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Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

>> Read more trending news

A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Suicide rate for teen girls hits 40-year record high -- is social media to blame?

According to new data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

» RELATED: Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in boyfriend's suicide, accused of convincing him to commit suicide via text messages 

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, 5 died by suicide.

Additionally, the suicide rate among teen boys in the same age group and year range rose by more than 30 percent.

>> Read more trending news

The analysis mirrors a rising national trend in suicide rates across all age groups, CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN.

» RELATED: Read the full CDC report

So, what’s going on?

Experts such as Simon and Carl Tishler, adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University, said there are a lot of possible factors.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

Some factors include substance abuse, relationship conflicts, lack of emotional support, the stigma associated with mental health, exposure to violence and economic instability.

Tishler specifically cited the rise of the opioid epidemic as a possible factor.

“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more internet suicides,” Tishler told CNN.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

What about social media?

While some public health studies have shown negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health and well-being, Simon said social media isn’t always negative.

“Social media can help increase connections between people, and it's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials,” he told CNN.

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

Still, he acknowledges that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

Additionally, cyberbullying in social media may negatively influence teenage girls more than boys, according to Emory University School of Medicine professor Dorian Lamis.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

“Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate,” Lamis told CNN.

Lamis said the hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teen girls “vulnerable to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life.”

“The message for parents, teachers, coaches and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned,” Simon said.

Read more from CNN.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, or if you are concerned for someone else, here are some helpful resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Online chat

Suicide prevention resources for parents, guardians and families

Suicide prevention resources for teens

Suicide prevention resources for survivors of suicide loss

More resources and programs at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

If you want to help put an end to your depression, a new report from the American Psychological Association suggests giving hot yoga a try. 

>> Read more trending news

“Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing,” Lindsey Hopkins, one of the analysts, said in a statement. “But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health.” 

That’s why the scientists from the APA conducted a study to determine how the practice could combat symptoms of depression including anxiety, stress, rumination and worry.

To do so, they led several different studies. In the first one, they rounded up 23 male veterans to participate in twice-weekly yoga classes for eight weeks. The subjects gave the exercise an average enjoyment ranking of 9.4 out of 10, and those with elevated depression scores had a significant decrease in depression symptoms.

» RELATED: Need to relieve stress? Try talking to yourself

For the second one, scientists gathered 52 women ages 25 to 45 and asked more than half of them to attend twice-weekly hot yoga classes for eight weeks. The others were placed on a wait list. At the end of the experiment, those who tried yoga saw a reduction in their depression symptoms compared to those in the control group. 

And in another, they examined 74 mildly depressed university students, giving them a 15-minute instructional video to follow at home for two months. They found that their symptoms had also subsided significantly.

Researchers noted that the practice isn’t a cure-all but should be a complimentary practice to traditional forms of therapy. 

“However,” Hopkins said, “based on empirical evidence, there seems to be a lot of potential.”

CDC: Over 100 people sickened in deadly salmonella outbreak involving Maradol papayas

In an update from officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday, the number of people sickened in the salmonella outbreak involving Maradol papayas has grown.

A total of 109 people from 16 states have been infected in the salmonella outbreak as of Aug. 3, the CDC said in a news release.The states involved are CT, DE, IA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OK, PA, TX, VA, and WI.

>> Read more trending news

One death has been reported, and 35 people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

An additional strain of salmonella tied to Maradol papayas imported from Mexico has also been discovered, the CDC reported.

The FDA has found salmonella strains in other papayas from Carica de Campeche farm, which expands the original recall notice that urged consumers to avoid Caribeña brand Maradol papayas, distributed by Grande Produce.

The CDC and FDA are continuing their investigation to determine where in the supply chain the papayas became contaminated.

'Narcan parties:' Drug users overdosing to be brought back to life

North Carolina emergency workers in Rowan County expressed frustration Thursday over "Narcan parties," which they said are increasing in the area.

>> Read more trending news

Emergency workers said they've noticed the spike over the past six months, WSOC-TV reported.

"With Narcan readily available and over the counter now, they are having group gatherings called Narcan parties,” said Chris Richardson, Emergency Management Services battalion chief for Rowan County. “They will have numerous people around.” 

He said party-goers get high in houses or cars in public places, then an emergency responder with Narcan will try to revive them, giving the drug user a rush. 

He said a few weeks ago that a couple overdosed on heroin at a shopping center, knowing an ambulance with Narcan was just a call away.

"(They) picked up the drug, didn't want to wait to get to their residence, both wanted to use, they did it in a public place so they would be found," Richardson said. 

The numbers of overdoses are staggering. 

There were 292 calls in 2016 in Rowan County when Narcan was administered. 

This year, through June, they've already had 284 calls for a 94 percent increase. 

The opioid epidemic is staggering in parts of Ohio, too, where officials are saying citizens are taking advantage of emergency services. 

>> Related: Stop sending EMS to respond to overdose calls, Ohio councilman says

>> Related: Ohio factory owner: I need sober workers

Study suggests blowing out birthday cake candles could be health risk

The next time you blow out the candles on a birthday cake, you may want to wish for a strong immune system.

