Health roundup: ‘Stealth’ omicron cause for worry? Paralyzed man vows to walk again, and more

Experts say ‘stealth’ version of omicron variant no cause for alarm

The so-called “stealth” variant of Omicron isn’t likely to cause another devastating wave of COVID-19, experts say.

The new version of the variant, called BA.2, doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease and vaccines are just as effective against it as against the original Omicron variant (BA.1), but BA.2 does show signs of spreading more rapidly.

“This may mean higher peak infections in places that have yet to peak, and a slowdown in the downward trends in places that have already experienced peak Omicron,” Thomas Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, told The New York Times.

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After a spinal cord stroke left him paralyzed, he vowed to walk again

Having been a flight engineer during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Jeffrey Morse knew resilience.

He knew headaches and migraines from his past.

But in the summer of 2012, it felt like someone was ripping the skin open on the back side of his neck with searing pain pounding in his head. This was a migraine like no other in his past and the pain was much worse. Light hitting his eyes made it even more excruciating.

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Is the flu vaccine effective against life-threatening illness in children?

Influenza vaccine effectiveness was 75 percent against life-threatening influenza in children during the 2019 to 2020 season, when vaccine-mismatched viruses predominated, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Samantha M. Olson, M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues enrolled children aged younger than 18 years admitted to the intensive care unit with acute respiratory infection across 17 hospitals and tested respiratory specimens for influenza viruses. A test-negative design was used to estimate vaccine effectiveness comparing the odds of vaccination in test-positive cases versus test-negative controls. A total of 159 critically ill influenza case patients (51 percent A/H1N1pdm09 and 25 percent B-Victoria viruses) and 132 controls were enrolled.

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Higher coffee consumption tied to lower risk for endometrial cancer

Increased coffee intake is associated with a lower risk for endometrial cancer (EC), according to a meta-analysis published online Jan. 19 in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research.

Yu Gao, from the Liangxiang Hospital of Beijing, and colleagues conducted a literature review to identify studies evaluating the relationship between coffee drinking and the risk for EC.

Based on 24 included studies (699,234 participants), the researchers found that the pooled relative risk (RR) for endometrial cancer for the highest versus the lowest categories of coffee intake was 0.71.

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Your gas stove might make you (and the planet) sick

That gas stove in your kitchen fires up quickly and cooks evenly. What’s not to love?

A lot, as it turns out.

The emissions from gas stoves are considered major contributors to climate change and damaging to human health. Now, new research suggests they’re troublesome even when they’re turned off.

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Rehab or steroid shots: what’s best for arthritic knees?

Physical therapy for knee arthritis tends to cost patients more out-of-pocket and involves a lot more hassle than a quick steroid shot to soothe an aching joint.

But in the long run, physical therapy is at least as cost-effective as steroid injections and is more likely to provide longer-term relief, a new study concludes.

“Even though maybe the initial costs of physical therapy are a little bit higher over the course of the year, when you look at all the knee-related costs over the year, the amount of benefit you got from physical therapy made it more cost-effective,” explained lead researcher Daniel Rhon, director of the Primary Care Musculoskeletal Research Center & Clinical Scientist Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

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More berries, red wine in diet might slow Parkinson’s

Red wine may be a guilty pleasure, but new research shows it might also be a powerful weapon against the ravages of Parkinson’s disease.

Why? The antioxidants in red wine, and fruit such as berries for that matter, might slow progression of the movement disorder, a new study suggests.

According to researchers, people with Parkinson’s who eat three or more servings per week of foods high in antioxidants called flavonoids may reduce their odds of dying early compared with people who do not eat as many flavonoid-rich foods.

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