Health Highlights: Oct. 4, 2018

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

Marijuana a Threat to Teens’ Brains: Study

Marijuana may cause long-term damage to teens’ brains, a new study finds.

Canadian researchers followed 3,800 adolescents for four years, starting at about age 13, and found that marijuana use had a greater effect on their skills, memory and behavior than alcohol, BBC News reported.

The more the teens used marijuana, the worse these types of problems. And unlike alcohol, the harmful effects on the brain caused by marijuana were lasting, according to the University of Montreal study published Oct. 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Their brains are still developing but cannabis is interfering with that,” said lead author Patricia Conrod, a professor in the department of psychiatry. “They should delay their use of cannabis as long as they can.”

She added that the findings highlight the importance of drug prevention programs, BBC News reported.

Among the teens in the study, 28 percent admitted to at least some marijuana use, and 75 percent said they used alcohol at least occasionally.


U.S., British Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Protein Research

Three scientists have been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry for harnessing evolution to create new proteins used in medications and other products.

The award is shared by Frances Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, George Smith, of the University of Missouri, and Gregory Winter, of the MRC molecular biology lab in Cambridge, England, the Associated Press reported.

The scientists “have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind,” the Nobel committee said.

The researchers triggered mutations in proteins to create desired versions.

Their work has led to the creation of medications and biofuels, and helped reduce the environmental harm from some industrial processes, the AP reported.

Arnold is only the fifth woman to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry since the awards began in 1901.


Suspected Ricin Found in Envelope Addressed to Trump

A substance suspected to the deadly toxin ricin has been found in an envelope addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, according to law enforcement officials.

The envelope appears to be connected to two similar envelopes that were delivered to the Pentagon mail facility on Monday and initially tested positive for ricin, CNN reported.

A Secret Service spokesman said “the Secret Service can confirm receipt of a suspicious envelope addressed to the President on Oct. 1, 2018.”

“The envelope was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House,” the spokesman told CNN.

The Secret Service is working with law enforcement partners to investigate the envelopes addressed to Trump, the spokesman said.

Further tests are being conducted on the envelopes sent to the Pentagon and White House. The envelopes sent to the Pentagon were detected in a mail facility in a separate building on the grounds of the Pentagon, and they never entered the Pentagon building, CNN reported.


Eating Processed Meats Increases Risk of Breast Cancer: Study

Women who eat processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham have an increased risk of breast cancer, researchers say.

They analyzed studies that included more than 1.2 million women and found that those who regularly ate processed meats were 9 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, CNN reported.

“This systematic review and meta-analysis study reports significant positive associations between processed meat consumption with risk of breast cancer,” the authors wrote.

“Cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer,” according to lead author Dr. Maryam Farvid, School of Public Health, Harvard University, CNN reported.

However, experts said the findings should be regarded with caution.

The paper leaves “many questions unanswered” and does not prove that higher consumption of processed meats led directly to breast cancer, Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics, Open University, U.K., told CNN.

The World Health Organization categorizes processed meat as a carcinogen.

But “while the evidence for classifying processed meat as a carcinogen is strong, the actual risk to the individual is very small and it is more relevant on a population level,” Gunter Kuhnle, associate professor in nutrition and health, University of Reading, U.K., told CNN.


More Illnesses in Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Gravel Ridge Farms Eggs: CDC

The multi-state salmonella outbreak linked to Gravel Ridge Farms cage-free large eggs has grown and consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not to eat, serve, or sell the eggs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

In an update Wednesday, the CDC said 24 more illnesses have been reported since the last update on Sept. 10, bringing the total to 38 cases in seven states. Ten people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses in the outbreak began on dates ranging from June 17 to Aug. 16, 2018. Gravel Ridge Farms recalled packages of a dozen and 2.5 dozen eggs in cardboard containers that were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

The investigation is continuing, the CDC said. People who think they got sick from eating the recalled eggs should contact a healthcare provider, the agency advised.

Symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps begin 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe, the CDC said.


FDA Seizes Documents from E-Cigarette Maker Juul

Thousands of pages of documents were seized from e-cigarette maker Juul by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during a surprise inspection last week as part of the agency’s investigation into the company’s marketing practices.

Juul controls 73 percent of the e-cigarette market and has come into the FDA’s crosshairs as teen e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, CNBC reported.

The surprise inspection at Juul’s San Francisco headquarters last week occurred a few weeks after the FDA told e-cigarette makers they have 60 days to submit plans on how to reduce youth use of their products.

The FDA also said it’s considering banning some flavored nicotine liquids that critics say entice youngsters to use e-cigarettes, CNBC reported.

Over the past year, the number of U.S. high school students who have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days rose by about 75 percent, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, people familiar with the data say.

That means that about 3 million, or 20 percent of high school students, are using e-cigarettes, compared with 1.73 million (11.7) percent in the last survey.

The sources did not to be identified because the latest survey isn’t yet public. It’s expected to be published later this year, CNBC reported.