Health Highlights: Oct. 31, 2019

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

Juul Shipped Tainted Products, Lawsuit Alleges

Nearly one million tainted nicotine pods were knowingly distributed by e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, a former company finance executive claims in a lawsuit.

Another allegation in the lawsuit filed Tuesday by lawyers for Siddharth Breja is that Juul did not list expiration dates on its products, the Associated Press reported.

Juul — the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S. — fired Breja earlier this year. The suit claims that Breja was terminated after opposing company practices.

The claims against Juul are “baseless” and Breja was fired because he failed to “demonstrate the leadership qualities” required for the job, a company spokesman said in a statement, the AP reported.


Depressive Symptoms More Common in Teen Girls Who Take Birth Control Pills: Study

The use of birth control pills is associated with more depressive symptoms such as crying, sleeping and eating problems in teen girls, a new study finds.

It included more than 1,000 participants in the Netherlands whose use of birth control pills was assessed at ages 16, 19, 22 and 25.

Among 16-year-olds, those on the pill had higher rates of crying, sleeping and eating problems than those who weren’t on the pill, but those symptoms ease when they enter adulthood, CNN reported.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Previous research has shown that teens who use birth control pills are more likely to have depression in adulthood, even if they stop taking the pills. But this study examined depressive symptoms such as increased crying, sleeping too much, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts, CNN reported.

“Depressive symptoms are more prevalent than clinical depression and can have a profound impact on quality of life,” study co-author Hadine Joffe, vice chair for psychiatry research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a news release.

The findings don’t prove that birth control pills cause depressive symptoms, the researchers noted. They explained that while birth control pills might contribute to depressive symptoms, girls may start taking birth them to treat symptoms they already hae, CNN reported.

The study authors also said the findings don’t necessarily mean that teenage girls shouldn’t take birth control pills.

They wrote that benefits of the pill for teen girls include pregnancy prevention and easing menstrual symptoms, but depressive symptoms could cause them to go off the pill, so it’s important to monitor for such symptoms, CNN reported.


White House Launches New Website to Help Those Battling Substance Abuse

A new website to help Americans with substance abuse problems find treatment was activated Wednesday by the Trump administration.

Officials said will enable the tens of millions of Americans with substance abuse and mental health issues to better access care, the Associated Press reported.

By adding user-friendly search criteria and tools, the site modernizes a directory of 13,000 licensed treatment providers maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

For example, a search can be done based on the type of treatment — such as inpatient, detox or telemedicine — by payment option and whether the treatment is medication-assisted, the AP reported.

There are also options for specific groups, such as youth, veterans and the LGBT community.


Groups Urge Ban of Mint, Menthol E-Cigarette Flavors

The Trump administration must include mint and menthol in any plan to halt sales of flavored e-cigarette products, more than 50 health and advocacy groups said Tuesday.

They were responding to media reports that the administration could exempt mint and menthol, CNN reported.

The ban on flavored e-cigarette products would be “weakened” by such an exception, according to letters sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and first lady Melania Trump.

“A policy that does not remove all flavored e-cigarettes will not solve the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. Youth who now use mint and menthol e-cigarettes will continue to do so, and youth who use flavors that are removed from the market will simply switch to mint and menthol,” the letters stated.

Groups that signed the letters include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

They noted that FDA data shows that mint or menthol flavors are used by nearly 64% of U.S. high school students, up from 51.2% in 2018 and 42.3% in 2017, CNN reported.

A policy on flavored e-cigarette products has yet been finalized by the Food and Drug Administration.


No Asbestos Detected in New Tests of Baby Powder: Johnson & Johnson

No asbestos was detected in 15 new tests of the same bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder previously found to contain asbestos by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company said Tuesday.

It also said that no asbestos was found in 48 new laboratory tests of samples from Johnson’s Baby Powder recalled earlier this month, CBS News reported.

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after the FDA found trace amounts of asbestos in a single bottle purchased online.

The new tests “were conducted by two third-party laboratories as part of the company’s ongoing testing and investigation,” according to a Johnson & Johnson news release.

The company faces thousands of lawsuits from people claiming they developed cancer from asbestos in the talc-based powder.

Johnson & Johnson has maintained there is no science to support the alleged connection between its powder and cancer, CBS News reported.