Day: October 21, 2020


Cannabis Reduces OCD Symptoms Around 50%, Research Suggests


  • After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reduced their compulsions by 60% and reduced their anxiety by 52%
  • OCD is a condition characterized by persistent thoughts and repetitive behavior
  • The study was recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders

A Washington State University study revealed people with obsessive-compulsive disorder experienced  a reduction in symptom severity within hours of smoking cannabis.

The researchers analyzed data from people who self-identified as having OCD, a condition characterized by persistent thoughts and repetitive behavior. After smoking cannabis, users with OCD experienced a 60% reduction in compulsions and a 52% reduction in anxiety.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association Of America, OCD affects 1% of the U.S. population. It is equally common among genders and about one-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms during childhood.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found higher doses and cannabis with greater concentrations of CBD were associated with bigger reductions in compulsions.

“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, the study’s corresponding author.

“To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with pure CBD.”

The WSU study drew from data of more than 1,800 cannabis sessions that 87 individuals logged in 31 months. As people continued the study, users developed a small tolerance to cannabis, but reductions in compulsions and anxiety remained fairly consistent.

Traditional treatments for OCD include exposure and response prevention therapy where people’s irrational thoughts around their behaviors are directly challenged. Other mainstream treatments include antidepressants.

 While these treatments have positive effects for many patients, they do not cure OCD nor do they work well for every person.

“We’re trying to build knowledge about the relationship of cannabis use and OCD because it’s an area that is really understudied,” said Dakota Mauzay, a doctoral student in Cuttler’s lab and co-author of the paper.

Researchers are just beginning to understand uses for cannabis. Harvard Medical School reported cannabis is commonly used for pain control in the United States. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain, it is quite effective for chronic and lingering pain, especially for aging individuals. Marijuana is a muscle relaxant, and users say it has the ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease.

In states where medical marijuana has been approved for use, it is authorized for dozens of ailments, including agitation in Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and glaucoma.

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‘Technical Issue’ Renders State Website Stuck

ATLANTA, GA — Health experts in Georgia say they’re concerned that COVID-19 hospitalizations may be increasing. There was no way of knowing whether that was true Wednesday, though, because the state’s online dashboard was stuck most of the afternoon.

As of 6:45 p.m., Wednesday’s coronavirus statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health had yet to be posted because of a “technical issue,” according to the department’s website. Normally, statistics are posted daily at about 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, the chief medical officer of one of Atlanta’s biggest hospitals said he’s starting to see a slight increase in coronavirus cases arriving in intensive care.

“We’ve gone back up a little bit over the last several days,” Dr. Robert Jansen of Grady Memorial Hospital said Wednesday to Atlanta news station WSB-TV.

Jansen told WSB-TV’s Carol Sbarge that he’d heard the same thing from other metro Atlanta hospitals. He urged everyone to continue following COVID-19 safety measures.

Jansen’s observation squares with comments Sunday by an immunology expert and veteran of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now blogs on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we have bottomed out on the descent from the summer surge,” Amber Schmidtke wrote in an Oct. 18 post. “We are seeing increases once again in cases and hospital admissions.”

The worst part, Schmidtke continued, is that it’s “likely our next peak will be even bigger than the summer surge.” But that’s “not a foregone conclusion,” she added.

“We have the power to stop that, but we need to do so now with our actions,” Schmidtke wrote.

Globally, more than 41 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 1.1 million people have died from it, Johns Hopkins University reported Wednesday.

In the United States, more than 8.3 million people have been infected and nearly 222,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of Wednesday. The U.S. has only about 4 percent of the world’s population but more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country.

RELATED: CDC Updates Guidance; North Dakota Suspends Contact Tracing

This article originally appeared on the Dallas-Hiram Patch

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Mira Mesa Dentist Gets Six Years For Insurance Fraud

SAN DIEGO, CA — A former Mira Mesa dentist who bilked insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by submitting claims for procedures she never performed, including hundreds of supposed root canals, has been sentenced to six years in state prison, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

April Rose Ambrosio, 59, pleaded guilty to three counts of insurance fraud earlier this year for fraudulently billing insurance companies for $866,700, for which she received more than $400,000 from 10 insurance companies, according to prosecutors.

