Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Indonesia to raise cigarette prices by more than a third at start of 2020

Indonesia will raise the minimum price of cigarettes by more than a third from January next year, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday, as part of the government's efforts to reduce smoking rates. Nearly 70% of adult men smoke in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organization - one of the highest rates in the world - and tobacco kills 225,720 people each year in the country or 14.7% of all deaths, mostly through cardiovascular diseases, the WHO said in a 2018 report.

PTSD linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer

Women who exhibit many classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be much more likely to develop ovarian cancer than their counterparts who don't, a new study suggests. For the study, researchers asked women to identify the most stressful event of their lives and report whether they experienced seven different symptoms of PTSD. Women who suffered from six or seven PTSD symptoms were more than twice as likely to develop ovarian cancer as women who didn't report any of these symptoms, the study found.

Thais allowed six cannabis plants per household under draft law

A party in Thailand's ruling coalition has proposed a draft law that would allow Thais to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home, less than a year after the country legalised the drug for medicinal purposes and research. Under Thailand's current drug laws, recreational users of cannabis can incur tough penalties, including up to 10 years in prison for possession and hefty fines.

Explainer: One possible culprit in vaping lung illnesses - 'Dank Vapes'

As U.S health officials scramble to identify the root cause of hundreds of severe lung illnesses tied to vaping, one possible culprit identified so far is a line of illicit marijuana vape products sold under the brand names "Dank Vapes" and "Chronic Carts." A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than half of patients with the lung illness - 24 of 41 - who were extensively interviewed in Wisconsin and Illinois reported having used the "Dank Vapes" brand.

U.S and European regulators reviewing safety of heartburn drugs like Zantac

U.S. and European drug regulators said on Friday they are reviewing the safety of the widely taken heartburn drug ranitidine, commonly known by the brand name Zantac, after they found traces of a probable cancer-causing impurity in some versions of the medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had found traces of the impurity, called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), in some of drugs with ranitidine in them. Both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency said they will review the drug's safety, but neither agency is currently calling for patients to stop taking it.

New Jersey expected to announce vaping restrictions within weeks

Within weeks, New Jersey could become the latest state to restrict e-cigarette use, with the governor on Thursday launching a task force to find ways to curb vaping, linked by U.S. health officials to hundreds of respiratory illnesses and a half-dozen deaths. "As of this moment, there is no safe vape," Governor Phil Murphy said at a media briefing, adding he was concerned about both teen use and the recent illnesses. "The only safe alternative to smoking is not smoking."

Virtual reality helps kids getting X-rays

A virtual reality program with cartoon characters may reduce children's fear before imaging procedures, a South Korean study suggests. Compared to verbal instructions, a virtual reality experience that explained the process of chest X-rays in detail reduced kids' anxiety and stress, researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics.

More evidence links dog ownership to better heart health

No one can say if it's the walks or the unconditional love, but there's something about owning a dog that goes hand in hand with better heart health, suggests a study in eastern Europe. Researchers examined more than 1,700 adults in the Czech Republic and found that dog owners tended to be younger, female and more likely to smoke than people with different pets or with no companion animals. Yet the dog owners were also more active, had better levels of blood fat and blood sugar, and were less likely to be obese, giving them an overall better cardiovascular health profile than the rest.

Exclusive: While battling opioid crisis, U.S. government weighed using fentanyl for executions

The U.S. Department of Justice examined using fentanyl in lethal injections as it prepared last year to resume executing condemned prisoners, a then untested use of the powerful, addictive opioid that has helped fuel a national crisis of overdose deaths. The department revealed it had contemplated using the drug in a court filing last month, which has not been previously reported.

First peanut allergy therapy gets backing from U.S. regulators' expert advisers

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended approving the first therapy for peanut allergies, which affect over 1.6 million children in the United States, despite raising concerns about the risk of severe allergic reactions it poses to young patients. The body of independent advisers voted 7-2 in favor of effectiveness and 8-1 backing safety of the therapy Palforzia, developed by Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. The verdict of the panel is traditionally an influential factor in the agency's final decision.