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Sluggish Coworker? Maybe They 'Pigged Out' Last Night

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Midnight snacks might feel satisfying in the moment -- but they can also knock people off their game at work the next day, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed nearly 100 employees, found a connection between "unhealthy" eating in the evening and under-performance at work the next day.

In general, people tended to be disengaged at work when they felt they'd overindulged the evening before -- by eating too many calories, having junk food, or snacking late into the night.

And there seemed to be both physical and emotional reasons, researchers found: Sometimes the work malaise was related to stomach pains and headaches; other times people felt guilty about their eating choices.

It's the latter finding that's particularly interesting, according to researcher Seonghee "Sophia" Cho, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

The fact that junk food at midnight can lead to indigestion the next morning -- and less-than-stellar work performance -- is "intuitive," she said.

But these findings also imply that people's "self-blaming" over food can seep into their work life, Cho said. And it's not as easy to connect those dots, she noted.

Even when it comes to research, there has been little attention paid to the short-term effects of food choices on work performance. That's in contrast to other lifestyle habits like sleep (or lack thereof) and physical activity, Cho said.

"Here we were asking: Does unhealthy eating have an immediate effect?" she said.

It appeared to -- though, unsurprisingly, it's complex.

For one, midnight snacking did not bother everyone, the study found. People who scored higher on a measure of "emotional stability" tended not to feel guilty over food choices, and their work didn't suffer.

There's also a question of where the "chain" begins, according to Colleen Tewksbury, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

That is, did those midnight cookies trigger the cascade of negative emotions, or did people eat in response to stress -- and that snowballed the next day?

But the bottom line, Tewksbury said, is that while food itself is "morally neutral," people can have emotions and judgments around it.

And when they feel guilty about diet choices, those feelings don't exist in a vacuum.

"The negative feelings don't just stop there," said Tewksbury, who is also a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She was not part of the study.

The findings -- published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology -- are based on 97 full-time workers who kept daily diaries for two weeks.

Before work each day, they answered questions about their physical and emotional well-being. At the end of the day, they noted what they'd done at work, and each night they reported on their after-work eating habits.

When people said they'd downed "too many" calories, junk foods or late-night snacks, that was considered unhealthy eating.

In general, the study found, people tended to be withdrawn at work if they'd reported unhealthy eating the night before. "Withdrawn" included issues like taking longer-than-normal breaks, falling asleep on the job, or leaving early.

It's possible, Cho said, that poor sleep was a factor. If heavy meals before bed disrupted people's sleep, that could make them feel worse both physically and mentally in the morning.

Late-night snacks are not "inherently bad," Tewksbury said. It's the context that matters, she emphasized: Why are you eating? What are you eating, not only at night but throughout the day? And what other lifestyle choices are you making?

The new findings, Tewksbury said, reinforce the message that stress, emotional responses, lifestyle habits and work performance are all "intertwined."

"Adjusting one thing will also impact the others," she said.

People who need help sorting things out could consult a registered dietitian, Tewksbury said.

Cho agreed that evening snacks are not bad, in and of themselves -- and the point here, she said, is not to worsen people's guilt over midnight munching.

But, she said, people are not always aware of the connections between food and emotions, so it's good to have that knowledge. And if you are sometimes feeling off at work, Cho said, it might be useful to think about your eating habits the night before, and how you felt in the morning.

More information

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has advice on late-night eating.

SOURCES: Seonghee "Sophia" Cho, PhD, assistant professor, psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh; Colleen Tewksbury, PhD, MPH, RDN, senior research investigator, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and national spokeswoman, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago; Journal of Applied Psychology, March 25, 2021, online

Could Widely Used Blood Pressure Meds Raise Skin Cancer Risk?

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Most people are familiar with common sun-protection advice, from wearing and reapplying sunscreen to putting on a hat.

But a new Canadian study finds that for people who take certain blood pressure medications, that advice becomes even more critical because those drugs can increase their sensitivity to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

The researchers reviewed data for nearly 303,000 adults in Ontario over 65 who were prescribed medications for high blood pressure. The study then compared their skin cancer histories with those of more then 605,000 adults who weren't taking antihypertensive drugs.

The findings showed that certain types of high blood pressure drugs — known as thiazide diuretics — were associated with higher rates of keratinocyte skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, advanced keratinocyte carcinoma and melanoma.

