A vaccine against fentanyl might be near; Plus, how to avoid Thanksgiving allergic reactions, and more health news

A vaccine against deadly fentanyl might be near

Researchers report they have created a vaccine to fight fentanyl addiction, in a potential breakthrough in the opioid epidemic.

The shot would block the ability of fentanyl to enter the brain and cause the “high” that users crave. It could be used to prevent relapses in people trying to quit opioids, once it gets through clinical trials, the scientists said.

“We believe these findings could have a significant impact on a very serious problem plaguing society for years — opioid misuse,” said study author Colin Haile, a research associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics.

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Study: Children keep busy moms from exercise

Something — or rather, someone — may be standing between moms and a regular exercise routine: their children.

New research from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton in the United Kingdom suggests that fewer than half of mothers met recommended activity levels, a number that was even lower when the children were younger or there was more than one.

“It is perhaps not unexpected that mothers who have young children or several children engage in less intense physical activity, but this is the first study that has quantified the significance of this reduction,” said study author Keith Godfrey. He is a professor of epidemiology and human development at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre at Southampton.

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Suicide rates declining for white Americans, but not minorities

In a finding that illustrates just how deeply racial disparities permeate the U.S. health care system, a new government report finds that suicide rates dipped slightly among white Americans while they rose for Black and Hispanic Americans.

“Although the recent decline in suicide rates for non-Hispanic white persons is encouraging, the continued increase for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic persons is concerning,” said study author Sally Curtin, a researcher for the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

“Suicide has declined recently for white persons, in total, and for those involving the three leading methods — firearms and suffocation, including hangings, and poisoning,” she added. “Rates continued to increase for Black and Hispanic persons for those involving firearms and suffocation. These differing trends deserve our attention.”

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Is weed tougher on your lungs than cigarettes?

While marijuana legalization in some U.S. states and Canada may send a message that weed is harmless, that’s not necessarily so, according to a new study that found lung damage was more common in marijuana smokers than tobacco users.

Research into marijuana’s impact on the lungs is just getting started, because weed wasn’t legal in many places until recently, but early indications are that it could do some serious damage.

“The main message is that it may not be as safe as people think it is, and we need more information,” said study co-author Dr. Giselle Revah, a cardiothoracic radiologist and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada. “This is sort of just the opening. I want people to be aware that it may cause problems.”

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How to avoid food allergies at Thanksgiving dinner

When loved ones come together for your Thanksgiving feast, keep in mind your those who have food allergies.

Practice safety in menu planning, food preparation and even serving, urged Courtney Cary, a senior dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Be aware of the eight most common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

“If someone who is attending the holiday meal has an allergy to any food, it is important to fully disclose the ingredients of what you prepared so they can avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction,” she said in a college news release.

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The best time of day to exercise if you’re a woman over 40

Regular exercise has long been hailed as a great way to preserve heart health, but could a morning workout deliver more benefits than an evening visit to the gym?

New research suggests that for women in their 40s and up, the answer appears to be yes.

“First of all, I would like to stress that being physically active or doing some sort of exercise is beneficial at any time of day,” noted study author Gali Albalak, a doctoral candidate in the department of internal medicine at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

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Study: Many Americans are an injury away from bankruptcy

One in 5 privately insured American adults hospitalized for a traumatic injury end up with medical bills they can’t pay, a new study finds.

Among more than 3,100 working-aged insured adults who suffered a traumatic injury, the risk of incurring co-pays and deductibles they couldn’t afford was 23% higher than among similar adults without traumatic injuries. These patients were also more likely to be hounded by collection agencies, the study showed.

“The amount of medical debt in America is $88 billion, and this is on top of what patients are already paying, so this is what they can’t pay,” said lead researcher Dr. John Scott. He is an assistant professor of surgery and a member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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