Health Highlights: April 6, 2018
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Hawaii Legalizes Medically-Assisted Suicide
A bill legalizing medically-assisted suicide in Hawaii was signed into law Thursday by Gov. David Ige.
The state joins California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and the District of Columbia in allowing the practice, the Associated Press reported.
"It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawaii residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace," Ige said.
The law permits doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, the AP reported.
Ige said "we know that we have gotten to a point in our community that it does make sense to give the patient a choice to request the medication, obtain it and take it, or ultimately change their mind."
Marijuana Side Effect That's on The Rise Can be Eased With Hot Shower: Study
A side effect of regular marijuana use may be on the rise in the U.S. but can be eased by having a hot shower, according to a new study.
The condition, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), causes nausea and cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users, and this study suggests that it may be more common than previously thought, The New York Times reported.
Researchers interviewed 2,127 adult patients, 50 and younger, at Bellevue hospital in New York City and found that 155 patients said they smoked marijuana at least 20 days a month.
Fifty-one of those heavy pot users said that over the past six months they had suffered nausea and vomiting that was relieved by having hot showers, according to the study in the journal Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology.
Based on their findings, the researchers calculated that as many as 2.7 million of the 8.3 million Americans known to smoke marijuana daily or nearly every day may have at least occasional bouts of CHS, The Times reported.
"The big news is that it's not a couple of thousand people who are affected -- it's a couple million people," said study lead author Dr. Joseph Habboushe, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at N.Y.U. Langone/Bellevue Medical Center.
Emergency room doctors say as marijuana use has increased, they've seen a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of CHS.
"After marijuana was legalized in Colorado, we had a doubling in the number of cases of cyclic vomiting syndrome we saw," and many were likely associated with marijuana use, Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, an emergency room doctor at University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora who has studied CHS, told The Times.
"CHS went from being something we didn't know about and never talked about to a very common problem over the last five years," Dr. Eric Lavonas, director of emergency medicine at Denver Health and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, told The Times.
But some doubt that CHS is on the rise among pot users.
Even as more Americans use marijuana, "this phenomenon is comparatively rare and seldom is reported" and affects only "a small percentage of people," Paul Armentano, the deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told The Times.
Several doctors who regularly prescribe medical marijuana said they have not seen CHS in their patients, but noted that most of the compounds they prescribe contain very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC.
Judge Blocks Methane Emissions Rule
An Obama administration law meant to limit harmful methane emissions on federal lands was halted again by a federal judge in Wyoming.
In blocking the clean-air rule indefinitely, Judge Scott Skavdahl said it "makes little sense" to force oil and gas companies to comply with the rule when the Trump administration is trying to roll-back the regulation, the AP reported.
There have been a number of back-and-forth court decisions over the rule that was introduced in November 2016 and requires energy companies to capture methane gas burned off or wasted at drilling sites on public lands. Methane emissions are a major contributor to climate change.
The Trump administration has been trying to weaken or delay the rule. The Interior Department is currently accepting comments on its proposed rewrite to the rule and expects to issue a final version this summer, the AP reported.
CDC Researcher Drowned: Officials
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who disappeared more than seven weeks ago drowned, but investigators have yet to determine how it happened, officials say.
Timothy Cunningham, a 35-year-old epidemiologist, went missing Feb. 12. His body was found Tuesday on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, fire-rescue department spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said at a news conference Thursday, the AP reported.
Dental records were used to identify the body, said Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak.
She determined the cause of death as drowning, but said no additional information was available because she was still awaiting toxicology reports, the AP reported.
"Since the investigation is ongoing, we do not have ... whether it was an accident, a suicide, or anything other than that" Cunningham drowned, Gorniak said.
Previous reports that Cunningham had been passed over for a promotion were incorrect, according to the CDC. A statement from the agency said Cunningham received an "exceptional proficiency promotion" July 1 to the position of commander, an early promotion reflecting his excellence as an employee, the AP reported.