"Our finding is not meant to rule out thiazide diuretics for patients," stressed study author Dr. Aaron Drucker. He's a clinical investigator in the dermatology department at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, in Providence, R.I.

"Overall, it's more a potential flag for someone who might be at increased risk of skin cancer, that has had one in the past or they have really fair skin and a lot of sun damage, that this might predispose them further to more skin cancer. Then, yes, someone like that might consider an alternative," Drucker said.

Four other blood pressure medications — angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) and calcium channel blockers — did not show an association with skin cancer risk.

"None of the other antihypertensive medications show the same signal, so in a way we have four negative controls," Drucker said.

Previous studies had shown increased risk of skin cancer among people taking the drug, also known as hydrochlorothiazide. This most common of the thiazide drugs earlier prompted warnings against prolonged use by Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, the study authors noted.

This new study followed people over time to determine if risk happened not just because a person took these medications, but whether the cumulative dose or duration might impact their skin cancer risk. Higher cumulative exposure (taking the medications over a longer period of time) was associated with increased rates of skin cancer, the findings showed.

"If you're on these medications for just a few years, it doesn't have a major impact on your cancer risk. But for someone who has been on, let's say, 25 milligrams a day of hydrochlorothiazide for 10 years, in our study that person would have a 40% increased risk of keratinocyte carcinoma," Drucker said. If they were on that same dose for 20 years, the increased relative risk compared to somebody who had not taken hydrochlorothiazide is a 75% increased risk, he added.

"So, there's a big effect of how much of it you've taken over how long that I think is really important to get across," Drucker explained.

UV radiation exposure is the most important environmental risk factor for skin cancer. Phototoxicity induced by medication can cause cellular damage to the skin, increasing the sun's carcinogenic potential, the study authors noted in the report published April 12 in the CMAJ.

Dr. John Strasswimmer is a Florida-based board-certified dermatologist and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. He was not involved with the study, but commented on the findings.

"Skin cancer is a major increasing cancer in the United States," he said. "And, unfortunately, while we're getting better and better at treating them, just due to the sheer numbers of tumors, we're also having too many people still dying from skin cancers. And even those who don't die from it, it becomes a very big [health] problem for them. It really hurts their quality of life."

Strasswimmer said he hopes this study will encourage those using this common medication to practice good sun protection. There's no safe tan except perhaps a spray tan, he added. Any exposure that causes you to tan can also cause precancerous and cancerous changes to your skin.

He recommends stepping into the shade when you can. Cover your head. Wear good-quality UV clothing. And cover those other parts of your body with a good-quality sunscreen. Don't forget to reapply because it can break down, Strasswimmer said. People should also familiarize themselves with what skin cancer looks like.

"Skin cancer is an incredibly important disease to take care of," he noted. "However, it's not the only one." He pointed out that heart disease and high blood pressure are silent killers that cause a lot of death in the United States. "So, I think the last thing we would want to see would be people considering stopping their medications," Strasswimmer said.

"In this scenario, where people might be extra high risk for developing skin cancer or maybe have had a high risk for skin cancer, this could certainly prompt a conversation with their primary care doctor to find out if there might be an equivalent change that could be made," he suggested.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more information on skin cancer.

SOURCES: Aaron Drucker, MD, board-certified dermatologist and clinical investigator, department of dermatology, Brown University Alpert Medical School, Providence, R.I.; John Strasswimmer, MD, PhD, board-certified dermatologist, Delray Beach, Fla., spokesperson, Skin Cancer Foundation, and clinical professor, medicine/research professor of science, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fla.; CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), April 12, 2021

Making E-Cigs Cool: Singers, Models in Music Videos Get Teens Vaping

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- DJ Khaled, Halsey and other musicians are selling electronic cigarettes to young people through product placement in music videos that receive hundreds of millions of views, a pair of new studies report.

Overall, music videos identified as featuring e-cigarette product placements during a four-month period in 2018 received more than 1.6 billion total views on YouTube, researchers report in a media review.

The videos feature female models using vape products and exhaling vapor clouds. In one scene, DJ Khaled himself uses a device and blows a puff into the camera.

"I was surprised at the reach of the music videos," said senior researcher Jon-Patrick Allem, an assistant professor of research at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. "Some of them highlighted in the paper and some similar videos I've come across outside of the study period receive a billion views in a relatively short period of time."

