Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2017

Former NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Had Severe Brain Disease HIV Antibody Shows Promise CVS to Restrict Opioid Painkiller Prescription Amounts Botulism Fears Spur Recall of Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew More Fetal Deaths, Fewer Pregnancies When Flint Had High Lead Levels in Drinking Water: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Former NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Had Severe Brain Disease

A former NFL player who died by suicide while serving a life sentence for murder had a severe form of a brain disease linked to repeated concussions, scientists report.

The researchers said the brain of 27-year-old Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who died in April, revealed "the most severe case [of chronic traumatic encephalopathy] they had ever seen in someone of Aaron's age," a lawyer for Hernandez said at a news conference on Thursday, The New York Times reported.

The lawyer said the level of damage in Hernandez's brain was similar to that in players with a median age of 67.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death. It has been found in 110 of 111 former NFL players examined by researchers at Boston University's CTE Center. A number of those players also died by suicide, the Times reported.

Stage 4 CTE is the most severe, and Hernandez had stage 3, according to a statement from the CTE Center.

The Center said its researchers have "demonstrated that CTE is associated with aggressiveness, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss and other cognitive changes."


HIV Antibody Shows Promise

An antibody that attacks 99 percent of HIV strains has been developed by researchers.

The antibody targets three important parts of the virus and prevented HIV infection in monkeys, according to a study published in the journal Science, BBC News reported Thursday.

Human clinical trials of the antibody will begin in 2018.

"This paper reports an exciting breakthrough," Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society, told the BBC. "These super-engineered antibodies seem to go beyond the natural and could have more applications than we have imagined to date."

Bekker noted that it's "early days yet" and it's important to "confirm these findings in humans as soon as possible."


CVS to Restrict Opioid Painkiller Prescription Amounts

Opioid painkiller prescriptions will be limited to a seven-day supply for certain conditions, CVS Pharmacy announced Thursday.

It's the first national retail chain in the United States to restrict how many of the pain pills doctors can provide to patients, NBC News reported.

CVS also said that when filling prescriptions for OxyContin, Vicodin and other opioid painkillers, pharmacists must talk with patients about the risks of addiction, secure storage of medications in the home, and proper disposal of the drugs.

The measures take effect Feb. 1, 2018.

A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said that the average supply of opioids prescribed to patients by doctors in the United States rose from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015, according to NBC News.


Botulism Fears Spur Recall of Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew

The risk of potentially deadly botulism food poisoning has triggered the recall of 11-oz. cans of Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew, Death Wish Coffee Co. says.

It has been "determined that the current process could lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin, botulin ..." the Round Lake, N.Y.-based company said in a news release.

The product has been taken off the company's online store and removed from shelves at stores. No illnesses have been reported.

Consumers who bought Death Wish Nitro should not consume it. They can throw it away or return it with proof of purchase for a full refund.

Symptoms of botulism include general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing, difficulty in breathing, abdominal distention and constipation. People experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.


More Fetal Deaths, Fewer Pregnancies When Flint Had High Lead Levels in Drinking Water: Study

There was an increase in fetal deaths and a decrease in pregnancies when Flint, Michigan had high levels of lead in its drinking water, a new study says.

The analysis of 2008 to 2015 health records from the city and 15 other large cities in Michigan showed that fertility rates fell 12 percent among Flint women and fetal death rates rose 58 percent after April 2014, when the city started using the Flint River as a drinking water source, USA Today reported.

The city had been using water supplied by the city of Detroit, but switched to water from the Flint River in order to save money. Anti-corrosives needed to be added to the river water, which led to high lead levels.

The health records also showed that compared to infants born in the other cities, those born in Flint were nearly 150 grams lighter, were born a half-week earlier, and gained 5 grams less per week, according to assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University, USA Today reported.

The findings appear in a working paper and has not yet been peer reviewed by other scientists, Slusky said.

Gov. Rick Snyder and state health and environmental officials did not acknowledge the high lead levels in Flint's drinking water until late September 2015. The city has since switched back to Great Lakes Water Authority-supplied water, USA Today reported.

Fifteen state and local officials have been criminally indicted in connection with the Flint water crisis.

"Flint was a government failure -- enough people have been indicted that there's a reasonable consensus around that," Slusky said, USA Today reported.

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