The DA’s Office said Ambrosio falsely claimed she performed 800 root canals on 100 patients, despite not having specialized training as an endodontist to perform such procedures.

Ambrosio was sentenced earlier this month, and in addition to a six- year prison term, was ordered to pay $405,633 in restitution. Her license to practice dentistry was also suspended last year, a few months after she was charged.

Prosecutors say the fraud occurred between 2014 and 2018.

During that time, Ambrosio billed for work she said occurred on days her office was closed and billed for more than 100 root canals during a three- month period, all of which were supposedly performed for a family of four, according to the DA’s Office. She also billed for root canals on teeth patients didn’t have or double billed for teeth she previously said she performed root canals on, the DA’s Office said.

“The way this defendant bilked the system is astounding,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “Unfortunately, when insurance companies get ripped off, consumers ultimately pay the price through higher premiums.”

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U.S. again tops 60K new COVID-19 cases; Surgeon General Jerome Adams rejects ‘herd immunity’

Oct. 21 (UPI) — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams joined other top health experts Wednesday in opposing a dangerous “herd immunity” strategy, as the United States again added another 60,000 COVID-19 cases.

According to updated data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 60,300 new cases nationwide on Tuesday — the third time in the past week that the level has topped 60,000.

Deaths in the United States also increased on Tuesday, the data showed, to more than 900. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 8.28 million cases and about 221,100 deaths nationwide.

Wednesday, Adams joined Dr. Antony Fauci and other top health officials in opposing a herd immunity strategy, which is purportedly being considered by the Trump administration. Adams said pursuing such a strategy, which effectively allows the coronavirus to spread unchecked, would result in an unacceptable death toll.

Adams tweeted that there’s no “example of a large-scale successful intentional infection-based herd immunity strategy” and warned that the course would “lead to many complications/deaths.”

The strategy reasons that letting the virus spread would infect large populations, who would then develop a natural immunity to COVID-19 and thereby reduce the number of people who can be infected afterward. Eventually, the theory goes, the virus would run into a dead end.

“Large numbers of people would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine,” Adams wrote, warning that such a path could “overwhelm” healthcare systems.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, rejected the idea of herd immunity last week, calling it “ridiculous” and “total nonsense.”

Most scientists say there would be no feasible way to isolate and protect vulnerable Americans who face a greater risk of death from COVID-19 in such a scenario.

Researchers at the University of Washington say a herd immunity strategy would likely lead to tens of thousands of additional deaths by the start of 2021.

Child cases have increased by almost 15% — 84,000 cases — in the first two weeks of October, according to an update from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association.

Since the start of the crisis, about 740,000 children have tested positive in the United States — almost 11% of total cases, it said. The overall infection rate is 986 per 100,000 children.

Though severe illness and deaths still appear to be rare among children, the groups urged authorities to “provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations and mortality by age and race/ethnicity so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can be documented and monitored.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday there have been about 300,000 deaths more than normal so far this year due to the pandemic.

In a typical year, the CDC said, there are about 1.9 million deaths from all causes between February and October. This year, COVID-19 has pushed that figure to near 2.2 million, an increase of 14.5%.

About 200,000 of the extra deaths may be attributed to

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Medicine Disposal Pouches Promote National Drug Take-Back Day

Press release from RALI NH:

Oct. 21, 2020

With National Drug Take Back Day approaching, the Amherst Police Department will be distributing safe disposal pouches at the police department located at 175 Amherst St, Amherst in addition to housing a drug drop-off box located at the station. Disposal pouches were donated by the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of New Hampshire to help raise awareness of the importance of safe disposal practices and prevent substance misuse. As first responders work to help families stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical priority is the safe disposal of unused medications in the home.