Exposure to glamorous images of e-cigarette use does have an impact on a young person's decision to vape, according to a second study.

Young adults who recalled seeing vaping in a music video they watched were nearly three times more likely to report ever trying an e-cigarette and more than three times as likely to have vaped in the past month, compared with those never exposed to such imagery, the researchers found.

"We're seeing evidence of a dose-response relationship," Allem said. "The more a young person recalls seeing a specific music video that did have vaping product placement, the more likely they were to report current e-cigarette use compared to someone who had less exposure."

In the first study, researchers reviewed 180 official music videos from the Billboard Hot 100 song list between June and September 2018, looking for ones that contained e-cigarette product placement.

The investigators found only seven music videos that featured vaping, or about 4% of the videos reviewed. Six featured e-cigarette use, and one showed an aerosol cloud.

The videos included "Te Boté" by Casper Mágico, Nio García and Darell; "No Brainer" by DJ Khaled; "Narcos" by Migos; and "Alone" by Halsey.

Even though videos featuring vaping were few, their reach was great, receiving more than 1.6 billion views on YouTube alone.

The second study surveyed 1,280 young adults (aged 18 to 24) to see if this sort of exposure had any influence. Participants answered an online questionnaire between August and October of 2019.

Those exposed to any e-cigarette product placement in music videos were 2.8 times more likely to report ever trying to vape and 3.6 times more likely to have vaped in the past 30 days, the researchers found.

Further, those who remembered seeing more videos with vaping in them had a greater chance of picking up an e-cigarette, the findings showed.

"People who report watching seven, eight or nine videos are more likely to report e-cigarette use than someone who's seen one or two videos," Allem said.

The U.S. 1998 tobacco lawsuit settlement between 46 states and the big four tobacco companies restricted paid product placement for cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other traditional forms of tobacco, Allem noted.

"They agreed there would no longer be product placement for combustible cigarettes and chew tobacco in music videos, in television and in movies," he said. "But electronic cigarettes didn't exist at this time. They weren't a thing, so they clearly aren't part of that agreement."

State prosecutors should consider legal action to make e-cigarettes part of this earlier agreement, Allem said.

"The groundwork or precedent is there to say, hey, if we can't have product placement with these companies, why wouldn't that extend to electronic cigarettes and other types of products that are harmful to the developing brain?" he said.

But with the advent of the internet, any effort limited solely to within the United States is not likely to have a major impact, said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, director of the Tobacco Treatment Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

"International movies and shows have a lot of e-cigarette usage. It's hard to find ones where you don't see young characters vaping," Galiatsatos said. "Any effort to drive this down can't be American-centric. These streaming services have international films and series that are very appealing and watched heavily in the U.S. You need to tackle this in a global manner."

In the meantime, Allem and Galiatsatos urged parents to be proactive in discussing e-cigarettes with their kids.

"Parents should discuss the harms of vaping with their children. Nicotine is a poison for the developing brain, and it is highly addictive," Allem said. "They also should discuss the possibility of media influencing and manipulating them, and this notion that what they're seeing in these videos could lead one to believe that certain behaviors are normal and rewarding, and are desired."

Galiatsatos agreed.

"You've got to get ahead of this, because if you don't, your children will be introduced to this without your influence," he said. "Don't let them be seduced by social media or by movies. Films make things appear more glamorous than the reality. It's definitely up to the parents to ensure the child recognizes that's not a glamorous thing."

The new findings were published April 6 in the journal Health Education & Behavior. The earlier report was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about e-cigarettes and youth.

SOURCES: Jon-Patrick Allem, PhD, assistant professor, research, department of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Panagis Galiatsatos, MD, MHS, director, Tobacco Treatment Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore; Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Dec. 26, 2020; Health Education & Behavior, April 6, 2021

AHA News: Instructed in CPR By 911 Dispatcher, Nebraska Couple Saves 13-Day-Old Son

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- During a nightly TV newscast in January, anchor Bill Schammert's voice broke as he described why he'd been off the air for a few days.

It started when his 13-day-old son, Cameron, came down with a case of the sniffles. Just to be on the safe side, the pediatrician suggested bringing him in for a checkup.

They never made it there. After strapping Cameron into his car seat, Bill noticed the infant gasping for air.

"He was as purple as purple can be," he said.

