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Weekly Health Digest: Fluoride Standards, E. Coli, Walgreens Health, And More

A summary of important health news from the past week.

FDA proposes new fluoride standard for bottled water, but some say it’s still too high

By: Susan Scutti

The FDA is considering lowering the standard for fluoride levels in bottled water. If the proposal is finalized, the acceptable level of fluoride will be 0.7 milligrams per liter, slightly lower than the current range of 0.8 – 1.7 mg/liter range. 0.7 mg/liter is the optimal concentration for balancing the benefits and risks of fluoride, as recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The regulation would only apply to bottled water with added fluoride, not “bottled water that may contain fluoride from source water.” However, many still believe that the proposed standard is high and could have detrimental health effects including brain damage. Increasingly, there is a growing body of evidence linking fluoride to neurotoxicity and brain development.

Mystery E. coli outbreak sickens 72 people in 5 states, CDC says

By: Susan Scutti

The CDC has reported an outbreak of E. coli that has affected 72 people across 5 states, the cause of which is yet to be determined. Since March 2nd, 8 people have been hospitalized, implicating patients between the ages of 1 and 74. The E. coli bacteria may be found in the environment, food, as well as the intestines of humans and animals. Though most strains are harmless, improper hygiene practices and unsanitary produce can lead to an easily transmissible bacterial infection. To avoid contamination, the CDC encourages proper personal hygiene, cooking meat at the correct temperatures, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products, and refraining from swallowing water when swimming.

Why Walgreens will invest $300 million in ecommerce and digital healthcare

By: Mark Brohan

Walgreen Boots Alliance Inc., commonly known as just Walgreens, sees a future in using e-commerce and digital healthcare to upgrade to virtual healthcare malls. Walgreens’ second quarter earnings for fiscal 2019 have been the worst since merging with British retail drug company Boots in December 2014. So, the corporation will cut its annual operating expenses annually at the same time that they invest in partnerships and capabilities for digitalization of the company. Hopefully, the investment will lead to enhanced customer experiences and mechanism to increase customer loyalty across the 55 million downloaded apps and 85 million active Balance Rewards members.

Growing Up Poor Not Only Affects Your Health, It Changes as Many as 1 in 13 Genes

By: Mike McRae

Recent research involving genome wide analysis of almost 500 people shows poverty can impact one’s health at the genetic level. These impacts occur via a process known as epigentics, which are chemical changes that occur to our DNA after birth that can turns a gene on or off. In this study, researchers found that over 1,500 genes are impacted by growing up in poverty; this is about 8% of our genes. More research is needed to figure out exactly how these genetic changes impact health.

FDA Investigates Reports of Seizures After Vaping

By: Michael Nedelman

The FDA is currently investigating a potential connection between vaping and seizures after identifying 35 cases, primarily among younger individuals, between 2010 and early 2019. Seizures are known to be a possible side effect of nicotine poisoning, but there is no clear pattern to their occurrence. For example, some of the reported cases involved individuals who were vaping for the first time, while others involved those who had been using such products frequently. While Juul Labs, the leading e-cigarette company, maintains that the its products are intended to help adult smokers lead a healthier life, the FDA revealed that vaping rates have increased 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since last year.