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Health News

  • This story has been updated. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the causes of cancer-causing impurities in multiple blood pressure and heart medications, according to a new report from USA Today. » RELATED: FDA expands recall of heart, blood pressure medication due to cancer risk Factory inspections of facilities in China and India in recent months have revealed a pattern of issues regarding drugs valsartan, losartan and irbesartan, either alone or in combination with other drugs. The most recent recall involves eight lots of irbesartan manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. “I think we have a federal agency that is overwhelmed in trying to keep up,” Public Citizen researcher and director Michael Carome told USA Today, noting the FDA often prioritizes inspections based on potential risk. » RELATED: Silent Killer: 5 reasons to take a second look at your blood pressure The agency has been examining “a backlog of unchecked foreign drug plants” amid the increasing overseas pharmaceutical industry actors, including China’s Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical and India’s Hetero Labs, both of which have been forced to recall carcinogen-tainted drugs. But exacerbated inspection policies, investigations or recalls don’t guarantee prevention or action from drug companies to correct the problems. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told USA TODAY the agency isn’t running those manufacturing plants. “Really, a lot of responsibility is on the people who manufacture and offer these drugs for sale,” she added. » RELATED: This common blood pressure medication linked to greater lung cancer risk, study says More at USAToday.com. Previously: India-based drug company Torrent Pharmaceuticals last week recalled an additional eight lots of losartan potassium tablets in addition to the two it recalled in December. The FDA shared a notice announcing the the blood pressure and diabetic kidney disease medication contained unacceptable levels of the human carcinogen N-nitrosodiethylamine. India’s Hetero Labs has had to recall several commonly prescribed blood pressure drugs since July, including versions of losartan, valsartan and irbesartan. Find a full list of recall-related FDA updates at fda.gov. Losartan potassium hydrochlorothiazide (Losartan) was also recalled by Sandoz Inc. in November over cancer concerns due to an impurity impurity N-nitrosodiethylamine, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. » RELATED: Is your medical provider taking your blood pressure all wrong? Experts say probably “This impurity, which is a substance that occurs naturally in certain foods, drinking water, air pollution, and industrial processes, has been classified as a probable human carcinogen as per International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),” agency officials wrote in the Nov. 8 news release. The Sandoz Inc. recall involved 100 milligram/25 milligram Losartan tablets with the lot number JB8912 and expiration date of June 2020. The affected product was not distributed prior to Oct. 8, 2018, according to the FDA. The agency recently recalled two other blood pressure drugs for the impurity, irbesartan and valsartan. Those who take these hypertension medications should consult with a doctor or pharmacist before discontinuing use of the drug. » RELATED: Half of US adults now have high blood pressure, based on new guidelines The American Heart Association in January announced new guidelines that lowered the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million U.S. adults to the bucket of those with a condition that now affects nearly half of the American adult population. For decades, high blood pressure was determined with a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90. According to the new guidelines, a reading of 130/80 is considered high blood pressure, a change that adds 30 million U.S. adults to the bucket of those with the condition. Read the full FDA announcement at FDA.gov.
  • When it comes to their views on climate change, Americans are looking at natural disasters and their local weather, according to a new poll. Lately, that means record deadly wildfires in California, rainfall by the foot in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit and the dome of smog over Salt Lake City that engineer Caleb Gregg steps into when he walks out his door in winter. 'I look at it every day,' Gregg said from Salt Lake City, where winter days with some of the country's worst air starting a few years ago dinged the city's reputation as a pristine sports city and spurred state leaders to ramp up clean-air initiatives. 'You look out and see pollution just sitting over the valley.' 'I've never really doubted climate change - in the last five-ish years it's become even more evident, just by seeing the weather,' the 25-year-old said. 'We know we're polluting, and we know pollution is having an effect on the environment.' The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago finds 74 percent of Americans say extreme weather in the past five years — hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves — has influenced their opinions about climate change. That includes half of Americans who say these recent events have influenced their thinking a great deal or a lot. About as many, 71 percent, said the weather they experience daily in their own areas has influenced their thinking about climate change science. The survey was conducted in November, a few days before the federal government released a major report revving up scientific warnings about the impact of climate change, including the growing toll of extreme storms and droughts. The share of Americans who said they think the climate is changing has held roughly steady over the last year — about 7 in 10 Americans think climate change is happening. Among those, 60 percent say climate change is caused mostly or entirely by humans, and another 28 percent think it's about an equal mix of human activities and natural changes. Overall, 9 percent of Americans said climate change is not happening, and another 19 percent said they were not sure. The poll finds Americans' personal observations of real-time natural disasters and the weather around them have more impact than news stories or statements by religious or political leaders. 