His wife, Kym, unstrapped Cameron and took him out of the sedan while Bill called 911. Dispatcher Lisa Pachunka ran through a list of questions to assess the situation. Was the baby choking? Was something blocking his airway?

"He was just limp in our arms," Bill said.

Pachunka listened intently, "hoping I'd hear his baby cry after a few seconds."

"But that wasn't the case," she said.

When it was clear Cameron needed CPR, Pachunka asked if Bill or Kym knew how to perform the lifesaving technique. While they had learned it during prenatal classes three years ago when Kym was pregnant with their eldest son, Theo, in the stress of this moment, their minds went blank.

So, her voice emanating from the mobile phone's speaker, Pachunka guided them through it.

She explained how to properly do infant chest compressions, using two fingers in the center of the chest, about a half-inch below the nipples, and reminded them to cover Cameron's entire nose and mouth with their mouths when breathing into his lungs.

Kym did the first few rounds, alternating 30 compressions with two breaths. Then Bill took over for two rounds.

"During the most stressful moment of our lives, (Pachunka) was one of the calmest voices I'd ever heard," Bill said.

Finally, Cameron let out a cry. His skin pinkened again. Seconds later, paramedics arrived and rushed Kym and the baby to the closest hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, while Bill followed in his car.

At the hospital, doctors tested Cameron for flu, COVID-19 and a slew of other viral infections. All tests came back negative. Then a chest X-ray revealed that his lungs were congested, prompting doctors to recommend he get treated at the children's hospital in Omaha.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, Bill and Kym couldn't join Cameron in the ambulance for the drive to the hospital.

"There was a gap from about 4:15 to 6:45 where we didn't see Cameron," Bill said. "That was one of the harder moments."

When Bill and Kym arrived at the hospital, Cameron's oxygen levels were still in flux.

The next morning, his sniffles were gone and his oxygen had returned to normal.

"Doctors think he had a mucus plug he couldn't expel, which blocked his airway," Bill said. "We were surrounded by heroes and the best possible outcome happened."

They are quick to credit Pachunka for saving Cameron's life. After they returned home, Bill arranged to meet her in person.

"It was very emotional," said Pachunka, who had never met a caller before and felt honored that Bill arranged it. "As much as he says I'm a hero, he should get the credit for being such a great dad in that situation."

On his first day back at work, Bill asked his producer for a few minutes of airtime to share his story. In addition to recognizing Pachunka, the first responders and the medical professionals who took care of Cameron, he wanted to raise awareness about the importance of learning CPR.

"These skills aren't hard to pick up," Bill said, "and they could save a life."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Tate Gunnerson

Antibody Cocktail May Curb Infection in Unvaccinated Who Are Exposed to COVID-19

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- People living with someone who has COVID-19 appear to get powerful protection against infection when they are given Regeneron's antibody cocktail, a new study shows.

The findings suggest that beyond preventing the worst outcomes for coronavirus infection when given early enough, the cocktail could also prevent people from getting sick in the first place, the company said Monday.

"With more than 60,000 Americans continuing to be diagnosed with COVID-19 every day, the REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may help provide immediate protection to unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus, and we are also working to understand its potential to provide ongoing protection for immunocompromised patients who may not respond well to vaccines," Dr. George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron, said in a statement.

In its statement, Regeneron said it would ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand the drug's emergency authorization use -- for high-risk people who already have COVID-19 but are not hospitalized -- to allow it to be given for preventive purposes in "appropriate populations."

There's "a very substantial number of people" in the United States and globally who could be a good fit to receive these drugs for preventive purposes, Dr. Myron Cohen, a University of North Carolina researcher told The New York Times. He leads monoclonal antibody efforts for the Covid Prevention Network, a U.S. National Institutes of Health-sponsored initiative that helped oversee the Regeneron trial.

"Not everyone's going to take a vaccine, no matter what we do, and not everyone's going to respond to a vaccine," Cohen noted.

The new data on Regeneron's antibody cocktail comes from a clinical trial that enrolled more than 1,500 people who lived in the same house as someone who had tested positive for the virus within the previous four days. Those who got an injection of Regeneron's drug were 81 percent less likely to get sick with COVID-19 compared to volunteers who got a placebo, the company said.

Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the study, told the Times that the data were "promising" for people who have not been vaccinated. But he noted that the type of patients that would be needed to determine whether the drug should be used preventively for immunocompromised patients were not included in the trial. "I would say we don't yet know that," Gandhi said.