A study published in the Journal of Food Research found that blowing out birthday cake candles left behind 1400 percent more bacteria on the cake's frosting than if candles were not blown out on the cake.

>> Read more trending news

The study suggests that those with health concerns may want to take safety measures when engaging in the birthday cake tradition.

Read the complete study at Journal of Food Research.

Mystery bug bite leaves Arizona man's arm covered in bruises

A routine chore left an Arizona man with a bug bite that caused a severe reaction.

Thomas Jay was taking out the trash earlier this month when he felt something pinch his arm, KPNX reported. A small puncture wound appeared.

>> Read more trending stories

Over the course of a few days, Jay's reaction to the bite spread and became more severe, covering his arm in large, painful bruises. Doctors have not been able to determine what kind of bug bit Jay, and are awaiting biopsy results for further clues.

The Jays did some internet sleuthing and believe the bite may have come from a solpugid (camel spider) or a brown recluse spider.

While Jay is recovering from the mystery bug bite, he continues to experience side effects, including pain, itching and loss of arm strength, KPNX reported. 

CDC: Deadly salmonella outbreak linked to Maradol papayas

Dozens of people have been sickened and at least one person has died in a salmonella outbreak linked to a specific variety of papayas, the Centers for Disease Control said.

A total of 47 people in 12 states have been diagnosed with salmonella infections believed to have been caused by yellow Maradol papayas, the CDC said in a news release.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is investigating the outbreak and in a Tuesday recall notice, urged consumers to avoid all Caribeña brand Maradol papayas. Grande Produce initiated a limited recall of their Caribeña brand Maradol papayas distributed nationwide from July 7 - July 18, 2017, according to the recall notice.

The FDA said there are reported illnesses in states where Grande Produce did not distribute papayas, so the investigation is ongoing. 

>> Read more trending news 

At least a dozen people have been hospitalized and one death has been reported, according to the CDC. Illnesses were first reported in mid-May and ended in late June, but the CDC said any illness reports filed after June 23 may not be captured in the current data.

The CDC urges all consumers, restaurants and other businesses to refrain from serving and eating yellow Maradol papayas at this time. The yellow Maradol papaya is described by the CDC as "a large, oval fruit that weighs 3 or more pounds, with green skins that turn yellow when the fruit is ripe. The flesh inside the fruit is salmon-colored."

Other forms and brands of papaya are not part of the recall at this time.

Father’s tattoo pays tribute to last time he held young son’s hand

Anthony DeNicola does everything he can to keep the memory of his son, Joseph, alive. 

The 7-year-old died Nov. 4, 2014, just days after going into anaphylactic shock on Halloween. DeNicola, of Staten Island, has created a nonprofit, Joseph’s Helping Hand, to raise awareness of severe food allergies, from which Joseph suffered all his life. 

He also has a tattoo on his arm that commemorates the last time he held his son’s hand. The poignant moment took place as doctors prepared to wheel Joseph into surgery to harvest his organs after the boy was declared brain dead. 

“I’m very proud of it,” DeNicola told the Staten Island Advance about his tattoo. “I look in the mirror every day, and I’m still holding my son’s hand.” 

According to Joseph’s story on the Helping Hands website, he began having problems with allergies almost immediately after his March 2007 birth. Eventually, he was diagnosed with severe allergies to milk, milk proteins, whey and hazelnuts. 

“This is where it all started,” his father wrote on the website. “We had to read the ingredients in everything we bought.”

When Joseph outgrew baby formula, he had to drink soy milk. His family also grew accustomed to carrying around an Epi-Pen and Benadryl wherever they went. 

Even smelling food that contained an ingredient he was allergic to could send Joseph into anaphylaxis, his father wrote. 

On his final Halloween, Joseph went trick-or-treating with family and friends. At a party later that night, his cousins had regular pizza in one room and Joseph had a specially-made pizza in a separate room.

Despite all the precautions, Joseph, whose asthma had been acting up that week, required a breathing treatment with his nebulizer when he got home, his father said. As his breathing worsened, two Epi-Pens failed to bring him out of the reaction, so his father and a neighbor rushed him to the hospital.

“At 5 o’clock, we were trick-or-treating, and at 7 o’clock, we were in the emergency room,” DeNicola told the Staten Island Advance shortly after Joseph’s death

Joseph suffered cardiac arrest in the emergency room, his father said. His brain was deprived of oxygen for 20 to 30 minutes and, four days later, he was declared brain dead. 

>> Read more trending news

Joseph’s doctors said his cause of death was a “one-two punch of asthma and allergies together,” DeNicola told the Advance in 2014. Though no one saw Joseph eat anything he shouldn’t the night he got sick, DeNicola said the smell of the wrong food or someone failing to wash their hands around the little boy could have triggered his fatal allergic reaction. 

After his death, his donated organs saved the lives of five other people, his website said

“Joseph was always a giving little boy,” his father wrote. “If there was a line for something, Joseph would let everyone go first and he would wait quietly for his turn. He never complained.”

The DeNicola family said that donating Joseph’s organs was one of the best things they ever did. 

“It gave us peace and comfort to know that Joseph lives on through all of the people he saved,” the website said. “In life, he was always giving. He will continue to give through his foundation, through education and research on allergies and asthma.”

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