actually lead to heart disease, higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and long-term weight gain.

» RELATED: Exercising to lose weight? Skip these popular workouts 

To determine whether or not artificial sweeteners are associated with the negative long-term effects previous studies have cited, researchers from the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation examined more than 11,000 studies on both artificial and natural sweeteners, performed a meta-analysis of 37 studies and then divided them into randomized controlled trials (seven) and longitudinal studies (30).

» RELATED: Are artificial sweeteners safe (and how much can you have)? 

In total, scientists followed more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years, with seven of those studies (the randomized controlled trials) involving 1,003 people for an average of six months.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • In the short seven randomized control trials of 1,003 people, those who consumed artificial sweeteners did not lose or gain more weight or see a decrease in body mass index (BMI) or in waist circumference than the controls in that group.
  • The 30 longer, observational studies showed people who consumed those low-calorie sweeteners were actually more likely to face increased risk of type 2 diabetes (14 percent), obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related cardiovascular issues (32 percent higher risk for the heaviest participants compared to the lightest).
  • The longer observational studies also pointed toward an increase in BMI and waist circumference due to consumption of artificial sweeteners.

» RELATED: New study on Splenda's link to cancer sparks controversy 

“Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products. We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management,” Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at University of Manitoba and author of the study, said.

But there are some limitations to the study. For example, the way people consumed artificial sweeteners in the clinical trials may not exactly mimic how people would actually consume them.

» RELATED: Scientists say eating cheese can help weight loss 

Most of those involved in the randomized trials were on a weight-loss program, but the larger population consuming low-calorie sweeteners may not be doing so to lose weight.

It’s important to remember the study’s findings are associations, not cause and effect.

But lead author Meghan Azad, who is also an assistant professor, cautioned against the consumption of artificial sweeteners until more research is done to identify long-term health effects.

Azad and her colleagues are currently researching how such sweeteners consumed by pregnant women may impact their baby’s weight, metabolism and gut bacteria, according to Medical News Today.

In the meantime, instead of using artificial sweeteners as a healthy substitute for sugar, try to decrease your sweet tooth altogether by consuming fruit-infused water, black coffee or plain yogurt with fruit, Azad told NPR.

Read the full study at CMAJ.ca. 

Baby who was 'close to death' from blood disease saved by anonymous bone marrow donor

Baby Denniya Rawls was born with a potentially deadly genetic blood disease known as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, and was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in March where doctors described her as “close to death.”

>> Watch the news report here

“She was really almost in liver failure and could not breathe well,” Dr. Rabi Hanna, the department chairman of Pediatrics Hematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, told WKYC.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Robin Thornton, Denniya’s mother, said the disease was eating up her immune system and that her body was fighting against itself.

However, a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous 54-year-old saved the little girl’s life. After spending 100 days in the hospital, now 8-month-old Denniya is home on Cleveland’s east side. To date, she is the youngest baby to get a lifesaving bone marrow transplant at the hospital.

>> Read more trending news

“Bless his heart, wherever he is,” her parents said. “We can’t wait to meet him because this is our miracle baby right here!”

Thornton added, “To hear her breathe. To hear her laugh. To see her smile.”

Doctors remove 27 contact lenses from woman’s eye before cataract surgery 

A routine cataract surgery was abruptly halted when doctors found 17 contact lenses in a British woman’s eye, according to news reports. After finding the first clump, which they described as a “blueish mass,” they found 10 more. 

>> Read more trending news 

The 67-year-old woman from the United Kingdom had not complained of any irritation, just the normal discomfort of dry eye she thought was from old age, Optometry Today reported.

"She was quite shocked," ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria told Optometry Today.

“It was such a large mass. All the 17 contact lenses were stuck together. We were really surprised that the patient didn’t notice it because it would cause quite a lot of irritation while it was sitting there,” Morjaria added.

Morjaria said the woman, who had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for approximately 35 years, according to NPR, felt a lot more comfortable during her two-week follow up after having the 27 contacts removed.

» Woman sues for $1M, claiming flea market contacts left her blind

The doctors said they wanted to publicize her case as a warning to others who wear contacts. Tips and advice are available at the Association of Optometrists.

Read more at Optometry Today.

» Headed to the eye doctor? You have a right to your prescription

Untreatable super-gonorrhea spreading orally, WHO warns

Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., is getting harder and harder to treat, and unsafe oral sex is making the STI particularly dangerous.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s according to a warning issued Friday by experts at the World Health Organization, whose researchers examined data from patients with gonorrhea in 77 countries showing drug-resistant gonorrhea is getting harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart,” WHO medical officer Teodora Wi said in a news release. “Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them.”

An estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. It disproportionately affects women.

» RELATED: New study on STDs finds Georgia among ‘most diseased’ states 

Gonorrhea can infect the throat, genitals and rectum, but according to Wi, scientists are particularly concerned about the throat.

Wi told BBC that introducing gonorrhea bacteria into the throat through oral sex can lead to what’s referred to as super-gonorrhea, a drug-resistant strain that is often untreatable.

» RELATED: HIV epidemic afflicting Georgia, the South a ‘public health emergency’ 

This happens because antibiotics taken to treat the infection mix with the super-gonorrhea in the throat and create resistance, Wi said.

The rise in resistant gonorrhea is largely due to decreased condom use, increased urbanization and travel, poor infection detection rates and either inadequate or failed treatment, according to the WHO.

Read the full WHO news release.

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