Regeneron's cocktail, a combination of two drugs designed to mimic the antibodies generated naturally when the immune system fends off the virus, was given to President Donald Trump after he got sick with COVID-19 last fall.

The treatment received emergency authorization last November. Doctors are using it, as well as another antibody cocktail from Eli Lilly, for high-risk COVID-19 patients, to guard against severe disease and hospitalization.

But many hospitals and clinics have not made the treatments a priority because they are time-consuming and difficult to administer, mostly because they must be given via intravenously. Regeneron plans to ask the FDA to allow its drug to be given via an injection, as it was in the latest study, which would allow it to be given more quickly and easily.

J&J Covid Vaccine Supply to Drop 86% This Week

In a setback to a national vaccination campaign that was finally gaining ground, the federal government said last week that Johnson & Johnson will allocate 86 percent fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine across the United States this week.

The company delivered the first batch of its single-dose vaccine at the beginning of March, sending 2.8 million doses across the country before dipping below 400,000 in the following weeks, the Times reported. Last week, about 1.9 million doses were sent across the country, and last week 4.9 million shots went out. This week, that number will drop to 700,000.

Federal administrators divide vaccine doses nationwide based on each state's adult population. That means that California will bear the brunt of the reduction: After receiving 572,700 doses of the vaccine last week, it will get only 67,600 doses of the J&J shot this week, the Times reported.

In Texas, the allocation will drop to 46,300 from 392,100. Florida, which received 313,200 shots last week, will get 37,000 this week, the newspaper said.

The slowdown comes days after federal officials learned that Emergent BioSolutions, a contract manufacturer that has been making both the Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccines in a Baltimore plant, had mixed up ingredients from the two and ruined up to 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

How big a role that problem has played in Johnson & Johnson distribution woes is hard to determine, the Times said.

Distribution hasn't been Johnson & Johnson's only problem: North Carolina health officials said last week that they stopped administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses at a mass immunization site in Raleigh and at clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, including fainting, the Associated Press reported. Four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, and state and federal health officials are reviewing the matter.

Kristen Nordlund, spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the AP that it is aware of adverse reactions in some people who received the vaccine shots in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina. Those reactions include dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint and rapid breathing.

Nordlund said the CDC is working with state and local officials to evaluate the problem and has performed vaccine lot analyses and found no cause for concern. The CDC is not telling health departments to stop vaccinations, the AP noted.

As for the nation's overall vaccination effort, the CDC reported Monday that just over 119 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, including about 72.6 million people who have been fully vaccinated.

COVID cases climb in Midwest as British variant takes hold

As new coronavirus cases soared across the Upper Midwest last week, a top health official said that a highly infectious variant first discovered in Britain has now become the most common source of infections in this country.

"Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House media briefing. There are now nearly 21,000 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the United States, according to the CDC.

Scientists and federal health officials have warned repeatedly that a fourth wave of coronavirus cases could arise in the United States this spring because of the emergence of more contagious variants and the easing of social distancing measures.

In the Upper Midwest, Michigan has been slammed: New cases and hospitalizations there have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and the six metro areas in the United States with the greatest number of new cases relative to their population are all in Michigan, the Times reported.

Several other states in the Upper Midwest have also reported significant increases in new infections and hospitalizations. In Illinois, the daily average for new cases has jumped about 56 percent in the past two weeks, to about 2,832 a day, the Times reported. Hospitalizations have risen about 28 percent from two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Wisconsin and North Dakota have seen their average case counts jump 50 percent or more in the last two weeks.

Nationally, new cases have stalled overall, while hospitalizations have leveled off and deaths remain near an average of about 800 a day, according to the Times.

The U.S. coronavirus case count passed 31.2 million on Monday, while the death toll passed 561,500, according to a Times tally. On Monday, the top five states for coronavirus infections were: California with more than 3.7 million cases; Texas with over 2.8 million cases; Florida with more than 2.1 million cases; New York with over 1.9 million cases; and Illinois with nearly 1.3 million cases. Worldwide, more than 136 million cases had been reported by Monday, with over 2.9 million dead from COVID-19.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.


