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Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis is part of a frightening global trend

By Dylan Scott, VOX

For the past few weeks, the world has been eager to know about the Princess of Wales, Catherine Middleton, and her disappearance. Our questions were answered with a pre-recorded video announcement entailing Middleton’s recent abdominal surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. While the diagnosis and stage of her cancer were not revealed, Middleton’s current health condition brings awareness to the alarming rate of people under 50 developing cancer. 

In particular, “the early onset of 29 different cancers [has] risen nearly 80% between 1990 and 2019” (BMJ Analysis, 2023). It was also revealed that American adults, specifically women, were more prone to developing early-onset cancers (JAMA Network Open). Among these cancers, breast and colorectal cancers have become increasingly more common— with skin, bladder, kidney, ovarian, prostate, pancreas, thyroid, and uterus cancers on the rise as well (Scott, 2023; BMJ, 2023). 

While this growing rate of cancer in relatively young populations is concerning, the scientific community has not been able to pinpoint a single factor for this rapid increase. Some suggest that the increase in early-onset gastrointestinal cancers could be due to dietary factors, such as “lots of deep-fried and processed foods, foods high in fat, and sugary drinks and desserts”, “having a diet low in fiber”, and “higher alcohol consumption” (Frontiers in Nutrition, 2022). In addition to dietary factors, some “cellular and rodent models have suggested that microplastics could promote tumor growth” (Scott, 2022). The increased use of microplastics in food containers and synthetic clothing could also be a potential compound contributing to cancer development. While these notions are still theories, we must remain cautious of external and internal risk factors that mitigate cancer moving forward.

by Manju Karthikeyan

Following Measles Outbreaks, Officials Grow Wary of Renewed Threat 

By Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times

The CDC announced that there has been a recent surge in measles cases across the United States, notably impacting regions such as Chicago, Washington D.C., and Florida. While measles itself is not typically considered lethal for those vaccinated who have it, measles can still result in hospitalization. Luckily, though, vaccinations are 93% effective at protecting exposed individuals from contracting the disease. 

However, since the emergence of the coronavirus, an increasing number of individuals have been hesitant to receive vaccinations, and the recent spread of measles has been attributed to unvaccinated travelers. Measles is a highly contagious disease, as it can linger in the air and small spaces, such as an airplane, for up to two hours. Statistics show that nine out of ten unvaccinated individuals exposed to measles are susceptible to contracting it.

A challenge with the resurgence of the disease is that because cases have not been observed in the United States since 2000, doctors may not recognize the symptoms, which can lead untreated individuals to contribute to the spread. Thankfully, many health officials are hopeful that this resurgence can come to a quick halt. Dr. Patel, the chief medical officer at the CDC‘s respiratory disease division, confidently claims, “We’re not going to see widespread measles cases going throughout the country. “But we do expect additional cases and outbreaks to happen.”

To manage the spread, the CDC’s current objective is to identify populations with low vaccination rates, train healthcare providers to recognize symptoms of measles, and apply their typical disease prevention and treatment tools.

by Julia Roth

Biden Signs Executive Order to Boost Women’s Health Research

By Summer Concepcion, Fiona Glisson and Caroline Kenny, NBC News

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday, March 18, encompassing over twenty initiatives and commitments from federal agencies to advance women’s health. This comes roughly a month after First Lady Jill Biden announced $100 million in national funding in February, emphasizing a joint commitment to the issue. 

Falling during Women’s History Month, Biden’s well-timed announcement included praises of Vice President Kamala Harris and his Supreme Court pick Ketanji Jackson, in addition to warning viewers to not underestimate the power of women voters. In light of recent threats to reproductive access nationwide, Biden criticized the Republican party’s collective approach to women’s health, emphasizing a promise to reinstate the Supreme Court landmark case, Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a wide range of reproductive health services.

Many of the initiatives in this order seek “to integrate women’s health across the federal research portfolio,” both through entities like Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health and health concerns such as post-menopause disease. Responses to this executive order have highlighted how well-timed it is, considering a recent Alabama Supreme Court decision to restrict embryo transportation as well as the upcoming presidential election.

by Saanvi Nayar

Items summarized by: Manju Karthikeyan, Julia Roth, Saanvi Nayar