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March 18, 2024 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


U.S. measles milestone: 60 cases so far in 2024 — more than all of 2023  (CBS)

The U.S. has now tallied at least 60 confirmed or suspected measles cases investigated so far this year by authorities in 17 states — more than the 58 cases reported nationwide in all of 2023. It comes as health officials are grappling with multiple major outbreaks around the world.  Now with spring break travel looming, health officials have ramped up pleas for Americans to double check whether they are up to date on the highly effective vaccines used to protect against measles.

'Zombie deer disease' cases are rising in the US. Can the disease spread to humans? (USA Today)

Experts aren't sure if "zombie deer disease" can spread to humans, but they're concerned about the rising number of cases and the potential of humans being impacted by exposure to infected deer. Scientists are still unsure if humans can contract the illness, but the disease is being compared to mad cow disease.

Blood test can detect colorectal cancer early, new study finds  (NPR)

At a time when colorectal cancer is on the rise, a new study finds the disease can be detected through a blood test. The results of a clinical trial, published Wednesday, in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that the blood-based screening test detects 83% of people with colorectal cancer. If the FDA approves it, the blood test would be another screening tool to detect the cancer at an early stage.

Teens are getting high on delta-8, or 'weed lite,' an unregulated form of THC  (NPR)

A national survey of more than 2,000 high school seniors across the country found that more than 11% used a drug called delta-8 THC in the past year. The psychoactive compound is derived from hemp, and often called "diet weed' or "weed lite." It's milder than its cousin, delta-9 THC, the main intoxicant in marijuana, but has similar effects on the brain and the body.

Overwhelming support for abortion in pregnancy-related emergencies, poll finds  


In the almost two years since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the unintended consequences of abortion bans have become clearer.  NPR has reported on women who were denied care for miscarriages and high-risk pregnancies

Cancer-causing chemical found in Clinique, Clearasil acne treatments, US lab reports (Reuters)

High levels of cancer-causing chemical benzene were detected in some acne treatments from brands including Estee Lauder's Clinique, Target's Up & Up and Reckitt Benckiser-owned Clearasil, said independent U.S. laboratory Valisure….  Benzene was also detected in Proactiv, PanOxyl, Walgreens' (WBA.O) acne soap bar and Walmart's (WMT.N) Equate Beauty acne cream….

The FDA issues an alert for 6 brands of cinnamon due to possibly containing lead   (NPR)

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an advisory for six brands of cinnamon due to possibly containing lead. / La Fiesta, Marcum, MK, Swad, Supreme Tradition and El Chilar brands of cinnamon are typically sold at discount stores and contain between 2.03 and 3.4 parts per million of lead.

A Major Source of Toxic PFAS Has Been Eliminated, FDA Says  (Consumer Reports)

Manufacturers have stopped selling grease-proof food packaging coatings that contains the harmful chemicals. It's a key step, but it's not the end of PFAS.

Strength training boosts longevity, mood and metabolism as it builds muscle   (NPR)

A new study finds women who do strength training exercises two to three days a week are more likely to live longer and have a lower risk of death from heart disease, compared to women who do none.

Maternal mortality numbers in the U.S. have been overestimated, study shows  (NPR)

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics' most recent report put the U.S. maternal mortality rate at a whopping 32.9 deaths per 100,000 births. A new study suggests the national U.S. maternal mortality rate is actually much lower than that: 10.4 deaths per 100,000 births.


US Supreme Court sets free-speech test for officials who block social media critics (Reuters)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday in a decision on free speech in the digital age set a new standard for determining if public officials acted in a governmental capacity when blocking critics on social media - a test to be applied in lawsuits accusing them of violating the Constitution's First Amendment. First Amendment protections for free speech generally constrain government actors, not private individuals. Under the new test, officials are considered engaging in governmental action if they had "actual authority to speak on behalf of the state on a particular matter" and "purported to exercise that authority in the relevant posts."

US House passes bill to force ByteDance to divest TikTok or face ban (Reuters)

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday that would give TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest the U.S. assets of the short-video app, or face a ban, in the greatest threat to the app since the Trump administration.

Pharmacies nationwide face delays as health-care tech company reports cyberattack (Fox Business)

Change Healthcare said it became aware of the "outside threat" on Wednesday morning, disconnecting their systems for security purposes.

Privately built lunar lander makes history with successful moon touchdown (NBC)

The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, touched down on the lunar surface at around 6:24 p.m. ET, overcoming a late-stage glitch with its onboard laser instruments.

Lockbit cybercrime gang faces global takedown with indictments and arrests (Reuters)

An international law enforcement operation led by Britain's National Crime Agency and the FBI has arrested and indicted members of the Lockbit ransomware gang, in an unprecedented police operation that has struck one of the world's most notorious cybercrime gangs.

Microsoft says it hasn't been able to shake Russian state hackers  (AP)

Microsoft said Friday it’s still trying to evict the elite Russian government hackers who broke into the email accounts of senior company executives in November and who it said have been trying to breach customer networks with stolen access data.  The hackers from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service used data obtained in the intrusion, which it disclosed in mid-January, to compromise some source-code repositories and internal systems….

CEO of Element Biosciences in Sorrento Valley Named to CNBC ‘Changemakers’ List  (Times of San Diego)

Element Biosciences CEO and co-founder Molly He has been selected to be part of the inaugural CNBC “Changemaker” list of trailblazing female leaders.  As a first-generation Asian female leader, He was honored by CNBC for spearheading an undertaking to democratize sequencing and biological tools globally.  Her team has grown to over 300 people and has sold over 160 instrument placements across 20 countries, opening access to emerging markets like India and Vietnam.

Lockbit cybercrime gang faces global takedown with indictments and arrests (Reuters)

An international law enforcement operation led by Britain's National Crime Agency and the FBI has arrested and indicted members of the Lockbit ransomware gang, in an unprecedented police operation that has struck one of the world's most notorious cybercrime gangs.

How sea cucumbers act as little allies for disappearing coral reefs  (NPR)

When sea cucumbers were removed, tissue death of the corals more than tripled, and whole colony mortality surged 15 times.



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