Eight health and medicine stories that defined 2018 – NewsOK.com

By | December 31, 2018

Investigative journalists revealed that the chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center failed to disclose millions of dollars of payments he’d received from health care companies in research studies that he’d published. The ensuing controversy ultimately forced his resignation. It also served as a reminder that while collaboration between industry and academia is crucial to developing new treatments, so is honesty and transparency.

5. Shorter U.S. life spans

While other wealthy nations continue to see life spans lengthening, life expectancy declined for the third straight year in the U.S. The opioid epidemic played a key role: heroin, fentanyl and other drugs killed more than 70,000 Americans last year, making overdose the leading cause of death for those under 55. Relatedly, suicides surged another 3.7 percent, hitting men and rural America especially hard. Life spans were lowest in areas with high rates of poverty, and Oklahoma fared 47th among the states with an average just shy of 76 years.

6. Fighting flu

The winter of 2017-18 saw flu claim 80,000 American lives, the highest number in more than a decade. The deadly flu season served as a reminder that everybody needs to receive yearly vaccinations against this ever-mutating scourge, which can be especially dangerous in the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. It also helped fuel efforts to develop a universal vaccine that could offer protection beyond a single year.

7. Teens and vaping

The use of e-cigarettes has climbed steadily, especially among teens; in 2018, more than 20 percent of high-school students vaped, almost doubling 2017 rates. The Food and Drug Administration announced measures to cut off access to flavored e-cigarettes, which are especially popular with teens. But the FDA stopped short of a ban, and in December, tobacco giant Altria paid almost $ 13 billion to acquire a stake in vaping startup Juul, the market leader. This union of “old” and “new” tobacco could have staggering health implications for generations to come.

8. Autoimmunity excellence

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