'It speaks to what we know of what people trust. They trust themselves and their own experiences,' said Heidi Roop, a climate scientist at the University of Washington's Climate Impact Group who focuses on the science of climate change communication. For a long time, the idea that the acrid black billows from car and truck tailpipes and power plant smokestacks were altering the Earth's atmosphere still seemed abstract, with any impacts decades away. 'With the extreme events that we've been seeing, we're increasingly able to attribute, or pull out, how human-caused climate change is making those more severe,' Roop said. When wildfires get bigger and more frequent, floods bigger and smog more entrenched, it begins to hit 'the things that we all hold dear, and that's when people get affected and begin to connect the dots,' Roop said. But a minority of Americans still connect to different dots: While the poll finds most of those who believe in climate change say it's caused by human activity or an equal mix of human activity and natural causes, roughly 1 in 10 attribute climate change to natural changes in the environment. In West Haven, Connecticut, 69-year-old Alan Perkins says he can see the climate is in fact changing — the Atlantic beaches a few blocks from his house are about a third smaller than when he used to play on the sand as a kid, Perkins said by phone. Scientists say climate change will mean warming oceans expand and waves get rougher, eating away at shorelines. 'I see erosion along our shorelines. Our beaches are getting smaller. I see that,' Perkins said. 'I'm just not sure exactly how much we can do about that. I think nature takes care of a lot of it. Like when it rains it cleans the air. I think nature kind of takes care of itself,' Perkins said. 'A lot of it is just in God's hands, and he's in control.' Elizabeth Renz, a 62-year-old homemaker in Cincinnati, says the rise in temperatures globally and the surge in natural disasters in the United States is 'just happening naturally.' 'Our Earth is cycling through it, and I don't know there's much we can do about it,' she said. She points to communities expanding into deserts and other unwelcoming terrain. 'We're living in areas that we shouldn't be living in,' she said. The poll shows that Americans are ready to pay more to deal with the changing climate — but not to pay very much. A majority of Americans, 57 percent, would support a proposal that would add a $1 monthly fee to their electricity bills to combat climate change. But most oppose proposals that would increase their own monthly costs by $10 or more. The poll also examined views on one of the Trump administration's proposals to roll back future mileage standards for cars and light trucks. That would hit one of the Obama administration's key efforts to reduce climate-changing fossil fuel emissions. When told the proposal to freeze standards could lower the cost of vehicles — the Trump administration's argument for the rollback — 49 percent said they support the proposal, compared with 17 percent who were opposed. Another third said they neither support nor oppose. But when the question suggested the freeze could mean greenhouse gas emissions would not be reduced, 45 percent said they oppose the proposal, compared with 21 percent who were in favor. The poll also found majorities of Americans would support a tax on emissions of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil, if the money generated were used to fund research and development for renewable energy (59 percent), to restore forests and wetlands (67 percent) or to boost public transportation (54 percent). For Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the willingness of Americans to pay at least some extra money to tackle climate change is 'actually still a pretty strong signal.' When climate change becomes 'a problem in general but also specifically their problem, then people are going to have more ownership of it,' Swain said. ___ The AP-NORC poll of 1,202 adults was conducted Nov. 14-19 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The survey was paid for by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone. ___ Online: AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org
  • Global health officials say they have identified two cases of polio in Mozambique caused by a mutated virus in the vaccine, marking another setback for attempts to eradicate the crippling disease. In a report this week, the World Health Organization and partners said they had confirmed two polio cases in a 6-year-old girl and one of her contacts. Officials said isolates tested found they were infected by a virus derived from the vaccine. In rare cases, the virus in the oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of causing new outbreaks. Officials have missed repeated deadlines to wipe out polio and are facing numerous challenges in the remaining countries where the disease circulates. Last year there were dozens of cases elsewhere in Africa including Nigeria, Congo and Somalia.
