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Health Capsules - 01/26/2020




Reporting from NYC, here are this weeks health news capsules as of January 26, 2020.


They include medical, health, and wellness news and urgent bulletins as well as recalls of drugs, medical devices.


Many thanks to the health news aggregators: ScienceDaily, Reuters, Medical News Today, Medical News Bulletin, MedScape, NewsMax Health, Medical Express, Insider Health, the FDA, and the CDC.


  • 5 FDA RECALLS + One

  • Coronavirus Update

  • Tap Water Is Poisoning You

  • Revised CDC Vaping Guidelines

  • Climate Change Unleashes New Germs And Triggers Heat-Related Deaths

  • 23 and Me In Financial Trouble

  • Flint Residents Can Sue State Over Water Contamination

  • Dead Sperm Donors

  • Good News: Cigarette Smoking At An All-time Low

  • More Good News: Kids Having Fewer Sick Visits and More Well Checks







First the FDA RECALLS:

•. Savannah Food Company voluntarily recalls their CORNBREAD DRESSING AND BREAD STUFFING PRODUCTS due to possible Listeria contamination from frozen eggs supplied by Almark Foods, Gainesville, general anesthesia.  These are sold under the Savannah Classics, Morrison’s, and Piccadilly Brands.  Return products to point of purchase.  Questions to Savannah Foods at 731-925-1155.


•. Five Star Foods voluntarily recalls Sham Gardens Excellent Tahina 800g and 400g due to potential Salmonella contamination.  Return product to point of purchase for full refund.  Questions to Mr. Omar at 810-919-3519.


•. ABH Natures’s Products, ABH Pharma, and is conducting an obligatory recall of all its dietary supplement products.  An FDA inspection found significant manufacturing violations that could lead to public risk.  This supplement manufacturer has been indicted after years of FDA violations.  Return the product to point of purchase.  Contact company at 866-922-4669 or


  • Nopalina voluntarily recalls its Flax Seed Fiber (powder and capsules) due to possible salmonella contamination.  Return product to point of purchase.


  • Cardinal Level 3 sterile surgical gowns provided to hospitals and sold at home health stores and on Amazon may not be sterile.  Cardinal is communicating with hospital about next steps but consumers should return the gowns to the point of purchase with questions to Cardinal at 800.964.5227.


  • Picato gel, ingenol topical generic, used as treatment for actinic keratosis, has been cited by the European Medicines Agency as a possible cause of skin cancer.  A 3 year study of 484 patients found an 8-fold higher incidence of cancer in users of Picato vs. Imiquiod.  In an abundance of caution, the agency recommends discontinuation of its use.  Our FDA is still gathering data.  Meanwhile, if you use Picato, I’d speak with your dermatologist about an alternative.


Now the NEWS.

Novel Coronavirus Facts

  • Novel virus thought to have originated in snakes sold at Wuhan street market.

  • Leads to a severe pneumonia in the very young, old, frail, or immunocompromised.

  • No vaccine.

  • No known effective anti-viral medications.

  • Treatment: respiratory support with oxygen, ventilator; treatment of secondary bacterial infections.

  • Prevention: travel restriction; fitted N95 surgical respirator mask.


Coronavirus Update

  • Bloomberg news: Infected: >2100 in China and worldwide; Dead: 56+

  • A total of 12 cities in central China’s central province on lockdown and public transit suspensions.Cases in Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, and 3 in the US (Everett, WA; Chicago, IL; Orange County, CA, maybe CT.).

  • WHO declines to declare an international emergency.

  • Forbidden City and a part of the Great Wall closed to tourists; other famous temples closed.

  • Wuhan is building a 2 new hospitals for virus victims only.

  • CDC and state department warn against non-essential central China travel.  Those who do should use mask and hand washing precautions. 

  • Chinese people are coping by watching the S. Korean disaster movie The Flu and by playing the computer simulation game Plague Inc.


Wei Ji, Wei Wang, Xiaofang Zhao, Junjie Zai, Xingguang Li. Homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein of the newly identified coronavirus may boost cross‐species transmission from snake to human. Journal of Medical Virology, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/jmv.25682


#coronavirus #China #SARS

coronavirus, China, SARS


Tap Water Is Poisoning You

PFAS, polyfluoroalkyl substances, the forever chemicals used to make Teflon cookware, cosmetics, and other consumer products, contaminates your drinking water.  These chemicals are unregulated and have been linked to cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity.  