SOURCES: The New York Times; Associated Press

Health Highlights: April 12, 2021


Chinese COVID-19 Vaccines Not Very Effective: Official

Chinese COVID-19 vaccines "don't have very high protection rates," the director of the China Centers for Disease Control admitted over the weekend.

At a conference on Saturday, Gao Fu also said the government is considering mixing them to improve their effectiveness, the Associated Press reported.

"It's now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process," Gao said.

While distributing hundreds of millions of doses of its vaccine to other nations, Chinese officials have tried to spread doubt about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine made using the messenger RNA (mRNA) process, the AP reported. China's vaccines are not mRNA vaccines.

But on Saturday, Gao said, ""Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity. We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already [in China]."

Experts say mixing vaccines might boost effectiveness. Researchers in Britain are studying a possible combination of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and the traditional AstraZeneca vaccine, the AP reported.

Vaccines made by Sinovac, a private company, and Sinopharm, a state-owned firm, have made up the bulk of Chinese vaccines distributed to several dozen countries including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil and Turkey.

The effectiveness of a Sinovac vaccine at preventing symptomatic infections was found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil, just above the 50% threshold at which health experts say a vaccine is useful. By comparison, the Pfizer vaccine has been found to be 97% effective, the AP reported.


Scammers Selling Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards

Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are being sold online at sites such as eBay, Etsy and Shopify, and bogus ads for the cards are appearing on Facebook, according to Fakespot CEO Saoud Khalifah.

"In January, we started noticing Shopify stores selling fake vaccination cards, and that was really interesting because it introduced a new dynamic to society where people can counterfeit immunity and interplace it with a fake card," Khalifah told CBS MoneyWatch. "It's a new concept we haven't seen before."

Fakespot, which uses artificial intelligence to identify online retail scams, has pinpointed hundreds of different sellers of fake vaccination cards since the start of the year. The company believes those scammers have sold thousands of false records.

Khalifah told CBS Moneywatch that he suspects some purchasers of the fake cards are "anti-vaxxers" who don't plan on becoming vaccinated but want whatever access a card can give them.

Ever after being banned from sites, some sellers have popped up again to sell fake cards under different names, Khalifah told MoneyWatch.

Shopify, a platform that allows retailers to create ecommerce sites, said it has acted swiftly against users of its technology who are trying to sell fraudulent vaccination cards. Hawking bogus cards violates the company's policies, the company told CBS MoneyWatch, noting that it has been monitoring its platform for such schemes since February.

To date, Shopify has terminated three stores it found to be selling fake or blank vaccination cards, or fraudulent vaccine stamps.

"All stores that we identified for violating our policies were actioned swiftly," Narayanadas said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.

Etsy also confirmed that the sale of phony vaccine cards violates the site's rules and that it is removing any posts advertising the fake records. EBay said it blocks or quickly removes items on its marketplace that make false health claims, "including vaccine ID cards or any similar items that could be used to falsely represent a person has received the vaccine."

A Twitter spokesperson said it has ramped up efforts to block misinformation and has deleted tweets and accounts that violate its policies on misleading information. Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Had Facial Fillers? What You Need to Know About COVID Vaccines

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Once you've landed that coveted coronavirus vaccine appointment, you'll likely have to fill out a form on your medical history and whether you're allergic to any of the vaccine's ingredients. But there could be another question waiting for you: Have you ever had dermal filler injections?

That's because -- in rare cases -- people who've had the face-plumping injections can develop a mild, temporary swelling at the site of the filler after getting their shots.

Still, there's no reason to panic, experts say, because such a reaction does not mean the vaccines aren't safe. Barring any allergies or other medical reasons to avoid vaccination, people with fillers can and should get vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Lots of people get facial fillers, and the likelihood of developing this kind of a reaction to the vaccine is exceptionally rare," said Dr. Esther Freeman, director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. "So, this does not mean that everybody who gets facial fillers will get this kind of a reaction. It's still very unusual."

If you are one of the unlucky few whose fillers swell up after getting vaccinated, Freeman said you should reach out to a dermatologist, who will most likely recommend antihistamines or steroids to help resolve the swelling a little bit faster.

But, "it's really important to know that this is not life-threatening," Freeman added.

For those who are unfamiliar, dermal fillers are used to "lift, shape, contour or plump the tissues of the face" using an injectable gel made of hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the skin, said Dr. Lara Devgan, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City.

