Health Highlights: April 17, 2015

Health Highlights: April 17, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Doctors Want Dr. Oz Removed From Columbia University Faculty

TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has not been removed from his faculty position at Columbia University despite pressure from a group of top doctors.

In a letter sent to the university earlier this week, the 10 doctors said Oz has shown an “egregious lack of integrity” by promoting “quack treatments,” the Associated Press reported.

“Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” according to the letter. For example, Oz is promoting “miracle” weight-loss supplements with no scientific proof of their effectiveness, the doctors wrote.

In a statement, Columbia University said it “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion,” the AP reported.

The doctors who wrote the letter are from across the United States and include Dr. Henry Miller of Stanford University, University of North Carolina cancer researcher Dr. Joel Tepper, and Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health.

When the AP tried to reach Oz at his Columbia office number, there was a recorded message telling callers how to get tickets to his TV show. A representative of “The Dr. Oz Show” did not immediately return a call Thursday from the AP seeking comment.


Synthetic Pot Sends Hundreds to ERs in Alabama, Mississippi in Past Month

In the past month, more than 300 people in Alabama and Mississippi have sought emergency care after using synthetic marijuana, according to health officials.

Synthetic marijuana, also called spice, is sold illegally in convenience stores. Officials said there have been 227 spice-related emergency room visits in Mississippi since April 2, and 98 suspected spice-related ER visits in Alabama in the past month, ABC News reported.

Short-term effects include seizures, hallucinations, increased heart rate, anxiety attacks, uncontrollable rage and suicidal thoughts, while the long-term effects are unknown, according to Alabama state health officer Dr. Donald Williamson.

“We want the public to be aware of the toxic effects and other dangers associated with synthetic marijuana use,” he said in a news release, ABC News reported.

Spice contains “unpredictable” chemicals that can also result in coma, according to health officials.

In Hampton, Virginia, one woman died and six others were hospitalized over one weekend after using spice. Last August, New Hampshire officials declared a state of emergency after 20 people who used synthetic marijuana sought hospital treatment, ABC News reported.