RALI and partners across New Hampshire are committed to finding solutions to end the opioid epidemic through awareness efforts in identifying substance misuse and addiction, in support of successful recovery and in promoting safe disposal, the most effective way of preventing substance misuse. Safe disposal pouches are used to deactivate prescription medicines, making them a key resource for reducing the possibility of prescription drug misuse. At a time when many are practicing social distancing and some National Drug Take Back Day events have been canceled, at-home methods of safe disposal are critical.

“At-home drug disposal is an incredibly important part of combatting the opioid crisis that continues to affect our communities,” said Police Chief, Mark Reams. “We have seen too many families and individuals across our state facing the challenges of substance misuse, and with the compounding difficulties posed by COVID-19, we all have a responsibility to take the preventive, and often times even lifesaving, actions of safely disposing unused medications.”

RALI partners across the state have worked throughout the pandemic to continue supporting those facing addiction and working to manage recovery. Drug take back locations can be found across the state, please find the closest location to you here:

To learn more about safe disposal and other ways to take action against the opioid epidemic, please visit

This press release was produced by RALI NH. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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Katya is ready to blast your earholes with Vampire Fitness


Your dad just calls her Katya, but the ghost of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is about to label her the lithe ingenue coming for his crown as the most iconic musician of all time.

The drag icon has made a (super Russian) name for herself as one of the world’s premier comedy queens, but after climbing the New York Times best-seller list and maintaining her comedic reign over digital streaming, for her next career move, the Boston native exclusively tells EW she “wanted to answer the [call] that so many fans have been asking: Please don’t do music” by, well, doing music.

“I’m not a planner. I’ve actually been working on it for two or three years just trying to get all the melodies right,” Katya says of her forthcoming EP Vampire Fitness on a recent installment of EW’s Instagram Live show Queening Out, though it’s unclear whether she’s speaking earnestly or in jest as she references the onslaught of fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race alums who have taken a stab at recording careers, whether vocally inclined or otherwise. Luckily, Katya falls into the former category, just not in ways you might expect. “I’ve been at the piano for two or three years. I had to take a break so I kind of shelved it…. I’m vacillating between periods of humiliation and enthusiasm about the project.”

The result is an experimental digital distortion of European dance, sex, orgasmic wailing, the sounds of murder, spoken sermons about self-administered dentistry, and, of course, Italian cuisine, all tied together as a “multi-pronged, many-tiered assault” on listeners with “consonant clusters” found in Russian pop songs.

“I wanted to do music that you could hear, like, in a club that I’ve never been to,” Katya promises. “Maybe in a Diane Keaton movie.”

Vampire Fitness is out Nov. 13. Read on for EW’s exclusive track-by-track breakdown with Katya.

“Come in Brazil”

Drag superstar Alaska joins Katya for a divine intercontinental expression of lust as the pair crafts a lush soundscape inspired by incessant fan pleas for drag queens to perform in the song’s titular South American nation. “The chorus is in Portuguese,” Katya reveals of the EP’s first single, though the lyrical content is far too explicit to list here, but we can confirm that it does involve commanding a derriere onto one’s facial region. “These are things I learned not through reading books or watching television programs, but through people screaming them at me all the time,” recalls Katya.

“Ding Dong”

Katya describes her collaboration with longtime professional partner Trixie Mattel as a “bar mitzvah barn-burner,” and that her fellow Drag Race alum and Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood co-author was “really cooperative” in the songwriting process. “To me, this is such a joke, because once you hear the song, it’s like four words from a movie,” Katya says of the number that takes cues from Ukrainian star Svetlana Loboda’s “Boom Boom” and Eurodance — a stark genre departure from

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Fewer Painful Procedures Could Help Preemies’ Brain Development: Study | Health News

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter


WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Giving fewer needle sticks to premature newborns in the intensive care unit may improve growth of a key brain area, a new study suggests.

The thalamus relays sensory data from the body to the rest of the brain, where it registers as pain, touch or temperature.

For the study, researchers compared 86 premature infants who had a catheter placed in their central veins and central or peripheral arteries for more than two weeks with 57 infants who had a catheter for less time. The catheters act as portals for blood draws, nutrition and medication, reducing the need for individual needle pokes.

