Health Highlights: April 5, 2018
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Missing CDC Researcher's Body Found
The body of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who went missing in February was pulled from a river in Atlanta this week, police said Thursday.
The remains of epidemiologist Timothy Cunningham, 35, were found Tuesday in the Chattahoochee River, according to Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos, CNN reported.
A police search was conducted after Cunningham vanished and a $10,000 reward was offered for clues. He was last seen on the morning of Feb. 12., when he learned he'd been passed over for a promotion and left work because he said he felt ill, co-workers told police.
Internet rumors linking his disappearance with his alleged role as a flu vaccine whistle-blower were debunked by police and his family, CNN reported.
In announcing that Cunningham's body had been found, police did not provide any information about why he disappeared. A news conference on the case was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Costs Rise for Large Employers: Report
Use of prescription opioid painkillers by Americans with employer-based health insurance has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, but there has been a steep rise in the cost of treating opioid addiction and overdoses, a new report says.
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the annual cost of treating opioid addiction and overdose involving both prescription and illegal use rose more than eight-fold between 2004 and 2016, from $0.3 billion to $2.6 billion.
The average per-patient cost of inpatient treatment for opioid addiction was $16,104 a year in 2016, up from $5,809 in 2004. More than half (53 percent) of that spending was for treatment of enrollees' dependent children.
However, use of prescription opioids peaked in 2009, when 17.3 percent of enrollees in large employer plans had at least one opioid prescription during the year. By 2016, the rate was 13.6 percent, the report found.
Opioid prescription use is highest among older enrollees, with 22 percent of people age 55-64 having at least one opioid prescription in 2016. Opioid prescription use is higher among people in the South (16 percent) than in the Midwest (14 percent), West (12 percent) or the Northeast (11 percent), according to the report.
Bananas Edge Out Sports Drinks in Study
Bananas may be a better choice for athletes than sports drinks, a new study suggests.
Researchers compared the effects of carbohydrates consumed during sports and found that bananas provide comparable or greater anti-inflammatory and other benefits than sports drinks, The New York Times reported.
One downside of bananas may be bloating, according to the authors of the study published in the journal PLoS One.
It's known that eating or drinking carbohydrates during extended workouts helps people keep going for longer or at higher intensity and recover more quickly afterward, The Times reported.
The study, which included 20 competitive cyclists, was partly funded by Dole Foods, which sells bananas.
The ideal amount of banana to consume during exercise is unclear, but the researchers plan to explore that issue in future studies, and also to assess the effects of other fruits during exercise, The Times reported.
But it appears that for people who want a natural and inexpensive alternative to sports drinks, "bananas look pretty good," according to study lead author David Nieman, director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State University.
More People Need to Carry Opioid OD Antidote: U.S. Surgeon General
The large number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States has led the nation's Surgeon General to call for more Americans to carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
There were more than 42,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, according to Dr. Jerome Adams. He wants people at risk, as well as their family members and friends, to have naloxone with them and know how to use it, the Associated Press reported.
"Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose -- that's one person every 12.5 minutes," Adams said in a statement "It is time to make sure more people have access to this lifesaving medication, because 77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home."
Adams is expected to discuss the new public health advisory Thursday morning at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, the AP reported.
Naloxone, which goes by the brand name Narcan, is injected or sprayed in the nostrils. The drug is available over the counter in most states and carried by many emergency responders nationwide.
As of July 2017, all 50 states had passed laws improving naloxone access, according to the The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit group.
"To manage opioid addiction and prevent future overdoses, increased naloxone availability must occur in conjunction with expanded access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder," Adams noted in the statement, the AP reported.
Staying Off Facebook Lowers Stress Hormone Levels: Study
Ditching Facebook may lower your stress levels, a new study suggests.
The 138 participants had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they took a 5-day-break from Facebook, even if it was for less than a week, Newsweek reported.
However, the participants -- described as active Facebook users -- also experienced lower levels of well-being while staying away from Facebook, according to the University of Queensland, Australia study in The Journal of Social Psychology.
The findings likely apply to other types of social media, the researchers said.
"I believe that our findings are probably not unique to Facebook," study lead author Eric Vanman told Newsweek.
"Some of my own students constantly check Instagram and Snapchat during my lectures, so I'm guessing that extending our research to other platforms would [show] similar effects," he said.