KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Scientists Stumble Upon Potential Vaccine For Gonorrhea At Best Possible Time

In an era where the sexually transmitted disease is becoming increasingly difficult to treat because of antibiotic resistance, researchers find that a vaccine for meningitis may also protect against gonorrhea. In other public health news: cervical cancer, sunscreen, double-booked surgeons, brain training, pigs' knees and more.

Stat: Vaccine Shows Protection Against Gonorrhea For First Time, Study Says
Finally, the world might be catching a break when it comes to drug-resistant gonorrhea. A new study suggests that a vaccine that protects against a strain of meningitis may also ward off the sexually transmitted infection. The research, conducted in New Zealand, found that the gonorrhea rate among teens and young adults there who had received a meningitis B vaccine during an emergency campaign in the early 2000s was significantly lower than the rate seen in people of the same age who weren’t vaccinated. (Branswell, 7/10)

Stat: Fewer Pap Screenings Mean More Cases Of Undiagnosed Chlamydia
When, a handful of years ago, the U.S. and Canada changed their screening guidelines for cervical cancer, it was an acknowledgment that screenings for young women carried unintended harms. However, a new study shows they also carried unintended benefits. As Pap screenings for women under 24 became less frequent in Ontario in 2012-2014, fewer cases of the bacterial infection chlamydia were caught — putting women at risk of potentially serious consequences. (Caruso, 7/10)

Stateline: Why More States Are Getting Serious About Sunscreen
Like ibuprofen or hay fever medication, sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and therefore by almost all schools. That means kids can’t bring it to school without a doctor’s note, and even then must see the school nurse in order to use it. The result: Teachers leading a sunny field trip are free to cover themselves in a thick protective layer of sunscreen. But in most states, children can’t follow suit. In Indianapolis, for instance, kids go back to school July 31 — the height of summer — but they must have a doctor’s note to bring sunscreen to school, and visit the school nurse to put it on. (Moore, 7/11)

The Washington Post: Brain-Training Games Don’t Really Train Brains, A New Study Suggests
The first large study to rigorously examine brain-training games using cognitive tests and brain imaging adds to evidence that they are not particularly good at training brains and appear to have no more effect on healthy brains than video games. The study is another blow to companies such as Lumosity that have been accused of falsely claiming their programs can improve mental performance. (Gallegos, 7/10)

The Washington Post: New Drug Used On Mice Could Hold Potential For Traumatic Brain Injury.
For the first time, scientists have reversed memory and learning deficits in mice following traumatic brain injuries. This new research could someday lead to treatments for head trauma and debilitating cognitive diseases. More than 2 million Americans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are seen in hospital emergency rooms every year. Millions more skip a hospital visit despite suffering a head injury that could cause lasting damage, according to researchers. (Gallegos, 7/10)

Stat: Turning To Pigs' Knees In The Quest To Delay Joint Replacements
Here in this hotspot for unregulated stem cell clinics, you don’t have to drive far to find a doctor offering unproven treatments for a bum knee involving stem cells derived from a patient’s own fat. In his lab here at the University of Southern California, Dr. Denis Evseenko wants to tackle knee problems with stem cells, too — but he’s a world away in his philosophy. He’s taking a stab at something much more ambitious. And he’s doing it by the book. (Robbins, 7/11)

Sacramento Bee: Trying To Eat Less Meat? You’re A Reducetarian
At the Reducetarian Foundation, Kateman and Alterman encourage people to eat less meat and remind people that vegans, vegetarians and reducetarians all share many of the same concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss, animal welfare and human health. It’s far easier, however, to imagine a meatless world once people have been successful at going without meat, Kateman said. (Anderson, 7/10)

Boston Globe: Study Eyes Sugary Beverage Intake During Pregancy
The children of mothers who consumed sugary drinks during their second trimester had a higher weight status than children of mothers who avoided the beverages, according to a study by Massachusetts researchers published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. For each additional serving per day, the child would weigh about half a pound more by age 8. (Feiner, 7/10)

Stat: This Doctor Helped Inspire A Controversial Netflix Movie About Anorexia
At age 78, Dr. Richard MacKenzie is having his Hollywood moment.He’s the physician who helped inspire a controversial Netflix movie about anorexia, “To the Bone,” which begins streaming on Friday. The film was written and directed by one of his former patients, Marti Noxon. She has credited MacKenzie with helping her overcome her struggles with anorexia and bulimia. (Robbins, 7/11)

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