Cosmetic fillers are not the same as Botox, as the filler stays under the skin for an extended period while Botox is quickly absorbed after it relaxes muscles and flattens wrinkles, she explained.

And instances of delayed swelling related to dermal fillers are not the same as allergic reactions to the vaccine, which are also rare but are more serious. After receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, you'll need to stick around for at least 15 minutes, as allergic reactions typically occur within that tight time frame.

"The reason that they have you wait after a vaccine is for what is called an immediate-type allergic reaction, which the CDC defines as an allergic reaction that happens within the first four hours after vaccination," Freeman explained.

"And those include things like anaphylaxis and difficulty breathing. The filler reactions are not those," she added. "They are a completely different kind of reaction that usually doesn't start until the next day or a couple of days later. It has no ability for it to turn into anaphylaxis, which is the severe allergic reaction."

Fears surrounding filler-related vaccine reactions first emerged in December when health officials pored over data from Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine trials. The data revealed that three people who had cosmetic filler injections in their face saw their filler area swell up temporarily, approximately one to two days after getting the Moderna vaccine.

Dermatologists like Devgan began fielding calls from concerned patients whose fears of filler-related swelling were so great that they considered refusing the vaccine.

There were no other reports of filler-related swelling in the vaccine trials, other than these three instances that occurred out of the over 15,000 people enrolled in the Moderna trial. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines (the other vaccines currently authorized in the United States) reported no such reactions in their trials.

Since December, Freeman and a group of dermatologists across the United States have been collecting reports of skin reactions that have occurred following vaccination with either Moderna or Pfizer's mRNA vaccines.

The team published a paper in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology detailing 414 patients who reported one or more vaccine-related skin reactions between December 2020 and February 2021, including nine reports of swelling at the site of cosmetic fillers. Three of the nine occurred after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, five after the second Moderna dose, and one after the second Pfizer dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not included in their data, as it was not yet authorized for emergency use when the study began.

Similar skin reactions have been reported after other vaccines like the flu vaccine and even after other viral illnesses, experts said.

"We also have patients who report swelling for a day or two when they get a flu shot, when they eat salty food, after being in a sauna or steam room, or when they participate in any activity that gives them a little bit of diffuse inflammation," Devgan noted.

"I think people have realized that the COVID vaccine is very important from a public health standpoint, and that some of the early fears about filler reactions have been quelled by good reporting and have been placed in a broader context," Devgan said. "I think most of the patients that I'm talking to understand the cost-benefit analysis of the vaccine versus a possible transient swelling around injectable fillers. In that question, the vaccine wins."

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on coronavirus vaccines.

SOURCES: Esther Freeman, MD, board-certified dermatologist, director, Global Health Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Lara Devgan, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon, New York City; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, April 7, 2021

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis Can Take Big Toll on Women's Mental Health

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Ovarian cancer is a tough diagnosis to cope with, and now a new study finds these patients face a much higher risk of depression and other mental health issues.

And the emotional anguish exacted a significant toll: The researchers also found it was associated with an increased risk of death during the study period among these women.

"Mental health issues are important for cancer patients as they face major disruptions to their lives and deal with the toxic side effects of cancer treatment," said study lead author Siqi Hu. She is a PhD candidate in the University of Utah's department of family and preventive medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute, in Salt Lake City.

"We wanted to examine mental health in ovarian cancer patients, who often face a poor prognosis," Hu explained in an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) news release.

For the study, the investigators analyzed the medical records of nearly 1,700 women in Utah who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 1996 and 2012, and compared them with more than 7,000 women without cancer.

Compared to the general public, women with ovarian cancer were over three times more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness in the two years after their cancer diagnosis, the findings showed.

Ovarian cancer patients' risk of depression was just over three times higher in the first two years after their cancer diagnosis, and almost 1.7 times higher two to five years after diagnosis.

And their risk of anxiety disorder was 3.5 times higher in the two years after diagnosis and nearly twice as high two to five years after diagnosis, the researchers said. In addition, their risk of adjustment disorder was over three times higher compared to women who did not have ovarian cancer.

The investigators also found that ovarian cancer patients with a mental health diagnosis were nearly twice as likely to die during the study period than those without a mental health diagnosis.

Based on previous research, Hu expected to find an increased risk of mental health disorders in ovarian cancer patients.

