A summary of important health news from the past week

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Breakthrough in CDC vaping illness investigation: Vitamin E acetate linked to THC may be to blame

By: Jen Christensen

The CDC recently stated that Vitamin E acetate may be the ingredient that is causing the deaths related to vaping. Vitamin E acetate is an additive that is sometimes used to thicken THC vaping products. While Vitamin E is used in several other products, using it on the skin versus swallowing or inhaling it has different consequences. While the finding is considered to be a breakthrough, several ingredients are still being tested since more than one chemical may be causing the deaths. The investigation is ongoing so the CDC advised that until it is over, people should avoid all vaping products. Additionally, the investigation found that most people who used vaping products obtained them through family or friends, not vaping shops.


Brain scans don’t lie: The minds of girls and boys are equal in math

By Katie Hunt

The journal Science of Learning has published brain imaging research to show that children use the same mechanisms and networks in the brain for math regardless of gender. This research compliments other studies with the same conclusion based on test scores. The study had 104 kids between the ages of 3 and 10 to perform cognitive tests and watch math lessons while being monitored with MRI scans. Despite the results, the researchers were unable to answer why the stereotype of boys being stronger in STEM than girls is so pervasive.


By: Pam Belluck

In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers found a mutation that has protected a women in her late 70s from dementia despite her brain developing a major neurological feature of Alzheimer’s disease. This mutation is extremely rare and seems to prevent the disease by minimizing the binding of a certain sugar compound to an important gene. Scientist want to develop treatments from this to give other individuals the same protective mechanism.


Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly two decades

By: Jen Christensen

By fully sequencing the genome of a 2001 sample of HIV, scientists have discovered a new strain of HIV. For a new strain to be officially declared, there needs to be three documented cases: the first two were recorded in 1983 and 1990 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Scientists say that this new strain is highly rare and unusual, but that it will still respond to antiretroviral therapy. Around the world there are about 36.7 million people living with HIV. Most of these people are infected by the group M subtype, which includes the new strain of the disease.

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