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Weekly Health Digest: Once A Month Birth Control Pill, Hair Chemicals Increase Cancer Risk, Vaping, And Sickle Cell

A summary of important health news from the past week

Once-a-month oral contraceptive pill in tests

By: Michelle Roberts

A team of researchers funded by the Gates Foundation have started testing a once a month oral contraceptive pill on pigs. The pill is designed “to resist immediate attack by stomach acid.” It slowly releases pregnancy preventing hormones, remaining in the stomach for weeks. While current birth control pills are effective and millions of women use them, forgetting to take them daily is an issue that can affect the effectiveness of the pill. Thus, a once a month contraceptive pill would allow women more control over their fertility. However, experts believe that while innovative, the idea is still in its early stages and needs further research until it is tested on humans.


Hair Dyes And Straighteners Linked To Higher Cancer Risk, Especially For Black Women

By: Patti Neighmond

Published in the International Journal of Cancer, a new study surveying 46, 709 women 35-74 years old finds that women who use permanent hair dye or chemical straighteners are at a higher risk for breast cancer. The association was much higher among black women in terms of hair dye; white women had a 7% higher risk while black women had a 45% higher risk. The risk was about 30% higher for both black and white women in terms of straighteners. The frequency of using hair chemicals increases the risk as well. The unique aspect of this analysis is that participants came from the Sister Study where they were already at high risk for breast cancer due to a diagnosed sister. Yet, since everyone had the same family history, but only some of them used hair dye and straighteners the study’s sample works. From this study, it is recommended that doctors include dyes and straighteners into the social history questionnaire during patient visits.


No single e-cigarette brand linked to vaping-related lung injuries, CDC says

By: Shelby Lin Erdman

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report stating that vaping-related lung illnesses occurred in people who used a range of products. There are findings relating vitamin E acetate, which is used as a thickener, to these illness. However, CDC officials state that this substance was not present in every illness, meaning there are likely multiple causes. Over 2,000 cases have been reported in the US.


Two New Drugs Help Relieve Sickle-Cell Disease. But Who Will Pay?

By: Gina Kolata

The Food and Drug Administration has approved, for the first time in over a decade, two new treatments for sickle cell disease. Adakveo and Oxbryta are the names of the new drugs that can prevent many of the adverse health issues that come with sickle cell. Each treatment is priced around $100,000 a year and has to be taken daily. There are several questions about the accessibility of these drugs due to its extremely high price.