  • Chinese authorities appear to have confirmed a scientist's unpublished claim that he helped make the world's first gene-edited babies and that a second pregnancy is underway, and say he could face consequences for his work. China's official Xinhua News Agency said Monday that investigators in Guangdong province determined that the scientist, He Jiankui (HUH JEEN-qway), evaded supervision of his work and violated research norms because he wanted to be famous. The report said He acted alone and will be punished for any violations of the law, although it didn't say which regulations he may have broken. The scientist stunned the world in November by claiming that he had altered the DNA of twin girls at conception to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. He's work has been widely criticized as unethical because of questions about whether the participants truly understood the risks. It is also considered medically dangerous because of possible harm to other genes and the DNA changes can be passed to future generations. There has been no independent verification of his claim, first reported by The Associated Press, and it has not yet been published, although He gave details at an international gene editing conference in Hong Kong. Some have even speculated that it could be a hoax. But the Chinese investigation appears to confirm it. The Xinhua report says the twins and those involved in the second pregnancy will remain under medical observation with regular visits supervised by government health departments. 'It does sound like they have confirmed the existence of the babies,' said Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a genetics journal editor from the University of Pennsylvania who reviewed materials He provided at the AP's request. Given that the Chinese investigation alleged ethical lapses, He's work might not be published by a scientific journal, but 'the information needs to be made available so we know exactly what was done,' Musunuru said. 'It could be as simple as putting it on the web.' The scientist, He, could not be reached for comment. A media relations person who had been acting as He's spokesman declined comment. It's unclear how many edited embryos remain from He's experiment and what will become of them. He's school, Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, and the Chinese ministries of health and science also have said they are investigating and have put a halt to his work. Gene editing for reproductive purposes is effectively banned in the U.S. and most of Europe. In China, ministerial guidelines prohibit embryo research that 'violates ethical or moral principles.' 'This behavior seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations and creates a pernicious influence at home and abroad,' the report of the Guangdong province's investigation said. The statement shows that 'scientific leadership is taking this situation seriously,' said Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin bioethicist and one of the leaders of the Hong Kong conference. It's hard to interpret without knowing who was involved in the investigation and what they did, but it 'does indicate that there is a system of regulatory controls in China that can be brought to bear on any effort to prematurely use this technology,' which may be a better way to regulate it than an outright ban, she said. Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut said he has spoken regularly with He since the Hong Kong conference, most recently last week. Hurlbut, who said he disapproves of what He did, met with him often over the last two years to discuss gene editing and when it might be appropriate. A week or so after the news broke of He's work, 'he was calm, he was thoughtful,' and 'was thinking about what he should have done differently,' Hurlbut said. Hurlbut said He 'told me that he's OK, that he is being treated respectfully. He spent long hours talking with people during the investigation ... They asked him to voluntarily give his material to them and he did.' There are plain-clothes guards at the university apartment where He is living, because 'He and the authorities believed it was a good idea' to shield him from media and others trying to contact him, not because he's being treated like a prisoner, Hurlbut said. ___ Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • Chinese investigators have determined that the doctor behind the reported birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of the law, a state media report said Monday. Investigators in the southern province of Guangdong determined Dr. He Jiankui organized and handled funding for the experiment without outside assistance in violation of national guidelines, the Xinhua News Agency said. Along with the birth of the twins, another embryo yet to be born reportedly resulted from He's experiment. All three will remain under medical observation with regular visits supervised by government health departments, Xinhua said. It didn't say which laws He might have violated but said he had fabricated an ethical review by others. 'This behavior seriously violates ethics and the integrity of scientific research, is in serious violation of relevant national regulations and creates a pernicious influence at home and abroad,' the report said. Then little-known, He attended an elite meeting in Berkeley, California, in 2017 where scientists and ethicists were discussing a technology that had shaken the field to its core — an emerging tool for 'editing' genes, the strings of DNA that form the blueprint of life. He embraced the tool, called CRISPR, and last year rocked an international conference with the claim that he had helped make the world's first gene-edited babies , despite a clear scientific consensus that making genetic changes that could be passed to future generations should not be attempted at this point. China called an immediate halt to He's experiments following his announcement. Gene editing for reproductive purposes is effectively banned in the U.S. and most of Europe. In China, ministerial guidelines prohibit embryo research that 'violates ethical or moral principles.' The chief of the World Health Organization said last year his agency is assembling experts to consider the health impact of gene editing. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said gene editing 'cannot be just done without clear guidelines' and experts should 'start from a clean sheet and check everything.' 'We have a big part of our population who say, 'Don't touch,'' Tedros told reporters. 'We have to be very, very careful, and the working group will do that.
