Health Highlights: May 31, 2017

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

Olivia Newton-John Announces Breast Cancer Has Returned

Singer Olivia Newton-John says she has been diagnosed with breast cancer that has returned and spread to her back.

The 68-year-old Australian entertainer postponed her June concert dates after learning that the back pain she’d been experiencing and attributed to sciatica was actually cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia,” she said Tuesday in a statement on social media.

The treatments include a short course of photon radiation therapy in addition to “natural wellness therapies,” the statement said, the Times reported.

Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and underwent chemotherapy after breast surgery and reconstruction.


Generic ADHD Drugs Approved by FDA

The first generic versions of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug Strattera (atomoxetine) have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The generic drugs from Apotex Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Aurobindo Pharma Limited and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited were approved in multiple strengths to treat ADHD in children and adults.

“Today’s approvals mark an important step forward in bringing consumers additional treatments that have met the FDA’s rigorous standards,” Dr. Kathleen Uhl, director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

FDA-approved generic prescription drugs have the same quality and strength as brand name drugs, according to the agency.


Tobacco an Environmental Threat: WHO

Along with killing millions of people worldwide each year, tobacco harms the environment through pollution, littering and deforestation, according to a World Health Organization study.

The WHO says tobacco production is resource-intensive and leads to the release of harmful chemicals into soil and water, as well as high amounts greenhouse gases, CNN reported.

In addition, tobacco product litter accounts for the largest amount of litter worldwide.

“Tobacco not only produces lung cancer in people, but it is a cancer to the lungs of the Earth,” said Armando Peruga, a consultant who previously coordinated the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, and reviewed the new report for the WHO, CNN reported.

“Tobacco also takes away a lot of nutrients from the soil and requires massive amounts of fertilizer, a process that leads to degradation of the land and desertification, with negative consequences for biodiversity and wildlife,” Peruga said.

Chemicals used in tobacco production pose a risk to farmers’ health.


Macadamia Nuts Recalled by Kroger

Possible listeria contamination has led to the recall of Simple Truth Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts, the Kroger Co. says.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

The recalled nuts were sold in 12 ounce, clear plastic packages with an expiration date of May 02, 2018 stamped on the side. The products were distributed to Kroger, Bakers, Gerbes and Dillons stores in Ohio, Southeast Indiana, Northern Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

Customers who bought the recalled nuts should return them to a store for a full refund or replacement. For more information, call Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS.


New Medicare Cards Won’t Carry SSN

In an effort to combat identity theft, new ID cards for Medicare beneficiaries will no longer carry their social security numbers.

People will start getting new cards next April, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Instead of a social security number, the new cards will have an 11-character Medicare Beneficiary Identifier that will include letters and numbers,NBC News reported.

“Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors,” CMS said in a statement. “People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice.”

“The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) is confidential like the SSN and should be protected as personally identifiable information,” CMS said.

Medicare covers about 57 million Americans, NBC News reported.

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