Infants who had central lines for longer periods had fewer needle sticks and fewer painful procedures. Those babies also had a bigger thalamus. Studies have shown that the volume of the thalamus may be linked with early childhood brain development.

“Babies born very prematurely are exposed to multiple unpleasant and painful yet necessary procedures every day,” said study author Emma Duerden, who conducted the study while at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Placing central lines to deliver care and monitor babies’ progress dramatically reduces the number of painful needle sticks. But, Duerden said, some clinicians avoid these catheters for longer periods due to infection concerns.

“Our research not only found that prolonged use of central arterial and venous lines was associated with larger thalamus volumes, it also found that prolonged use was not associated with a greater number of infections,” Duerden said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

A few weeks after birth, babies had brain scans to measure the size of their thalamus. Then, they were followed up at an average age of 5 years.

Those with a larger thalamus in infancy did better on tests of thinking and memory than those whose thalamus was smaller, the study found.

“Babies born prematurely can have numerous health struggles, so if clinicians can reduce their pain during the first few weeks after they are born, this could possibly lead to improved brain development over time, with a potential to have a huge impact on their lives,” Duerden said.

While the study shows an association between pain reduction and brain development, it doesn’t prove cause and effect, so more research is needed, she said.

The report was published online Oct. 21 in the journal Neurology.

Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Drug Combo May Be Safe, Effective Therapy for Rare Leukemia | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter


WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A combination of two “targeted” therapies can beat back a rare form of blood cancer — without the toxic effects of chemotherapy, a new study has found.

In a trial of 63 patients, researchers found that the drug regimen frequently wiped out all signs of the cancer — a subtype of the blood cancer acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). And at 18 months, 95% of patients were still alive.

Experts said it is too soon to call the approach a “cure.” But they were hopeful the findings, published Oct. 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine, could lead to an effective — and chemo-free — treatment for the cancer.

The disease is a subtype of ALL in which the cancer cells have a genetic abnormality called the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph). Traditionally, Ph-positive ALL had a poor prognosis, but in the past two decades that has changed with the introduction of drugs that target the genetic anomaly.

Those drugs belong to a class called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), and include Gleevec — the first TKI approved, back in 2001 — as well as newer ones like Sprycel and Bosulif.

But even with TKIs available, patients with Ph-positive ALL still undergo intensive chemotherapy — and it takes a toll.

Among adults with ALL, 10% to 20% die during chemo, according to Dr. Dieter Hoelzer, of the University of Frankfurt, in Germany. Those risks are even higher for elderly patients, he writes in an editorial published with the study.

Aggressive chemo can substantially lower blood cell counts, which may leave patients vulnerable to infections or in need of multiple blood transfusions, explained Dr. Jae Park.

Park, a leukemia specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, was not involved in the trial.

Park said that a highly effective, chemo-free regimen would “change the landscape” of Ph-positive ALL treatment.

The regimen chosen for the trial, conducted in Italy, included Sprycel and an immunotherapy drug called Blincyto (blinatumomab), which enlists the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells. It is already approved in the United States for certain ALL patients.

The patients in this study were newly diagnosed with Ph-positive ALL and ranged in age from 24 to 82. They first received Sprycel (dasatinib) for 85 days, to try to send the cancer into remission. That was followed by two to five treatment cycles of Blincyto, in an effort to wipe out the remains of the cancer. The drug is given by infusion; each cycle lasts four weeks.

After the initial Sprycel treatment, 98% of patients went into remission. And after the second cycle of Blincyto, 60% were showing a “molecular response” — where sensitive tests detect no signs of the genetic abnormality that marks the cancer.

The patients were followed for up to two years. At that point, 95% were still alive, and 88% were free of a relapse, according to the researchers led by Dr.

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A pandemic didn’t deter this 102-year-old from voting

To maximize her safety, she submitted her absentee ballot at an in-person ballot box this month in Hampton, South Carolina.

