More than three years after California voters broadly legalized marijuana, a state panel is considering if its potent, high-inducing chemical — THC — should be declared a risk to pregnant women and require warnings.
Studies have indicated that a rising number of mothers-to-be have turned to marijuana products for relief from morning sickness and headaches, though it's effectiveness has not been backed by science.
Cannabis industry officials say too little sound research is available on THC to support such a move and warn that it could make marijuana companies a target for lawsuits with unverified claims of injuries from pot use during pregnancy.
"That seems like an open-ended checkbook. How do we defend ourselves?" said Los Angeles dispensary owner Jerred Kiloh, who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.
Lawyers looking for a quick buck will say "give us $10,000 or we are going to take you into a long court case," he added.
The California Cannabis Industry Association echoed that fear, noting that pot's standing as an illegal drug at the federal level has choked off research by government agencies. Those studies are needed to determine if THC poses health risks for pregnant women.
"Good policy and consumer protections are based on facts and data," spokesman Josh Drayton said.
The meeting Wednesday of the obscure state Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee in Sacramento will focus on whether THC causes "reproductive toxicity." The panel is made up of scientists appointed by the governor.
An affirmative finding would make THC one of hundreds of chemicals judged to cause cancer or birth defects that the state requires to carry warning labels, such as arsenic and lead.
The review is being carried out under the umbrella of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65. It requires warning labels for chemicals judged as dangerous and allows residents, advocacy groups and attorneys to sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties for failure to provide warnings.
The 1986 law has been credited with weeding out cancer-causing chemicals from products but also faulted for setting the stage for legal shakedowns.
Since 2009, the state has listed marijuana smoke as being known to cause cancer, similar to tobacco smoke.
"The expansion of Proposition 65 as it relates to cannabis is premature and lacks both the facts and the data that would justify this move," Drayton said.
The U.S. surgeon general warned in August that smoking marijuana is dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies. Mainstream medicine advises against pot use in pregnancy because of studies suggesting it might cause premature birth, low birth weight or other health problems, but many of those studies were in animals or had findings that were open to dispute.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is paying for several studies on marijuana use during pregnancy.
If the California panel declares pot a risk for pregnant women, it's not clear what the immediate impact would be on the state's legal pot industry.
Presumably, packaging would need to be changed over time to carry warning labels for pregnant women. But such requirements would likely take additional steps by agencies that oversee marijuana regulation and packaging.
Even products containing CBD, a trendy ingredient extracted from marijuana or hemp, can contain trace amounts of THC.
A new study has shown that acupuncture can help reduce dry mouth for head and neck cancer patients induced by radiation treatment.
The study published on Friday in JAMA Network Open reported the randomized, placebo-controlled, Phase III trial results.
The researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Fudan University Cancer Center in China recruited 339 head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment.
The patients were divided into three groups. One group received true acupuncture (TA), another group received sham acupuncture (SA) and the third group received radiation and oral health education but no acupuncture.
The sham procedure involved a real needle at a point not indicated for dry mouth or xerostomia, real needles at sham points and placebo needles at sham points.
Patients assigned to either TA or SA received acupuncture three days a week on the same day as their radiation treatment, which lasted six to seven weeks.
One year after the end of radiation therapy, the incidence of clinically significant dry mouth was 35 percent in the TA group, 48 percent in the SA group and 55 percent in the control group, according to the study.
"With this study we can add acupuncture to the list for the prevention and treatment of xerostomia, and the guidelines for the use of acupuncture in the oncology setting should be revised to include this important chronic condition," said the study's principal investigator Lorenzo Cohen, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
One in eight or more than 21 million people, cannot afford a nutritious diet in Bangladesh, says a new report.
Local food culture contributes to overconsumption of rice and nutrient poor foods; and the nutritional needs of adolescents and the elderly remain largely unaddressed, it said.
The Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh and World Food Progamme(WFP) on Thursday released the findings from a comprehensive analysis of the availability and affordability of a healthy diet.
This situation is exacerbated for girls when adverse gender norms and practices such as early marriage and pregnancy come into play, the report, entitled Fill the Nutrient Gap, reveals.
