Health Highlights: Aug. 26, 2019
Climate Change Raises Athletes' Risk of Heat Illness Men Should be Included in Breast Cancer Clinical Trials: FDA Tourist With Measles Visited Southern California Attractions Oklahoma Opioid Lawsuit Verdict to be Released Monday
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Climate Change Raises Athletes' Risk of Heat Illness
A new study shows why climate change could put outdoor athletes at greater risk for potentially deadly heat illness.
The authors analyzed 239 locations in the United States and found that over the last four decades, 198 cities have had an increase in the number of days a year with a heat index temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more, according to the nonprofit group Climate Central, CNN reported.
The heat index measures how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The National Weather Services heat index is calculated for shady locations with a slight breeze, and it can feel even hotter if you're in the sun.
Cities with the largest annual increases in days with a heat index temperature of 90 degrees F or hotter include: McAllen, Texas with 31.6 more days per year since 1979; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with 24.2 more; New Orleans, with 23.6 more; Miami, with 23 more; and Savannah, Georgia, with 22.8 more, CNN reported.
Nearly a dozen cities had average increases of at least four "danger" days since 1979. A danger day occurs when the combined heat and humidity makes it feel like 105 degrees F or hotter. Since 1979, McAllen had an increase of 21.9 danger days, Houston had 9.6 more and Pensacola, Florida, had 5.9 days more, according to the study.
On extremely hot and humid days, sweat -- a natural cooling mechanism -- doesn't evaporate, impairing people's ability to cool down. It can also be hard to breathe on such days, CNN reported.
On heat index and danger days, it can be risky to exercise outdoors due to the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. High temperatures have led to the cancellation of a number of sporting events worldwide, including the New York Triathlon in July.
Since 1995, 64 football players in the U.S. have died from heat stroke, and 90ഉ of those deaths occurred during practices. The study says coaches should follow National Athletic Trainers' Association guidelines to protect players while practicing in the heat, including having fluids on hand at all times, encouraging rest breaks and monitoring for signs of heat-related illness, CNN reported.
Men Should be Included in Breast Cancer Clinical Trials: FDA
Men should be included in clinical trials of new breast cancer treatments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
"Less than 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men, but men are more likely to be diagnosed at an older age and have a more advanced stage of disease. As breast cancer in men is rare, they have typically not been included in clinical trials for breast cancer treatment," according to an FDA news release.
"This has led to a lack of data, so their treatment is generally based upon studies and data collected in women. While some FDA-approved treatments are gender-neutral in their indication, many therapies are only approved for women and further data may be necessary to support labeling indications for men."
The draft guidance that men be included in breast cancer clinical trials was issued by the FDA on Aug. 26.
"When finalized, the recommendations in the draft guidance will provide clarity for industry regarding how additional data to support efficacy and safety for male patients with breast cancer can be generated through a variety of trial designs using different data sources, including studies using real-world data," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the news release.
"We hope that the recommendations in the draft guidance issued today will, when finalized, encourage drug development for the treatment of male breast cancer and ultimately, provide additional FDA-approved treatment options for patients," he concluded.
Tourist With Measles Visited Southern California Attractions
People who were at Disneyland and other Southern California tourist attractions earlier this month may have been exposed to measles by a tourist from New Zealand, Los Angeles and Orange counties health officials say.
They said the teen girl had measles when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Aug. 11 and booked into the Desert Palms Hotel in Anaheim, the Associated Press reported.
After going to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park on Aug. 12, it's believed she went to Universal Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre and Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, and the Santa Monica beach and pier on Aug. 14-15.
The teen has since returned to New Zealand, according to officials.
It's not aware of any cases of measles linked to the girl, but the California Department of Public Health is continuing to investigate, the AP reported.
However, it can take up to 21 days after exposure for measles symptoms such as fever and rash to appear, local health authorities noted.
Oklahoma Opioid Lawsuit Verdict to be Released Monday
A decision in Oklahoma's precedent-setting lawsuit against a major drug company over the opioid crisis is to be handed down Monday.
The verdict could have huge implications as other states and communities target pharmaceutical firms for the opioid epidemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. since 2000, CNN reported.
Oklahoma has accused Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, of creating a public nuisance that cost the state billions of dollars and caused thousands of deaths. Johnson & Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.
The state has asked for nearly $17.2 billion over 30 years to tackle the problem.
Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman is scheduled to release his decision Monday afternoon. If Oklahoma wins the case, it would be the largest monetary award handed down in a bench trial in American history, CNN reported.
If the judge rules in favor of Johnson & Johnson, it would provide the pharmaceutical industry with a precedent to defend in cases across the U.S., according to experts.
"What's happening in Oklahoma is setting the tone," Abbe Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School, told CNN. "Johnson & Johnson took a gamble here, going to trial in front of the world in a televised courtroom. ... They could have a huge victory or they could have a huge defeat, and that's going to set a tone for everything that follows."