Surgeon General’s Marijuana Warning Omits Crucial Context

Speaking about a recent federal advisory on marijuana, Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, put a new spin on long-standing admonitions about the drug.

“Marijuana has a unique impact on the developing brain. It can prime your brain for addiction to other substances,” Adams said at a Washington, D.C., substance abuse conference held late in August and sponsored by Oxford House, a recovery center network.

This is a reiteration of the old “gateway” argument: the idea that marijuana is frequently an entree to using other, harder drugs. And the surgeon general’s emphasis comes just as many states are loosening restrictions around its medicinal and adult recreational use.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Depression: 35 extra minutes of exercise daily slashes risk

It is common knowledge that exercise is good for physical health, but a new study shows that it can also help curtail episodes of depression, even in those who have an increased genetic risk.

According to the researchers, who are from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the study is the first of its kind.

The paper, which appears in the journal Depression and Anxiety, shows that physical activity can positively affect the risk of depression — even when there is a higher genetic risk.

Lead author Karmel Choi, Ph.D., and her colleagues consulted genomic and electronic health record data from almost 8,000 participants in the Partners Biobank.

Full story at Medical News Today

Targeting one gut bacterium may treat alcoholic liver disease

Precision targeting of bacteria in a different way to antibiotics shows promise as a treatment for alcoholic liver disease, according to new research in mice.

A recent Nature study paper describes how an international team of scientists used bacteriophages, which are viruses that kill bacteria, to eradicate alcoholic liver disease in mice.

They used a particular mixture of phages to selectively eliminate Enterococcus faecalis, a gut bacterium that releases a toxin that kills liver cells.

They found that people with alcoholic liver disease had more E. faecalis in their guts than people without this condition.

Full story at Medical News Today

At Least 2.2 Million U.S. Children Affected by Opioid Crisis: Report

A new report estimates at least 2.2 million children had been affected by the opioid crisis in the United States by 2017.

That number is likely to increase, according to the report by the United Hospital Fund, a health policy nonprofit. Many of the children are living with a parent addicted to opioids or have been removed from their home, according to U.S. News & World Report. The report found 170,000 children had opioid use disorder themselves, or had accidentally ingested opioids.

There could be 4.3 million children affected by the opioid crisis by 2030, at a cost of $400 billion, the report estimated.

Full story at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Specialists call for ‘aggressive’ measures against e-cigarettes

After uncovering a key mechanism that could explain how e-cigarettes harm the lungs, brain, and cardiovascular system, a team of researchers now calls for much stricter regulation of these electronic devices.

Electronic cigarettes — e-cigarettes, for short — were developed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, in an effort to help wean smokers off their harmful habit.

However, evidence has increasingly come to light that the liquid that goes into an e-cigarette and the materials of the devices themselves contain dangerous levels of toxic substances that can harm health.

Full story at Medical News Today