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Vaping Death Totals Continue to Rise

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While the vaping illness that was so prevalent in the news during the summer of 2019 isn’t making headlines now, it’s still a major concern with new cases and deaths being reported. Four more deaths have been added to the list since January 21, bringing the total to 64.

More Illnesses and Deaths

Those deaths have occurred in 28 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of those hospitalized for the illness was up to 2758, which is an increase of 47 since the January update. The illness also has a name – EVALI or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. Most of the products contain vitamin E acetate, which is a product safe for use as a topical or for eating but harmful when inhaled. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still believes there could be more than one cause of the disease.

According to health officials, the worst of the disease occurred in September 2019 with the most cases being treated. New cases are still being treated and reported around the country and other deaths are under investigation. The government agencies have warned people to avoid using illegal products for vaping.

Sales of vaping products, especially those that contain THC, have dropped around the country where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use. Washington had the largest drop in sales by nearly 50 percent. Other states, including California and Colorado, are seeing an increase once again.

Continued Concern

Federal agencies claim that nicotine vapes aren’t part of the outbreak of the illness. A ban across the country on most flavored vaping products took affect early in February. This includes fruit and mint, but it may not be as effective as is hoped. The ban focused on cartridges for vaporizers or prefilled pods, such as those manufactured by the major e-cigarette manufacturers. Disposable vapes weren’t included in the ban, and they feature various flavors.

There is some concern that states may be taking the ban too far. Proponents for vaping say that banning menthol could do more harm than good. They cite statistics that say menthol smokers smoke less than non-menthol smokers. Vaping in schools is still a major concern because the devices are easy to conceal and use during school hours. It can be difficult to catch a student vaping. The schools are concerned about how vaping is impacting their studies and grades as well as their behavior at home.

The design of many of the vaping products makes it easy to hide in plain sight. For instance, one product looks just like a Sharpie and even has the word written on the side. Another product looks like a watch, which can be worn on the wrist. To combat this problem, some schools have installed vapor detectors in bathrooms. While no alarm is triggered, a message is sent to administration to alert them about what is going on.

Vaping may not make the headlines as it has in the past, but it still carries a risk for those who continue.

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Bayer Settles Roundup Lawsuit for Nearly $11 Billion

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Rounup weed killer on the store shelf

Bayer AG agreed to pay nearly $11 billion as a settlement for thousands of lawsuits over its product, Roundup. Plaintiffs filed lawsuits all across the US alleging that the herbicide causes cancer.

Bayer has been involved in lawsuits for almost two years. Currently, there have been around 125,000 suits claiming that the product was the direct cause of cancer diagnoses. The settlement takes care of almost 100,000 of those cases, most of which were set for trial. However, the manufacturer doesn’t admit to any wrongdoing or liability for its product.

The manufacturer has maintained that the active ingredient, glyphosate, is safe for use as intended. Independent studies have provided indications otherwise. The long battle has impacted the shares for the company as investors waited to see what would happen with the claims.

Bayer Inherits Problems with Roundup

Bayer was the heir for the claims when it purchased Monsanto, the company that made Roundup. The transaction was completed about two years ago, just as the first of the lawsuits began to gain traction.

This $11 billion settlement is the largest out of court agreement for any single product. It overtakes the deal from Merck over the painkiller Vioxx, which resulted in a $5 billion settlement.

According to a spokesperson for the company, Bayer will continue to manufacture and sell Roundup to customers. However, it will not include a label for cancer warning on the product. The settlement doesn’t prevent future cases from being filed.

Several agencies have claimed that glyphosate is safe for use and doesn’t cause cancer. Among those agencies are the European Chemicals Agency and the US Environmental Protection Agency. However, the World Health Organization claimed that the ingredient was a probable carcinogen. This decision came in 2015, and three juries in the US agreed with the determination after listening to evidence for both views.

Independent Scientific Research

Bayer still wants to clear its product from the shadow of accusations and prevent future litigation by allowing an independent study. Details have not been released on the proposal, but the company is betting that science will back the claim that Roundup is safe to use.

A federal judge will have to approve the proposal which must still have the details worked out. It is expected that both sides will have to agree on the panel of scientific experts. Bayer is prepared to pay $1.25 billion for the research needed by the panel. This amount doesn’t include future settlement payouts.

The review is expected to take as long as four years with the results being binding to both Bayer and any future plaintiffs. If the product is found to be safe, people who have used it up to now couldn’t sue. If it’s determined to be carcinogenic, it could open Bayer up to numerous new lawsuits that will have even more support of scientific research.

Even if the proposal is approved, it may face challenges in court. While scientific panels have been used in mass tort cases, they haven’t been included as part of the settlement agreement.

