Health News Digest, October 2023

Info You Can Use

Circumcision: The health benefits and risks

Circumcision used to be done routinely in the U.S., but has become more controversial in recent years. Parents are more carefully weighing the pros and cons as they decide whether or not to circumcise their baby boys. Our recently updated article is a great source of the latest information to consider when deciding which course of action is best for you and your family. (And also includes interesting factoids: Did you know that 91% of infants in West Virginia are being circumcised compared to only 10% in Washington State?) Read more here.

Do heartburn medications cause kidney disease? $425 million say yes even if the companies say no!

In October 2023 AstraZeneca agreed to pay $425 million to settle about 11,000 lawsuits in the U.S. that claimed their heartburn medications, Nexium and Prilosec, caused chronic kidney disease. AstraZeneca did not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, which is part of broader litigation against makers of these types of heartburn medications. The lawsuits also involve several other major pharmaceutical companies that make Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) medications for heartburn, including Prevacid and Zantac. Additionally, research from 2023 has shown that these drugs may increase a person’s risk of developing dementia. Read about the latest research here.

 Get the facts during Breast Cancer Awareness month

Wearing a pink ribbon doesn’t always mean someone knows the facts, so please be sure to read our article on the sometimes confusing advice about whether you need annual mammograms. And, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), read our free booklet that explains whether DCIS needs to be treated as aggressively as breast cancer.

We're In the News

Consumer and public health groups support FDA proposal to ensure accuracy of Lab-Developed Medical Tests

For years, lab-developed diagnostic tests (LDTs), including most COVID-19 tests, have not had to prove that they are accurate before they can be sold in the U.S. As a result, some of these tests are dangerously inaccurate. Whether erroneously telling someone with a disease that they don’t have it, or telling someone who doesn’t have a disease that they do have it or are likely to develop it, patients are being seriously harmed. We are actively supporting a new rule proposed by the FDA that will require better evidence to make sure that these tests from Quest Labs or medical centers are as accurate as diagnostic tests made by companies. Read more here.

Who decides who receives experimental medical treatments?

The accelerated approval process allows the FDA to approve certain medical treatments based on preliminary evidence that doesn’t actually prove the product is safe and effective. Accelerated approval is typically reserved for drugs that could possibly help with serious diseases that lack good treatments. Unfortunately, many patients believe the hype instead of understanding the questionable evidence, since they want to hope that a treatment can delay or cure their disease. Even if approved, many of these drugs are still experimental, because they are not proven to work. So, why should patients have to pay for them? Read how we and other experts are debating the pros and cons of accelerated approval here.

Inside the NFL turf debate: Injuries, safety measures, problems

Every year, professional football players are injured due to playing on artificial turf. This year, Aaron Rodgers (star Quarterback for the NY Jets) tore his Achilles tendon in his first game and is out for the rest of the season. Even Taylor Swift’s NFL boyfriend Travis Kelce was barely able to walk after his foot slid on the artificial turf, although his injury was not serious and he was able to rejoin the game later. The evidence shows that injuries are more likely to occur and be more severe on artificial turf than on natural grass. The NFL Players Association has called for the removal of turf playing surfaces from all NFL stadiums, but the owners are still fighting a ban. This isn’t just a problem for professional athletes – college athletes and children are also more likely to have injuries on artificial turf. You can read more about it here as well as sign a petition supporting grass fields here.

We're Speaking Out for You

NCHR comments on CPSC’s proposed study of toddlers using smart toys

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed a new study of how toddlers play with smart toys (such as toys with electronic components). However, NCHR pointed out that the planned study included too few children, and needed to be larger so that the results would be useful. We support the idea of doing the research looking at how safe these toys are and which children can benefit from them, but we urge the Commission to support better research. Read more here.

NCHR comments on FDA’s requirements for tobacco product manufacturing practices

Tobacco products and e-cigarettes are inherently risky, but in an effort to help lower that risk, FDA proposed a guidance for manufacturers to improve safety. Evidence shows that consumers are currently exposed to unnecessary risks, and regulating the manufacturing process can reduce these hazards. The FDA guidance would urge (but not require) companies to control and accurately label nicotine levels, particularly for e-cigarettes, which can range from 35% less or 52% more nicotine than what is stated on their labels. Read more here.

NCHR comments on the FDA Draft guidance for industry concerning dietary guidance statements in food labeling

NCHR urged the FDA to improve the agency’s draft guidance about food labeling. We pointed out that the guidance is not explicit enough, especially about fruit juice, whole grains, and alcohol. We offered suggestions on how they can improve these guidelines to make labels more useful for the general public. Read more here.

News You Can Use

Adults in Red states are dying earlier than in nearby Blue states.

A report found that adults in states governed by Republicans (“Red” states) are dying earlier on average than adults in “Blue” states governed by Democrats. The report points out that many of these deaths are affected by local and state laws such as higher or lower taxes on cigarettes, seatbelt requirements, and health policies that are effective in reducing obesity or other chronic illnesses. Research shows that the policy differences surrounding COVID-19 have made this gap even wider than before. Read more here.

NY Law bans PFAS in clothing and carpeting, including artificial turf

For years, NCHR has explained that artificial turf contains toxic chemicals that harm the environment and the people using it. Increased awareness of the risks of PFAS has resulted in a victory in this fight when the governor of New York signed a bill that bans PFAS in apparel and carpeting, including artificial turf! We hope that soon other states, and the entire nation, will follow in their footsteps and help to reduce the risk that comes with these dangerous "forever" chemicals. Read more here and be sure to follow our Instagram for the latest news about artificial turf

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