"However, the risks were far higher and persisted over a longer time period than we expected," she added.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, the study authors said. It's often diagnosed at an advanced stage, which makes it difficult to treat and results in a five-year relative survival rate of about 49%.

The study was scheduled for presentation during the AACR's virtual annual meeting, held from April 10 to 15. Such research should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on ovarian cancer.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, April 10, 2021

COVID Vaccines Might Not Protect Certain Cancer Patients

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- People with cancers of the blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes are at an increased risk of not making protective coronavirus antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination, a new study warns.

The risk is particularly high for those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The researchers urged these patients and those who interact with them to get vaccinated but to keep wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

"As we see more national guidance allowing for unmasked gatherings among vaccinated people, clinicians should counsel their immunocompromised patients about the possibility that COVID-19 vaccines may not fully protect them against SARS-CoV-2," said senior author Dr. Ghady Haidar, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) transplant infectious diseases physician.

"Our results show that the odds of the vaccine producing an antibody response in people with hematologic malignancies are the equivalent of a coin flip," he said in a university news release.

Haidar added that a negative antibody test does not necessarily mean the patient isn't protected from COVID-19.

Patients with blood cancers have more than a 30% risk of dying if they get COVID-19 and so they should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, the researchers added.

These patients were excluded from COVID-19 vaccine trials, so there's no data on the vaccines' effectiveness in this vulnerable population.

For the study, 67 patients with hematologic malignancies who had been vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines had their blood tested three weeks after the second shot.

The researchers found that more than 46% of the patients had not made antibodies against the virus.

Moreover, only 3 of the 13 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia made measurable antibodies, even though 70% weren't having any cancer therapy.

"This lack of response was strikingly low," said researcher Dr. Mounzer Agha, a hematologist at UPMC's Hillman Cancer Center. "We're still working to determine why people with hematologic malignancies -- particularly those with CLL -- have a lower antibody response and if this low response also extends to patients with solid tumors."

No link between cancer therapy and antibody levels was found that could affect antibody response to the vaccine. But it's known that older patients are less likely to produce antibodies than younger patients, researchers said.

"It's critically important for these patients to be aware of their continued risk and to seek prompt medical attention if they have COVID-19 symptoms, even after vaccination," Agha added in the release. "They may benefit from outpatient treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, before the illness becomes severe."

The findings, which haven't yet been peer-reviewed, were published online April 9 on the preprint server medRxiv.

More information

For more on COVID-19 vaccines, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, news release, April 9, 2021

Is Your Spin Class Music Way Too Loud?

MONDAY, April 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Turning down the music at your fitness classes won't affect the intensity of your workout, researchers say.

It's common for fitness instructors to crank up the volume -- sometimes to levels loud enough to damage hearing -- because they think it will help students work harder.

But researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found there's no link between music volume and how hard people exercise.

"Participants were most likely to report that the music level was satisfactory in classes where sound levels were lowest," said corresponding author Dr. Ronna Hertzano. She is associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

"Importantly, the gym elected to maintain the music at the softer level after we made them aware of our study results," she said in a university news release.

For the study, Hertzano's team surveyed participants (average age 31) in hour-long spinning classes at a Baltimore gym.

In classes with music that was 2 to 3 decibels lower than the loudest classes -- about a 20% reduction in perceived loudness -- participants reported no differences in their exercise intensity, the study found.

Those in classes with the lowest music volume had a slight drop in workout intensity, but only two participants reported below-average intensity.

More than one in four study participants told researchers they had had auditory symptoms after spinning class, including ringing in their ears or muffled hearing.

In classes with the loudest music, nearly one-third of participants said the volume was excessive, and nearly as many said they would prefer it to be lower.

Only three participants told researchers they used hearing protection such as ear plugs, according to the report published online recently in the journal Noise & Health.

"Our findings make a strong case for reducing music volumes in fitness classes to protect against hearing loss without sacrificing the intensity of the workout," Hertzano said.

It's common for average sound levels in group fitness classes to top 90 decibels (as loud as an approaching subway train) and even to exceed 100 decibels (as loud as a power lawn mower), according to previous research.

An hour-long noise exposure shouldn't top 94 decibels, and exposure to levels of 100 decibels should be limited to 15 minutes to protect against permanent hearing loss, according to the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more on noise-induced hearing loss.

SOURCE: University of Maryland School of Medicine, news release, April 8, 2021

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