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New Research Indicates Silicone from Breast Implants May Cause Cell Death

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According to researchers, the silicone molecules which are found in breast implants may cause cells in the body to die. The information was published in Scientific Reports.

Silicone Molecules Killing Healthy Cells?

Silicone breast implants have been debated for many years. People who have had these implants have suffered from symptoms that appeared to be related to the implants. Many complained of fever, fatigue, painful muscles and joints and other symptoms. This study is the first to indicate that silicone may have an impact on cells.
It is well-known that silicone leaks out of the implants and enters the body. These molecules can get into the bloodstream or go through the lymphatic system and move through the body.

The question was what happens to the cells that come into contact with the silicone. This question led to research with cultured cells. What researchers noted was that contact with silicone molecules had a similar impact as when cells die naturally as part of the process of clearing cells out of the system. What was noted was that the smaller molecules had a stronger impact on the cells.

The researchers used three different cells, and one was more sensitive than the other two when exposed to the molecules. Researchers now wonder if the reaction led to a response of the autoimmune system, which may be why people had the negative side effects.

Continued Concerns Over Implants

The concern with breast implants isn’t new. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration wanted manufacturers to put a warning highlighted by a box in the information that women receive before getting implants. This request was made in October of 2019. The FDA also recommended have a checklist be provided to women that must be completed to make sure that they understand the possible issues with getting implants.

The FDA has said that women state they don’t feel fully informed of risks when they are thinking about getting the implants. Doctors should also explain to women that the implants shouldn’t be considered devices for life. Repeat surgeries are often required, and women should be aware of this risk. Statistics show that one in five women who get the implants for cosmetic improvement must get them removed within eight or ten years.

According to the FDA, around 400,000 women get these breast implants each year, but only 100,000 are from breast cancer surgery. The main reason for the use of breast implants is breast augmentation, which is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure done in the US.

Concern over breast implants has varied due to many potential issues with the devices. In July 2019, the FDA requested that Allergan remove the Biocell implant. It had been linked to an increased risk for a type of lymphoma.

Women have been linking a host of health issues to their implants and reporting them to the FDA. While more research is necessary to determine if the implants cause these symptoms, the FDA advocates that patients receive more information to determine if they want to have the surgery, so they are better prepared for possible complications.

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More Brands Removing Talc from Beauty and Health Products

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Cosmetic products receive a great deal of scrutiny on the ingredients used, testing methods and manufacturing processes. One of the more notable issues that has received attention in the media recently is with talc and the link to asbestos. The result is that manufacturers are changing their products to protect their reputations.

Dangers of Talc

Talc is mined from the same areas as asbestos, which can cause the two compounds to be present together unless the talc is purified. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that causes mesothelioma, an aggressive and rare form of cancer. Talc is used in cosmetic products, and it has been discovered that it may contain asbestos. Over time, a build-up in system of asbestos can cause cancer in women and anyone who uses these products.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed by people who were diagnosed with this type of cancer after using certain products containing talc for many years, even decades. Johnson& Johnson have received the most attention and have many lawsuits pending because of the talc in their baby powder. However, they aren’t the only company to have this issue.

The Move Away from Talc

More manufacturers are being faced with lawsuits because their products contained talc and allegedly, asbestos. These manufacturers are quietly taking steps to remove talc from the products. Among the big brand names are L’Oreal, Chanel and Revlon.

J&J recently banned talc from the formulations used in its products. The US Food and Drug Administration is still investigating claims of both mesothelioma and ovarian cancer linked to the baby powder.

Talc has been a popular ingredient in cosmetics and powders because it absorbs moisture. It helps prevent these products from getting caked. While talc can be found in liquids, it’s most prevalent in powders. This is also where it’s most dangerous since the powders can disperse particles into the air, which are inhaled.

Trending in the Right Direction

Talc isn’t the only option for the products even though it has been the most popular. Manufacturers can use plant starches, such as corn. These particles are larger which prevents them from being inhaled as easily. Since they aren’t minerals, they are less likely to be contaminated as well.

Many products still on the market contain talc, which you can identify by reading the list of ingredients. However, there are more talc-free alternatives, which often proudly display this fact on the packaging. Talc is a popular ingredient in blush, eye shadow, loose powder and other beauty and skin care products.

Revlon has removed talc from all products while L’Oreal is still considering what to replace the talc with. Chanel has removed one body powder product while other products still include talc on the list of ingredients. As more awareness is brought to the risk of asbestos in talc products, it’s expected to see manufacturers continue to find alternatives. People who have been using these products for 30 years or more appear to have the greatest risk for developing mesothelioma from the asbestos in the talc.

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