Health Highlights: Oct. 28, 2015
TB Deaths Outnumber Those From HIV/AIDS: WHO Three-Quarters of Americans Say Drug Affordability is Top Health Priority Experts Condemn Gwyneth Paltrow for Blog Post About Bra-Breast Cancer Myth
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
TB Deaths Outnumber Those From HIV/AIDS: WHO
Tuberculosis now kills more people worldwide than HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2014, TB killed 1.5 million people while HIV/AIDS killed 1.2 million. Each of those totals includes 390,000 people who had both diseases and died of TB, the Washington Post reported.
The finding that TB now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS does not come as a surprise because far more money has been spent on developing HIV drugs than TB drugs over the past decade, experts say.
"Investments in TB are a fraction of the amount that is invested in HIV," Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO's global TB program, told the Post. "That shows a lack of consideration for what this disease is, how many people it kills and the fact that it is curable."
TB and HIV/AIDS are closely linked. People with HIV are at increased risk for TB, and TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV.
Three-Quarters of Americans Say Drug Affordability is Top Health Priority
The affordability of drugs for serious diseases is the leading health issue for three-quarters of Americans of all political stripes, a new survey finds.
The poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation was released Wednesday, amidst ongoing news stories about huge increases in the prices of critical medicines, the Associated Press reported.
The survey found that 77 percent of Democrats, Republicans and Independents said that keeping drugs for cancer, HIV, hepatitis and other serious conditions affordable is their top priority.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they support government action to lower prescription drug costs. Even 56 percent of Republicans said government action to control drug prices should be a priority, the AP reported.
Average prices for the most widely used brand-name drugs rose 128 percent between 2008 and 2014, according to prescription benefit manager Express Scripts. In 2014, total U.S. prescription drug spending climbed 13 percent, the company estimated.
The issue has attracted the attention of politicians, and Democratic presidential campaign candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have promised reforms meant to keep drug prices under control, the AP reported.
Despite strong public support for government action, major changes are not likely to occur anytime soon, according to many experts. Unlike many other nations, the United States has never set prices on prescription drugs, and efforts to give government plans like Medicare and Medicaid more power to negotiate medicine prices have always failed.
Any changes in federal policy would have to make it through the Republican-controlled Congress, "making changes unlikely, despite the drug pricing rhetoric from the campaign trail," according to analysts with investment banking firm Jefferies, the AP reported.
Experts Condemn Gwyneth Paltrow for Blog Post About Bra-Breast Cancer Myth
An online post about the myth that wearing too-tight a bra may increase the risk of breast cancer has actress Gwyneth Paltrow in hot water.
The claim appears on her lifestyle blog Goop.com, CBS News reported.
"Among those who acknowledge the bra/breast cancer risk connection, it's widely held that a tight-fitting bra restricts the lymph nodes around the breast and underarm area, preventing toxins from being processed through them and flushed out of the body," Dr. Habib Sadeghi writes in the post.
"Accumulated toxins anywhere in the body increase the risk for cancer," Sadeghi claims.
However, the American Cancer Society and other major medical groups say there is no proof to support the theory, which circulated on the Internet last year, CBS News reported.
"We do not know of any epidemiologic studies published in scientific journals that suggest bras directly contribute to breast cancer risk or that lymphatic compression by bras might cause breast cancer," the American Cancer Society says on its website.
While the post wasn't written by Paltrow, the fact that it appears on her site represents her stamp of approval, CBS News reported.