Dr. Quentin Youmans was so inspired by his 102-year-old great aunt that he tweeted photos of her, bundled up in a trench coat and head scarf, with her absentee ballot in one hand and a disposable face mask in the other.

“If she can do it, you can too!” wrote Youmans, a cardiology fellow at Northwestern Medicine.

With this much on the line, Ora wouldn’t have missed it. And she was still able to vote with her health and safety in mind, Youmans said.

Ora says it’s an ‘enjoyment’ to vote

Ora told CNN it’s an “enjoyment to go vote,” but she voted absentee this year for her safety — older adults are more likely to become severely ill if they’re infected with Covid-19.
Not even a global pandemic could stop this 102-year-old from voting in this election

“Well, I think we need to change presidents, for one,” she said. “So I voted for this man (Biden). I hope he does a good job.”

A staunch supporter of former President Barack Obama, Ora said she doesn’t like the way President Donald Trump has led the country during his time in office.
“Things were pretty good until this other man got there,” she said. “It looks like he wants things to go back to Hoover times,” a reference to the Great Depression when millions of Americans struggled to find work and poverty was widespread.

“We don’t want that to come back to the generation coming now,” she said. “That’s why I’m so happy if this puts Trump out.”

Youmans said his great aunt is an inspiration

Youmans explained why Ora’s vote was especially significant: A lifelong resident of the Deep South, Ora’s grandmother had been enslaved.

Ora was in her late 40s when the Civil Rights Act finally passed and outlawed segregation, though she lived in a state where poll taxes and other tools of voter suppression attempted to keep Black voters out.

Worried about coronavirus? If your loved one is over 60, read this

Ora remained steadfast in her commitment to voting then as she does now, something Youmans said inspires him.

“To think she was born the year of the last pandemic, and now here we are going through another pandemic, and she still got up and made sure her voice was heard,” he said. “It was something I hoped to share with the world.”

The photos of Ora have already reached former residents of the White House. Since Youmans tweeted the photos on Wednesday, thousands of Twitter users have seen Ora pose with her ballot — including Obama, who quipped that “102 never looked better.”

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Illinois starts planning for COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — While battling a recalcitrant coronavirus pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday started laying plans for distributing a safe and effective vaccine.

But other than saying that a vaccine would go first to health care providers, long-term care residents and other vulnerable populations, Pritzker, at his renewed daily COVID-19 briefing, offered few details, saying much depends on what the federal government ultimately approves to prevent the virus.

“The challenge of designing a plan now, of course, is that there’s so much about the vaccines that we don’t know,” Pritizker said in Chicago. “The most defining characteristic of this plan is that it’s adjustable as we go forward and learn more.”

Details such as whether a vaccine will require one or more than one dose to be effective, whether it needs refrigerated storage or could be stored at room temperature, and even how vaccine delivered in large containers will be broken down for specimens to be shipped to small health care facilities will affect the state plan, Pritzker said.

Talk of a coming vaccine offered a bit of good news rarely available from the Democratic governor in the past week, after record-setting days for new infections and tighter restrictions starting in the coming days for parts of the state.

The Illinois Illinois Department of Public Health reported 69 new COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day total since June 16, among 4,352 new infections, the next-to-highest single-day total.

Deaths now total 9,345 among the 355,217 confirmed cases.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has suggested that the earliest a vaccine would be available is by year’s end. That simply would mark the start of the rollout process for the states, said Dr. Ngoze Ezike, state health department director.

“Vaccinations, once they arrive, will take many, many months at the minimum to actually get into the arms of the people of Illinois,” Ezike said. “So this will unfold in phases, with initially only a small amount of vaccine available, and as production ramps up more individuals will be able to avail themselves of this countermeasure.”

Health care centers will register to be vaccine providers and order it through the state, Ezike said. The vaccine will not be required, but the health department will publicize its availability and its benefits. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated to establish an acceptable level of “herd immunity” to prevent ongoing widespread illness.

There will be no charge for the vaccine, she said.


Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at

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