“I would like to extend my gratitude for the policy recommendations that have come from the Fill the Nutrient Gap analysis” said Zakir Hossain Akanda, Member Secretary of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh.
“This analysis gives us new insights on the food system, food environment, and also the affordability of nutritious diet for the poor people of Bangladesh.”
Over the past three decades, the government has made great strides in lifting 165 million people out of poverty, according to WFP.
“Bangladesh is a bright example of how Government commitment and coordinated actions can have transformative effects for the population,” said Alpha Bah, Deputy Country Director of WFP in Bangladesh.
“One of the most effective ways of addressing poverty and food insecurity is to reach vulnerable families and communities through the country’s many social safety nets. WFP’s technical expertise has helped the Government improve the reach and impact of some of the most nutrition-sensitive social safety nets, and as a result, the needs of millions of women and their children to healthy and nutritious diets have been met.”
Yet, with high rates of stunting (31%), wasting (8%), micronutrient deficiencies, and a population which is increasingly overweight and obese, a lot remains to be done.
The report calls for urgent actions to improve healthy diets, provide better access to diverse and safe nutritious food.
It also calls to invest in the promotion of supply and demand for nutritious foods, romote healthy dietary habits, incorporating diverse food items at all levels of society.
It laid emphasis on empowering women and girls to improve their nutritional status and the human capital of the population.
A survey by China Youth Daily found that 82.4 percent of Chinese parents worry their children are getting insufficient sleep.
"The sleeping habits of primary and middle school students are getting worse, and the proportion of those lacking sleep is rising," Sun Hongyan, director of the childhood research institute at the China Youth and Children Research Center, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Nearly 63 percent of Chinese children and adolescents aged between 6 and 17 sleep less than eight hours per day, and some 81.2 percent of teenagers aged between 13 and 17 sleep less than eight hours, according to a white paper released by the Chinese Sleep Research Society in March.
The survey showed that excessive schoolwork and pressure from cram schools are deemed to be the two major causes of the lack of sleep, accounting for 61.1 percent and 54.5 percent, respectively.
Homework pressure has long had the biggest effect on children's sleep, while the use of electronic devices and the internet has exacerbated the situation, Sun said.
Respondents agreed their children had three common problems: short slumbering hours, difficulty in falling asleep and nervousness during sleep.
The survey covered 1,876 parents with children aged between six and 17, 77 percent of whom live in the first and second-tier cities
HIV/AIDS had killed more than 1,300 people in Cambodia in 2018, down 48 percent from over 2,500 deaths in 2010, Ieng Mouly, chairman of the National AIDS Authority, said Sunday.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Speaking at an event marking the World AIDS Day, Mouly said some 880 people became newly infected with HIV last year, down 62 percent from 2,300 nine years ago.
"We have seen continued success in combating HIV/AIDS in the last decade, and we are seeking about 20 million U.S. dollars a year from 2020 in order to achieve our target of ending HIV/AIDS in Cambodia by 2025," he said.
Currently, the Southeast Asian nation has an estimated 73,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and about 81 percent of them have received antiretroviral drugs, according to the National AIDS Authority.
Pauline Tamesis, resident coordinator of the United Nations in Cambodia, said despite these immense achievements, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not yet over.
In 2018, 25 percent of new HIV infections were among men who have sex with men, more than three-fold increase from 7 percent in 2010, she said.
Thuon Sarim, who infected the virus from her husband in 2000, said discrimination against people living with HIV had now declined remarkably if compared to that two decades ago.
"About 20 years ago, in some cases, when a HIV carriers sat on his neighbor's bed, and soon after he left the bed, the neighbor took the bed to burn down," she said. "In another case, when a HIV patient drank water at his relative's home, and soon after the patient left the home, the relative threw away the mug the patient had used."
"People feared the virus spread to them. They did not understand about the ways HIV spread at that time," said Sarim, who lives in Southern Takeo province.
Now, she said people in her community are better aware of the ways HIV spread, and they no longer discriminated against her and other patients.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National AIDS Authority, job discrimination against the people living with HIV had dropped from 46 percent in 2010 to 2 percent last year, while verbal harassment against them had declined from 14 percent to 3 percent during the same period.