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September 23, 2023 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



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Did you have a severe case of COVID-19? Research suggests that Neanderthal genes could be to blame (Business Insider)

[Researchers] reported that they examined the DNA of nearly 1,200 volunteers in the Bergamo province, which was especially hard hit in the early days of the pandemic. What they found is that "Neanderthal haplotype," a set of genetic variants associated with the human ancestor, is "the major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19."… In particular, they found that people with the Neanderthal haplotype were twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia, the [Wall Street] Journal reported, and three times as likely to end up on a ventilator in an intensive-care unit.

CDC recommends updated Covid-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older(CNN)

…The CDC said in a news release that the shots from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will be available this week… The new vaccines have been updated to fend off the currently circulating viruses that cause Covid-19. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past 2 months, get an updated COVID-19 vaccine  to protect yourself this fall and winter….The endorsement from the CDC and the committee means the vaccines will be covered by public and private insurance plans.

Oregon launches legal psilocybin access amid high demand and hopes for improved mental health care (AP)

America’s first licensed psilocybin service center — opened in June, marking Oregon’s unprecedented step in offering the mind-bending drug to the public. The center now has a waitlist of more than 3,000 names… No prescription or referral is needed, but proponents hope Oregon’s legalization will spark a revolution in mental health care. Colorado voters last year passed a measure allowing regulated use of psychedelic mushrooms starting in 2024, and California’s Legislature this month approved a measure that would allow possession and use of certain plant- and mushroom-based psychedelics, including psilocybin and mescaline, with plans for health officials to develop guidelines for therapeutic use.

Half of Americans interested in getting updated COVID shot, Reuters/Ipsos poll shows (Reuters)

The results suggest that more might be willing to get a booster shot than a year ago when only around roughly one in six Americans opted for an updated shot, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….The nationwide online poll, which concluded on Thursday, showed that almost 30% of respondents were very interested in getting the vaccine and another 24% were somewhat interested. Almost 17% were not very interested and 30% were not interested at all.

How California’s current COVID wave ranks among the pandemic’s Top 5 – (San Jose Mercury News)

 California’s sneaky summer COVID wave is reaching heights not seen in more than a year as highly contagious strains of the virus continue to spread with the promise of a new vaccine days away.

Prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables help boost heart health (NPR)

…a new study adds to the evidence that a diet full of fruits and vegetables can help improve heart health. The research comes amid an epidemic of diet-related disease, which competes with smoking as a leading cause of death.  The study included nearly 4,000 people in 12 states… Approximately 85% of the participants reported that taking part in the program improved their health.

Popular nasal decongestant doesn't actually relieve congestion, FDA advisers say(CBS 8)

The leading decongestant used by millions of Americans looking for relief from a stuffy nose is likely no better than a dummy pill, according to government experts who reviewed the latest research on the long-questioned drug ingredient. / Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Tuesday against the effectiveness of the ingredient found in popular versions of Sudafed, Allegra, Dayquil and other medications stocked on store shelves

Does Ozempic have mental health side effects?   (NPR)

…In July, the European Medicines Agency said that it was looking into the risk of thoughts of self-harm and suicidal thoughts with the use of Ozempic and similar drugs. As of July 11, the regulator, Europe's FDA, was evaluating more than 150 reports. The FDA hasn't taken that step. For now, the agency is monitoring the situation.



California passes laws to aid digital consumers  (KPBS)

California lawmakers passed two bills aimed at improving the lives of digital consumers in the state. The Delete Act would make it easier for Californians to remove their personal information online through a single request. The Right to Repair Act looks to make repairing electronics and appliances easier, reducing electronic waste in the process. Both bills now wait for Gov. Gavin Newsom's final approval.

Experts say modern cars can violate consumer privacy (NPR)

….according to a new report, your car could be worse than your phone when it comes to privacy.

Musk says he refused Kyiv request for Starlink use in attack on Russia  (Reuters)

Elon Musk said he refused a Ukrainian request to activate his Starlink satellite network in Crimea's port city of Sevastopol last year to aid an attack on Russia's fleet there, saying he feared complicity in a "major" act of war.  The billionaire businessman made comment on his social media platform X after CNN cited a excerpt from a new biography of Musk that says he ordered the Starlink network turned off near the Crimean coast last year to disrupt the Ukrainian sneak attack.

Newsom signs executive order preparing California for AI (Los Angeles Times)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to study the development, use and risks of generative artificial intelligence — one of the most significant steps taken by a state to potentially regulate the rapidly growing technology.



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