The levels of these chemicals in our drinking water can be astronomically high, and the EPA and FDA is doing little about it.  I’ll be reporting in depth about this latest health menace on Monday, so stay tuned to my feed.


#pfas #water #bottled water

pfas, water, bottled water



Revised CDC Vaping Guidelines

No longer recommending discontinuing all vaping, the CDC is focusing its control efforts on drug-infused products as these have led to serious lung damage.  To date their have been 2,668 cases of lung disease and 60 deaths.  The CDC also continues to warn those under 21, pregnant women, and non-tobacco users that the risks of e-cigarettes outweigh their benefits.  Flavored solutions are still viewed as harmful as their contain heavy metals and attract teens to the habit.


#vaping #ecigarettes #evali

vaping, ecigarettes, evali



Climate Change Unleashes New Germs And Triggers Heat-Related Deaths

Johns Hopkins, George Washington U, and University of Texas predict that higher temperatures will select out new bacteria and viruses that will flourish in our bodies.  One example is Candida auris, the antibiotic resistant fungus.  Then our bodies can only regular our internal temperature within a few degrees.  Higher environmental temps with cause havoc.


Rexford S. Ahima. Global warming threatens human thermoregulation and survival. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2020; DOI: 10.1172/JCI135006


#globalwarming #resistantbacteria #heatstroke #heatexhaustion

globalwarming, resistantbacteria, heatstroke, heatexhaustion



Anthem Blue Cross Lowers Prescription Costs

The Blues national association and 18 Blues locals are investing $55 million to induce Civica Rx, a non-profit genetic drug distributor, to sell cheaper generics by obtaining volume discounts from manufacturers.  Civica may eventually even manufacture its own drugs.



23 and Me Having Financial Trouble

Laying off 100 staff representing 14% of employees.  DNA test sales down despite lowered price to $99 which only includes ancestry data, no health data. 


Though have been questions about the accuracy of the company’s tests, more and more people have privacy concerns.  The company does have rights to share your genetic results with commercial enterprises and law enforcement.


#23andme,  #genetictesting #privacy

23andme, genetictesting, privacy



Flint Residents Can Sue State Over Water Contamination

The US Supreme Court has ruled that Flint residents have the right to bring civil rights lawsuits against the state for permitting lead contamination in their water supply.  The switch from Lake Huron to the Flint River killed 12 people with Legionnaires’ disease and affected more than 25,000 with skin ailments and hair loss.  The 14th amendment protects Americans from government-induced harm to personal security and healthy. 



Dead Sperm Donors

With the demand for donor sperm outpacing availability in the UK, even with imports from the US and elsewhere docs there are turning to post-mortem sperm donations to fill the gap.  Sperm can be collected after death by electrical stimulation or by surgical extraction before being fresh frozen.   More sperm donors means a wider variety of genetic traits from which prospective parents may select.  There are many unsolved ethical considerations including the rights of the dead donor’s family, though they are not different from living donor issues.


Hodson N, Parker J The ethical case for non-directed postmortem sperm donation Journal of Medical Ethics Published Online First: 20 January 2020. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2019-105637


#sperm #donations #medicalethics

sperm, donations, medicalethics



Good News: Cigarette Smoking At An All-time Low

Currently 14% or 34 million Americans smoke.  This percentage down from nearly 40% in 1965, half a century ago.   That’s great news no matter how it is happening.  Nicotine dependence remains a problem but one with solutions: gum, patch, ecigarettes, counseling, cold turkey.



More Good News: Kids Having Fewer Sick Visits and More Well Checks

Visits for acute illness among the pediatric crowd dropped 21% according to a review of 71 million visits over an 8 year interval.  Visits for routine health maintenance increased 11%.  The docs chalk the improvements up to newly available vaccines, hand washing, and more proactive treatment by parents, particularly for simple colds.


Ray KN, Shi Z, Ganguli I, Rao A, Orav EJ, Mehrotra A. Trends in Pediatric Primary Care Visits Among Commercially Insured US Children, 2008-2016. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 21, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5509


#parenting #pediatrics #sickvisits #wellvisits

parenting, pediatrics, sickvisits, wellvisits




Those are this week’s Health News Capsules.


I’m Dr. Howard Smith

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