A look at health stories you may have missed

Hello, health and wellness readers. My name is Kaitlin, your guide to the latest health news you may have missed.

First, let’s take a look at what our team wrote this week:

Here are more stories you should know.

💊 FDA approves new Alzheimer’s drug

The Food and Drug Administration has just approved pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab, after a clinical trial showed the drug slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s by about 35 percent after 18 months. It will be sold under the brand name Kisunla.

The drug, which is approved for adults with mild cognitive impairment, is a monoclonal antibody infusion given every four weeks. It works by targeting amyloid, a protein found in our bodies that can turn into plaques in the brain when they clump and stick together.

The news comes more than two weeks after FDA advisers reported backing the drug as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia. There were initial concerns about the design of trials that would demonstrate the drug’s benefits.

What it means: The approval of Eli Lilly’s drug gives people with Alzheimer’s more time — often crucial when it comes to making decisions about health and care. It’s not the only drug on the market: Last summer, the FDA also approved Leqembi, from Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, based on evidence that it slows the progression of the disease.

Medicare will likely cover Kisunla, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last year agreed to pay for new Alzheimer’s drugs as long as they receive full FDA approval. This will make the latest treatment options more accessible to more people — a win for those living with the neurological disorder.

💉 There is more (complicated) news about weight loss drugs

Can Weight Loss Drugs Lower Your Cancer Risk? New research found that people with type 2 diabetes who took GLP-1 drugs, such as semaglutide, the ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, reduced their risk of 10 common obesity-associated cancers, including gallbladder and pancreatic cancer.

At the same time, an association was found between semaglutide and a rare eye condition that can cause blindness, namely Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION).

What it means: Because so many people use GLP-1 drugs (a recent poll found that 1 in 8 adults have used GLP-1 drugs at some point in their lives), it makes sense that more research is being done on the potential benefits (and potential harms) of these drugs.

The researchers who looked at GLP-1 drugs said that long-term studies are needed to confirm whether the drugs can directly prevent obesity-related cancers. While GLP-1 drugs reduced the risk of cancer compared with insulin alone, they did not show a significant reduction in cancer risk for people taking the diabetes drug metformin, which helps lower blood sugar levels. In some cases, these GLP-1 drugs were also associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer.

As for the risk of NAION, Bavand Youssefzadeh, an ophthalmologist in Beverly Hills, California, previously told Yahoo Life that he is not concerned because most medications have the potential for rare side effects. “Patients who take these medications already have diabetes or [are] overweight, so they are already at increased risk for eye disease,” he notes. If you experience any new vision problems, it is important to seek medical attention — whether you are taking semaglutide or not.

🍬 Microdosing of sweets is linked to disease and death

Federal health officials are investigating dozens of illnesses — and one possible death — linked to recalled “microdosing” candies sold by the company Diamond Shruumz. The company makes products such as chocolate bars, cones and gummies that contain the psychoactive chemical muscimol, derived from the amanita mushroom, which is legal to possess and consume in the United States.

After consuming these products, at least 48 people in 24 states reported serious symptoms (including seizures, abnormal heartbeats, and loss of consciousness) and 27 were hospitalized. One death is currently under investigation.

What this means for you: While microdosing products are more readily available to purchase online and in smoke shops — and the public is more familiar with them — there is still a general lack of regulation of the industry, which poses risks. More research on muscimol specifically is needed to assess its potential therapeutic benefits and risks.

While authorities do not know the specific cause of these illnesses, they warn that anyone still in possession of these products should immediately stop using them.

Leave a Comment