  • Astronomy buffs got a special treat Sunday as a combined lunar eclipse, blood moon and supermoon added a red glow to the night sky. >> PHOTOS: Super wolf blood moon lunar eclipse delights skygazers >> Super wolf blood moon: A viewing guide for the coolest sounding lunar eclipse Social media users are sharing their snapshots with the hashtag #SuperBloodWolfMoon. Here are some of our favorites: >> Read more trending news  1. San Juan Mountains, Colorado Photo by @PatrickDillons, Twitter 2. New York City Photo by @maximusupinnyc, Instagram 3. Austin, Texas Photo by @zandi_photography, Instagram 4. Toronto Photos by @TorSunphoto21, Twitter 5. Walland, Tennessee Photo by @OneLanePhoto, Twitter 6. Colorado Photo by @jason_odell, Twitter 7. Birds Hill Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada Photo by @ryanlucenkiw, Instagram 8. Olin, Iowa Photos by @BillWeirCNN, Twitter 9. Martinez, California Photo by @jcfphotog, Twitter 10. New York City Photo by @guygabriel57, Instagram

Health Reporter Sabrina Cupit

  • A major flu outbreak in the city last year had Grady bringing in a mobile hospital, it's back again this year. Thursday morning at 7 am the MED-1 mobile hospital will open and start seeing patients with flu. Dr. Hany Atallah, chief of Emergency Medicine at Grady Hospital says, “it really helps us get to our patients more quickly.' The unit is in the hospital parking lot. It will be there for at least a month, longer if needed.
  • Georgia Tech researchers have created a low-cost contraceptive patch for women that just takes seconds to use and offers protection for a month.'Our objective was to have something that can be long acting but also something that could be self-administered by a woman herself,' says Mark Prausnitz, professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
  • The partial government shutdown could make those relentless robo-calls even worse! Federal agencies are closed, and federal regulators aren’t around to administer the nation's anti robo-call rules.  The FTC and FCC, two agencies that help prevent unwanted phone calls, are shut down while Congress debates funding for the proposed border wall. The complaint portal for each website is also down, including the federal government’s “do not call list' application. Some scam artists already appear to be trying to target Americans about the shutdown itself. WSB Consumer expert Clark says, 'right now robo-callers rotate to whatever seems to be the hot sector to take advantage of you and they're going to look for every possible angle involving the IRS and any federal related activity to try and con you.'  Beware of emails, claiming to be from a government office. They tell intended victims that their federal benefit direct deposits will be cut off unless they verify their bank information.  The person is instructed to click on a link to a site that downloads malware. Scam artists are also calling people with this same scam, even threatening if they don't give them the information they want, you could lose your Medicare benefits.   Howard says, 'don't fall for any of that, don't respond to any robo-call, in fact don't answer your phone if you don't recognize the number.' 

News

  • Producers of the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show are looking for people to participate in the halftime show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3. About 450 people are needed to be part of the “Field Team” that will help move the halftime show stages and scenic elements on and off the field. Channel 2 Action News Sports Director Zach Klein talked with officials on Tuesday who said they're still looking for more 'Field Team' members. Maroon 5, Big Boi and Travis Scott are headlining the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show. Our LIVE Team 2 Coverage of Super Bowl LIII continues on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. We're getting a behind-the-scenes look at the Super Bowl Experience + talking with cyber security experts working to keep you and the city safe. “Field Team” members must be able to attend all scheduled rehearsals, be over the age of 18 and be in good physical health. No prior experience is required. Anyone interested in applying can view the rehearsal schedule HERE. If it fits your schedule, CLICK HERE to apply for a position. NOTE: “Field Team” members will not receive tickets or the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl. However, they will be an integral part of the halftime show.
  • A man identified by authorities Tuesday as the suspect in the fatal shooting of a teenager at a suburban Chicago mall was previously convicted of armed robbery and had been an acquaintance of the victim. Orland Park Police identified the suspect as 19-year-old parolee Jakharr Williams of University Park. The department said in a news release that Williams, who fled after the shooting and has not been arrested, should be considered armed and dangerous. Police said Williams and 18-year-old Javon Britten of Richton Park were arguing in a food court at Orland Square Mall Monday when Williams allegedly pulled out a handgun and fired several shots. Britten was struck and a bystander's leg was grazed by a bullet. Police said Britten staggered to a nearby clothing store, where he collapsed. He was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn a short time later. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections website and Orland Park Police, Williams was convicted of armed robbery in 2017, and that he served a little more than a year in prison before he was released in June last year. Orland Park is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.
