Flu shot does not cover all viruses

Getting a flu shot will only protect against 40 percent of this year’s strains of the flu virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the number of flu cases has remained the same over the last three years, this winter, an unexpected strain of the virus that is resistant to the vaccine has been spreading rapidly. Under more favorable circumstances, the vaccine can prevent 70 to 90 percent of all strains of the virus.

As a result, the World Health Organization has recommended that scientists completely revamp the vaccine for next year’s flu season. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide how to proceed with the U.S. vaccine sometime next week.

Source: CNN

Global warming may reduce deaths

Milder winters due to global warming may reduce the number of cold weather-related deaths, the UK Department of Heath says.

While hotter summers may generally cause about 6000 deaths, the number of heat-related deaths is far lower than those related to cold weather.

However, scientists warn that excess heat caused by global warming could increase the occurrence of other diseases, including skin cancer, breathing difficulties, and food-borne illnesses.

In addition, heavy rain increases the level of bacteria in drinking water and makes water purification techniques less effective.

Source: BBC News

Scientists suggest breath tests

Researchers are working to develop a way to analyze compounds in patients’ breath to test for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.

While the idea of such a device is not new, current models can be unreliable, scientists say.

The new method would identify unique markers of certain diseases, creating a more accurate method to diagnose serious diseases. In addition, the tests would be cheaper and less invasive than current diagnostic methods.

Source: BBC News

Doctors promote medical marijuana

The American College of Physicians has asked the federal government to look beyond the high abuse rate of marijuana, and stop classifying marijuana as a substance with no medical value. They believe that the government should consider its health benefits.

Furthermore, the group asked the government to lighten restrictions on marijuana research and not penalize doctors who prescribe marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana use is legal.

The argument was stated in a 13-page paper written on behalf of the 124,000 members of the ACP, the largest-ever group to make such a request.
While the federal government is resistant to exploring the potential medical uses of marijuana, 12 states have already legalized marijuana use for medical reasons.

Source: The Wall Street Journal