Health Highlights: Sept. 18, 2017

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

Pharmacist Faces Trial Over Deadly U.S. Meningitis Outbreak

A trial is set to begin Tuesday for the supervisory pharmacist at the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that was linked to a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroids.

The outbreak killed 76 people and sickened hundreds of others. Glenn Chin could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of all counts of second degree murder under federal racketeering law, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors may have a stronger cases against Chin than they did against Barry Cadden, the co-founder of the now-closed New England Compounding Center, according to experts and Chin’s defense attorney.

In June, Cadden was acquitted of second-degree murder charges but convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges, and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Chin was in charge of the clean rooms where steroid injections were made and is accused of failing to properly sterilize the drugs. Other charges include conspiracy and mail fraud, the AP reported.


Gut Bacteria Influence Diet Success: Study

Your gut bacteria may determine how successful you are when trying to lose weight, a new study says.

It included 62 overweight people in Denmark who ate either a low-fat diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables and whole grains, or a typical diet for 26 weeks, The New York Times reported.

In the high-fiber group, those with a high ratio of Prevotella to Bacteroides gut bacteria lost an average of 10 pounds of body fat, three and a half pounds more that those with a low ratio, according to the study in The International Journal of Obesity.

In the typical diet group, those with a high ratio lost four pounds, compared with five and half pounds for those with a low ratio. That difference was statistically insignificant.

“This finding is something that could really be used,” said study lead author Mads Hjorth, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, The Times reported.

“You can’t go and get this done now, but within a reasonable amount of time it might be a possibility,” he added.


Large Backlog of Disability Benefits Applicants

There is an average wait of nearly two years for the more than one million Americans appealing their denial of disability benefits from Social Security.

Some of them won’t live long enough to receive a hearing. Last year, 7,400 people on the wait lists were dead, according to a report by Social Security’s inspector general, the Associated Press found.

Most applicants are initially rejected, but the majority who complete the appeals process eventually receive benefits, Social Security Administration data shows.

The average benefit is only $1,037 a month, not enough to keep a family of two out of poverty, the AP reported.

Budget cuts over the past five years have contributed to the backlog, advocates say. The Social Security Administration says is plans to hire 500 new administrative law judges and more than 600 support staff in an effort to reduce wait times.