A once-monthly injection of the opioid addiction drug buprenorphine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Millions of Americans are suffering from addiction to opioid drugs, and millions more are worried that the overdose epidemic could claim the lives of a friend or loved one,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Thursday in an agency news release. “We need immediate actions to help those suffering from an opioid use disorder transition to lives of sobriety,” he added. The new dosage provides patients with “access to a new and longer-acting option for the treatment of opioid addiction,” Gottlieb noted. The United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, with the number of overdose deaths quadrupling between 2000 and 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Johns Hopkins researchers recently reported that deaths from drug overdoses rose from about 52,000 in 2015 to more than 64,000 in 2016. Most of those deaths involved opioids, including prescription pain medications such as fentanyl and oxycodone (Oxycontin), as well as the illegal drug heroin. Hence, the need for more and better treatments. “Medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction uses drugs to stabilize brain chemistry, reduce or block the euphoric effects of opioids, relieve physiological cravings and normalize body functions,” Gottlieb explained. There are three FDA-approved drugs for treatment of opioid addiction:…  read on >

Think cigars are safer than cigarettes? Think again, new research warns. Nicotine levels in so-called “small” or “filtered” cigars were found to be equal to or greater than that found in cigarettes, according to the study by researchers at Penn State’s College of Medicine. “There seems to be a perception in the public that cigars are not as harmful as cigarettes,” study author Reema Goel said in a university news release. “But our study shows that nicotine is pretty high in this class of cigars, and future regulation that affects cigarettes should also affect these cigars.” Goel is a research associate with the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science at Penn State. Small cigars are nearly identical to cigarettes in appearance, although they are wrapped in leafy tobacco rather than paper. The study involved eight common brands of small cigars. It used machine-puffing simulators to compare their nicotine delivery levels with that of two types of cigarettes. Using two different methods for measuring nicotine, the research team found that, with both, the average amount of nicotine delivery was notably higher among small cigars than with cigarettes. “These products are basically cigarettes,” co-author John Richie, a professor of public health sciences and pharmacology at Penn State, noted in the news release. “They’re as harmful to you as cigarettes, if not more so. “It’s very important for the…  read on >

You know about buying no- and low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat. But your pantry might also need a makeover to help you get the most nutrients from your foods and stick with a healthy diet plan. Start by replacing white flour with whole-wheat flour, according to the Simple Cooking With Heart Grocery Guide from the American Heart Association. The varieties “white whole wheat” and “whole wheat pastry flour” work well in baked goods. Switch from regular pasta to whole-wheat varieties, and buy brown and wild rice rather than white. Expand your whole-grain selections for side dishes with couscous, barley and kasha — they have great taste that doesn’t need butter. Clear out bottled sauces and dressings with added fat and sugar. Buy canned low-salt tomatoes and tomato paste to use as a base for soups and sauces. Flavor foods with different vinegars or a squeeze of citrus, like lemon or lime. Build a collection of nut- as well as plant-based oils, like hazelnut and walnut to go alongside olive and safflower oils. A few drops are all you need to add pizzazz to a dish. Get creative with spices and herbs. There are dozens to try, from thyme and rosemary to sage and dill. Grow your own on a windowsill or use dried varieties. Add Asian and Indian influences for zest and deeper…  read on >

Before heading out to shop this holiday season, steel yourself for an onslaught of tempting aromas that might lure you into a fast-food restaurant. Food-related cues, like the smell of burgers or eye-catching menu displays, stimulate brain activity. This tempts people to eat more, a new study finds. University of Michigan researchers conducted lab experiments with 112 college students. The investigators found that food cues made people feel hungrier and led to the consumption of 220 more calories compared with non-cue environments. “Food-related cues can make people want or crave food more, but don’t have as much of an impact on their liking, or the pleasure they get from eating the food,” said study lead author Michelle Joyner, a psychology graduate student. The results show that people need to be aware that food cues can increase how much they eat, the researchers said. “It is hard to avoid food cues in our current environment, but people can try some strategies to minimize their exposure by not going into restaurants and using technology to skip food advertisements in TV shows,” Joyner said in a university news release. The findings were published in the November issue of the journal Clinical Psychological Science. More information The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to make healthy choices at fast-food restaurants.

(HealthDay News) — Not all snacks are bad for you, so it’s a good idea to avoid foods that are loaded with sugar and have virtually no nutritional value. The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers these healthier snack suggestions: Have an ounce of cheese with some whole-grain crackers, a container of low-fat yogurt or some low-fat popcorn. Gather a bowl of fruit for the kitchen or your living room coffee table. Keep a container of raw vegetables in the fridge. If you want some chips or nuts, don’t eat from the bag. This will avoid portion control issues.

Weight loss from dieting can slow the progression of knee arthritis in overweight people, according to a new study. But losing pounds from exercise alone will not help preserve those aging knees, the researchers found. Obesity is a major risk factor for painful knee osteoarthritis — degeneration of cartilage caused by wear and tear. Weight loss can slow the disease, but it wasn’t clear until now if the method of weight loss made a difference. Apparently, it does. “These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said lead author Dr. Alexandra Gersing. Gersing made her comments in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She’s with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of radiology and biomedical imaging. The study included 760 overweight or obese adults who had mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. The participants were divided into a “control group” of patients who lost no weight, and a group who lost weight through either a combination of diet and exercise, diet alone, or exercise alone. After eight years, cartilage degeneration was much lower in the weight-loss group than in the control group. However, that was…  read on >