  • In the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, two New Orleans Saints season ticket holders have asked a judge to reverse the result of the NFC championship game that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl — or order a do-over. Tuesday's state court filing says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should implement a league rule governing 'extraordinarily unfair acts.' Remedies include reversal of a game's result or the rescheduling of a game — in its entirety or from the point when the act occurred. At issue is the failure of officials to call interference or roughness penalties when a Rams player leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in Sunday's game. The NFL hasn't yet responded. A hearing is scheduled Monday.
  • A man is under arrest in Utah after police say he posted on Facebook about 'killing as many girls as I see' the same weekend that Women's Marches were held around the U.S. Christopher W. Cleary, 27, wrote he wanted to be 'the next mass shooter,' because he had never had a girlfriend and he was still a virgin, according to jail documents filed by police in the city of Provo. He wanted to 'make it right' with women who had turned him down and also said 'there's nothing more dangerous than a man ready to die,' the documents said. Cleary is from Denver and Colorado police on Saturday contacted officers in Provo, south of Salt Lake City, where Cleary had checked into an AirBnB rental a day earlier. With help from the FBI, officers tracked Cleary to a restaurant and arrested him on suspicion of a felony threat of terrorism charge. The posts did not mention the marches but investigators were concerned because they were happening that day in Provo and Salt Lake City, along with dozens of other cities, the documents said. Cleary acknowledged making the posts, but said he deleted them after receiving threats in response, police said. He told investigators he had an impulse-control disorder and was suicidal. Colorado authorities said Cleary is on probation after stalking and threatening women there, according to Utah police documents. He was being held without bail in Utah, and authorities were expected to seek his extradition to Colorado. No attorney or publicly listed phone number was immediately available for Cleary.
  • Country singer John Berry revealed he is battling tonsil cancer, Billboard reported Tuesday. Berry, 59, announced the cancer in a video he recorded with his wife, Robin Berry, and posted to his Facebook page.  “We started off this year with a hiccup, and we want to tell you a little bit about that,” John Berry said in the video.  It is not the first time Berry has experienced a medical scare. On the day his song “Your Love Amazes Me” hit No. 1 in 1994, Berry had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, Billboard reported. Berry said he became aware of his latest health issue in November before his latest tour, the magazine reported.“I had a little catch in my throat, it felt like, it felt exactly like, the skin of a Spanish peanut was stuck in my throat,” Berry said in the video.  After examining his tonsils Berry noticed they were swollen. Despite going to a doctor and receiving steroids and antibiotics, the problem persisted, Berry said. He completed his tour and then saw a doctor Jan. 4, Rolling Stone reported. A CT scan revealed two tumors in his tonsils, so he had surgery to remove them, the magazine reported. After receiving biopsy results, doctors told Berry he had tonsil cancer. Berry will begin a five-week chemotherapy and radiation treatment plan this week, Rolling Stone reported. “This particular cancer is one of the most highly treatable, and has an incredible cure rate,” Berry said in his video. According to his website, Berry had 20 singles on the country charts during the 1990s, six of which were Top 5 songs. He won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his participation in “Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel, Vol. 1.”
  • Atlanta police are investigating a sexual assault at Opera nightclub after video of the incident was posted on Facebook.  >> Read more trending news Officer Jarius Daugherty said the Atlanta Police Department began receiving calls from people who had seen the assault on a Facebook Live video early Sunday morning. The police department has opened an investigation into the incident at the club on Crescent Avenue in Midtown. The video “appears to show a woman being sexually assaulted in a local nightclub,” Daugherty told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Police have not released details on the alleged assault, but the woman filed a police report on the crime. It is the policy of the AJC to not name victims of sexual crimes. According to WSB-TV, the victim was celebrating her birthday Saturday at the popular Midtown nightclub when she was sexually assaulted. The woman told police someone put drugs in her drink and then sexually assaulted her on the dance floor, WSB-TV reported. The victim, who was already streaming her celebration on Facebook Live, captured the attack as it happened and continued to stream the video. According to media reports, the woman is heard in the video screaming for help. Video of the sexual assault has since been removed from Facebook. The woman later posted a video saying she is OK, WSB-TV reported.  In a statement posted to Facebook and Twitter, Opera nightclub managers said they are cooperating with the investigation.  “At this time we have met with the Atlanta Police Department and have provided them with everything they have requested,” read the statement posted Sunday. “We will continue to aid and support their investigation in any way we can.”